Local Builders

The Smartway Story… How it all began

We recall way back when we were considerably younger we both had an interest in property, in building, in construction. Howard’s Dad was a highly skilled, quality-driven joiner and cabinet maker, who had served his building apprenticeship during the tough war years. That flowed onto a desire to deliver quality work that made a difference. And in her youth Ann was known to have picked up the wallpapering brush and re-papered the lounge, to the surprise of her Dad. We both started young wanting to deliver a quality end result we were proud of.

We’re business people, running a successful building company, not just builders who happened to fall into building at a young age. We have chosen to be involved in this industry and want to make a difference. We have spent many, many years in multiple businesses focusing on providing client-driven solutions, and now we’re bringing that to the building industry.

For many years we ran a business buying residential property, renovating or modifying it, and then reselling it. We would often have three or four properties on the go at the same time. But the lack of simple common courtesy among the building profession and associated trades frustrated us. You probably know what we mean … tradespeople who didn’t return calls, didn’t answer emails, and who weren’t available. And when you finally got someone to agree to come see your work they didn’t turn up. Other people relayed more and more of the same “we don’t give a damn about client service” stories from building tradespeople.

It became obvious that the vast majority of the building industry simply didn’t understand common courtesy and didn’t care about the client, their time or what they had to say. The values of our parents had become “old-fashioned”. We decided that it had to change, that we would create a building company founded on “old-fashioned values” where our clients were treated the way they deserved to be. And that we would find and engage only truly great builders and tradespeople, people who respected our clients, their families and their property. Tradespeople who wanted to deliver quality, meet all the rules and regulations … and not cut corners.

The business was started in early 2011 and very quickly grew by word-of-mouth, by referrals, by repeat business from satisfied clients. Soon we were engaging more builders, fully-qualified, licensed builders with lots of knowledge and experience … who were tired of working for people with no values, and being forced to take shortcuts they weren’t happy with.  You know what … people still want to work with a building company that is based on “old-fashioned values”, which we guess really aren’t too old-fashioned any more. We work hard on delivering what we promise, on meeting budgets and timelines, on meeting our client’s expectations … on displaying integrity.

We want great clients to work with, people who want to be treated with respect, and appreciate that quality costs a little more. And at the end of the project we want our clients to say “WOW, that’s exactly what I wanted”, or maybe it’s even better than they expected … and then we hope they will tell everyone they meet about Smartway Builders and the “old-fashioned values” that created a modern, sustainable, absolutely brilliant result. Our aim is that we can continue to out-perform our competitors, that we have truly great clients to work with … and that we can replicate our success in the Wellington area and around the rest of New Zealand … and make Smartway Builders a national brand that people know they can truly depend on.

Over 150 Years Plus In The Building Industry:

The Woolston Generations…

Woolston generations back to the early 1700’s (and possibly earlier) were primarily coach builders by trade, masters in the art of providing quality end results. In the United Kingdom, it was not until towards the close of the sixteenth century that the wagon became used as a public conveyance, and only very rarely then. Fifty years later in the mid-1700’s, a string of stage-wagons had begun to travel regularly between London and Liverpool, each one starting from the Axe Inn, Aldermanbury, every Monday and Thursday, and occupying ten days on the road during summer – about twelve days in winter. About the same time, three men started every Friday morning from Liverpool, for Lad’s Lane, London, with a gang of horses for the conveyance of light goods and passengers, usually reaching Liverpool on the Monday evening following. Maybe, just maybe, one of our ancestors built one or more of those passenger coaches!

Joseph Woolston

Joseph was a coach builder and coach painter in London. We don’t know how many of the coaches in the UK were built by the Woolston family members, just that they were involved. Maybe they built one for the monarch of the time (George IV, William IV or maybe even Queen Victoria)? Coach-building was an art form with a very high quality finish being demanded, particularly by the upper class members … where being able to use the paintwork as a mirror was the expected norm.

(1836 - 1875)
George Woolston

George was a qualified carpenter and joiner, who came to NZ in July 1874 at age 38, and after 84 days at sea on the Winchester, landed in Napier with his wife and 9 children (yep 9 children!). For those of you into maritime history, the Winchester was a blackball frigate normally on the London to Calcutta run. Built in 1862 at Sunderland by G Marshall, she flew the Marshall flag, and was 198ft by 36ft wide, and weighed 1157 tons.  A 2nd carpenter on the same ship subsequently ended up marrying one of the Woolston daughters as well. Talk about “keeping building in the family”.

