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Why I Built BuildLabs: A Note from Our Cofounder, Punit Chugh.

by
Tanya Klich
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Sustainable Construction

For me, building BuildLabs was about building trust back into the construction industry.

As 2024 marks a decade in business, and with June marking the peak season for construction in the East End, I can’t help but reflect on how far our team has come–and how there’s still much to do when it comes to making sustainable construction the new standard in the US.

It all goes back to our company’s founding story. In 2014, after a successful career working on large-scale infrastructure projects in Australia, ranging from $80 million to $1 billion, I decided to follow a calling to start my own venture in the United States. My experience in Australia spanned various aspects of the construction industry, from contract administration to the execution of work on job-sites. These projects showcased the vast possibilities within the built environment and provided me with invaluable experience.

During this time, I pursued an MBA at NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, focusing on the financial aspects of construction. Yes, I know we are in an age where higher education is increasingly overrated, but even as a serial entrepreneur, I firmly believe this enhanced my hands-on experience and broadened my perspective on how to apply these skills to the challenges I faced at those massive infrastructure sites.

So when I returned to the States, I cofounded my company with my life partner and business partner, Anjali Gupta, and we were laser-focused in continually reinvesting in its growth and mission. By 2015, we secured our first significant project in Sag Harbor, a 9,000 sq. ft. waterfront home. Transitioning from large infrastructure projects that involved corporate consulting groups, to smaller, high-stakes ventures relying on our own life-savings required me to adapt quickly, managing every aspect of the business.

Initially, we worked within traditional stick construction to establish credibility and further understand the industry’s inefficiencies. After three years of exploration, in 2017, we began to investigate off-site construction methodologies, drawing inspiration from advanced building techniques in Germany. This exploration led us to integrate these efficient and innovative methods into our projects in the US, and form the Hybrid Construction Methodology that defines what BuildLabs is today.

Beyond the off-site building processes, our approach deviated from the norm in many other ways; instead of being a traditional carpenter or framer, my background in design and business allowed us to think outside the box. We aimed to take full accountability for projects, managing cost, quality, and time with a holistic view. Our method involves carefully hand-picking engineers, architects, and interior designers to create a cohesive and efficient building process under one roof.

Within just a few years, our company outgrew its initial Southampton location and moved to Bridgehampton. Our rapid growth was fueled by leveraging existing contacts and quickly expanding our team. From an initial three employees, we grew to 22 by our second year, establishing a strong presence in the local industry.

Our company’s mission is to revolutionize the construction industry by addressing its fragmented nature and improving efficiency through innovative methodologies. We aim to be five years ahead of the market, continuously innovating and implementing cutting-edge building practices.

One of our earliest clients, introduced by Sotheby’s, was a tech professional who embraced our innovative approach. This Hamptons project became a cornerstone for our reputation, showcasing the benefits of our method and leading to numerous referrals. And since 2014, word-of-mouth was our sole vehicle for growth. We invested in our reputation first.

But now after a decade of business, we have carefully assessed and expanded our operations, focusing on high-value segments within the luxury market. Our commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices drives us to continuously improve and innovate. Looking ahead, my leadership at BuildLabs is focused on expanding into larger innovations, including addressing the needs of affordable housing issues in Long Island, and developing solutions like ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). We aim to provide high-quality, efficient, and sustainable built environments for a broader audience, ensuring our methods serve both luxury and mainstream markets. The latter will be made possible by our expansion to Nash County, North Caroline, where we will build a 20,000 square foot facility bringing our German innovations to US soil for the first time. It’s expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the area, and local talent is what drew BuildLabs to the region in the first place.

It has been quite a journey for my team and I. It’s our team and our clients who entrust their dream home in our hands who, altogether, have shaped our company’s vision. And we look forward to leading the industry in efficiency, accountability, and sustainability.

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Sustainable Construction