Jose Pedro Guerra
Managing Director
Rockbuilding

24 March 2022

Rockbuilding was established in 1999, in Portugal, as a project management company that offers integrated solutions to real estate developers.

Rockbuilding has a fairly long tradition on the Portuguese market, can you give us a bird's eye view on your activity here?

Integrated project management services have been our core business for more than 20 years, helping foreign developers throughout the processes of acquisition, due diligence, urban planning, design and construction.

Our expertise in the pre-construction phase acts as an important stage in the final success of the projects that we undertake. We can cover all areas of the development process thanks to a multidisciplinary team made of architects, economists, civil engineers, and managers. Having been a lawyer for many years, I use my expertise to help Rockbuilding relay valuable information on how suitable a clients' acquisition is, in order to minimize the risks of their investments.

Aside for sustainable features, for which we notice a strong trend in Portugal, are there other innovative aspects that the local industry has started to embrace?

 

BIM modelling is the star of the show nowadays and over the past two years we've seen great progress while using it. Currently, we are managing a relevant mixed-use project (office, retail and residential) in the central business district of Lisbon that employ this system.

 

From design to construction, the process has been greatly accelerated thanks to the use of this technology. It is extremely useful to balance deadlines, budgets and the overall quality of a project, helping everyone from the design team to the contractor and the project manager.

You assist developers from A to Z, throughout the entire development process - what phases are most challenging in Portugal?

The complexity of the licensing procedure is a painful theme, especially in Lisbon. The highly bureaucratic process that makes the permitting timeline surpass the construction period is simply not a feasible context for foreign investment. Nowadays, it's difficult to plan a consistent timeline, moreover since the construction cost has been skyrocketing in the last few months, partly due to the Covid pandemic. As project managers, we always try to balance these two factors between the contractor and the developer, striving to maintain the quality of the project while finding the best win-win solution.

Speaking of foreign investors, how relevant are they for your business?

If Portuguese developers can do their research and project management in-house, foreign investors don't have the same local insight, so they are hiring us to do all the processes for them.

There are a lot of well-established companies that promote construction and site supervision services, but we are amongst the few players that offer holistic advisory services to foreign developers. These companies are more connected to the work on site and don't usually have the background to advise clients on a first assessment - which is vital because business plans that work out in other countries, usually need a local input when adapting them to the Portuguese market.

Where do you see the most opportunity coming from on the Portuguese real estate market in 2022?

We've seen that there is a dire lack of product in the residential sector for middle class buyers, while a revolutionary spirit is changing the structure of the office segment. On the background of the pandemic, companies are now rethinking their office spaces, taking care of the wellbeing of their employees through lounge areas, relaxation corners and open-air facilities. We are now managing one of the biggest office projects in Lisbon, the new headquarters of the Fidelidade group (the most important Portuguese insurance company) and with the help of an international team of architects, we advised them since the very beginning to implement all these new and necessary elements.

What are your main objectives for the coming two to three years?

We are focused on having a sustainable growth and continuing our work on big developments, these being our favorite playground since it allows us to offer all the integrated services that we have in our portfolio. By 2026, the plan is to create alternative service lines within our company and in this sense, we are studying a partnership with GREENLAB, a specialized sustainability advisory company, to offer a new integrated service of project management for sustainable projects. Adapting our services to innovative construction technologies (which in Portugal are a bit behind the rest of Europe) is also a task we need to tick on our to-do list. 

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