(Napier about 1890, a few years after the Woolston’s arrived in NZ)
(1871 – 1938)
Joseph Woolston

Joseph (the 2nd Joseph in the family), took up the carpentry trade as soon as he was able. In 1896 he moved to Wanganui and got married the same year. His wife’s father was also a carpenter. At that time of moving there, Wanganui only had a population of 5936, but presented many opportunities for a skilled craftsman and entrepreneur. In about 1903 he got more involved in buying property and building residential houses, and also transitioned into being a large contractor and completed significant projects including renovations of the high school, new baths, Cosmopolitan Club upgrades, and new town hall, fire station and orphanage.

Joseph was also one of the first people involved in the Master Builders Association and attended the annual conference in 1912, only 10 years after the association started.

(1898 – 1931)
Leslie Woolston

Leslie, whist primarily involved in the motor industry, was also involved in the design and construction of new roads and bridges around Wanganui.

Unfortunately though, his life ended tragically far too early, too early to see his son Ralph continue the family building industry tradition and develop into an excellent carpenter, joiner and cabinet-maker.

Take Advantage of The Wealth Of Knowledge in Our Free E-Book About Avoiding Expensive Mistakes When Building a New Home. Request Your Copy Now And You Could Save Yourself Thousands Of Dollars On Your New Home Build.

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Get in touch TODAY! Request your CONSULTATION with
Ann and Howard
of Smartway Builders. By getting in touch with us at the start of your build you reduce the risk of anything going WRONG. There is a lot to consider so why not put your feet up and relax, while the professionals at Smartway Builders  take over your project.


    (1923 – 1992)
    Ralph Woolston

    Ralph trained as a carpenter / cabinet maker and spent many years in the building industry in Wellington. He completed his apprenticeship with Fletcher Construction and spent the war years helping to build transportable units for the troops. A skilled craftsman with an eye for absolute detail he reluctantly put up with his 2nd son Howard’s constant tagging along behind him … asking “why” you did a certain thing a certain way. Ralph was involved with many new homes, extensions and renovations, including building his own home in the Tawa area in the late 1940’s early 1950’s.

    (1954 – current)
    Howard Woolston

    Owner of Smartway Builders. Having been involved in the building industry for many years he has an eye for the detail and the ability to translate client wants into practical application.

    The next generation as well (through Howard’s nephew Karl Woolston) is also involved in the residential building industry in Auckland. Karl’s a fully qualified and licensed builder, constructing new homes in Auckland.

    We have Licensed Building Practitioners with Over 150 Years Experience in New Builds & Renovations

    Smartway Builders Ltd can assist you with all aspects of the building process including project management and dealing with the council.


    Our Company Mission

    Ann & Howard Woolston - Directors
    Ann & Howard Woolston – Directors

    “Quality Residential Building Services

    That New Zealand Property Owners Can Always Depend On”

    Our goal is to give all New Zealand residential property owners access to quality, affordable advice, products and building services, provided by qualified, knowledgeable and experienced tradespeople and professionals who they can trust, depend on and be totally comfortable with; tradespeople and professionals who follow the rules and are committed to old fashioned values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, dependability, cleanliness, promptness and common courtesy, and who care about the results they produce and delivering what they promise.

    Our primary goal is to have a viable and beneficial presence in every major town and city in New Zealand by 31 December 2025 so that we can provide quality and affordable solutions to at least 75% of New Zealand property owners.

    We believe that being great simply isn’t good enough and we want to be the best in our field and to set the standards for others to follow, raising the bar every year through constant improvement and innovation.

    Don’t forget to REQUEST YOUR CONSULTATION TODAY with the Directors Ann & Howard Woolston

    Get in quick as there are only a few more spots LEFT!     CALL US TODAY

    Download our FREE E-Book!

    Take Advantage of The Wealth Of Knowledge in Our Free E-Book About Avoiding Expensive Renovation Mistakes. Request Your Copy Now And You Could Save Yourself Thousands Of Dollars On Your Renovation.

    Request Your FREE Copy Now!