As first time home-owners and first time builders the most important thing for us was building with someone we could trust and who we knew would support us along the way. Chris gave us this reassurance and he was true to his word – he helped us at every step of the journey and we are so grateful for his guidance.
Tell us a bit about your new home.
This was our third new-home build in the past 25 years. We had been living in an older house in Winthrop and were contemplating renovating it, however the calculations did not stack up in terms of cost vs return, so we started looking for other properties, including vacant land.
We were lucky enough to find this block of land with an older house already on it – which we lived in for a short while to see what the area was like and then decided we would like to build a new house on it.
Having built a couple of houses before, we weren’t too daunted by the experience; although we knew that it is not all plain sailing and there are a lot of choices to make.
We have now been in the house for almost a full year and, whilst there is still some work left to do, we are both really happy we made this decision.
What was the most important thing that you wanted to achieve with your new home?
One of the key driving factors for this house was that it was going to be our ‘forever home’, so we wanted to push the budget a bit and try and achieve the best design and finish that we could. Given that a major drawcard for this block of land was the view across to the bush reserve, we decided that an upside-down layout would make the most of the views and lifestyle; with a large balcony to the front of the house maximising the view with a whole wall of sliding glass doors between the living area and the balcony for entertaining.
One of the other key design elements was the granny flat on the ground floor. Other than the shared laundry, the granny flat is pretty much independent from the main part of the house, with it’s own access and rear courtyard. Other elements that we focussed on were the kitchen, which we wanted as high-spec and a large master ensuite.
One added bonus to the design of this house was a rear, two storey screen wall to protect the neighbours privacy, which we have converted into a climbing wall.
How did you hear about Summit?
Having already prepared a sketch design, we were keen to start talking to some builders. We knew that our budget was relatively modest, so we were not going to approach boutique builders – however we also wanted a builder that had been around for a long time and was more likely to stay the course and not disappear in the middle of the contract.
Probably what really swayed us to go with Summit was a combination of things – they have been around for 40 years and had a good reputation; our first encounter with Michael Klaver went really well and we were impressed by his experience and no-nonsense approach and also the Style Studio really promoted what Summit were capable of in terms of quality and finish.
What were the highlights of your building process?
Highlights of the process were finalising the design, seeing the first stages of construction happening and then finally seeing the end result.
There were several ‘mini-highlights’ through the build process, which included seeing the kitchen unveiled, watching the progress with the tiling and viewing the interior after all of the plasterboard had been installed.
One of the memorable moments on site was meeting the tilers after they had finished the bathrooms and ensuite and their insistence on showing us around to see their workmanship – they were deservedly proud of what they had done and we were extremely impressed by their attention to detail and level of skill.
What advice would you offer someone who is considering building a home?
Do your research – this is probably the biggest investment you are going to make in your life, so it is worthwhile spending a significant amount of time choosing a design and choosing a builder and finding the right land. Use a builder that has been around for a long time and has not over committed themselves to the point where they cannot service their clients and may risk going under as many have recently.
Invest time in the detailed planning – electrical layout, location of doors and windows, selection of fixtures, kitchen cabinets etc – don’t leave this to the last minute, as you may be spending a lot of time and money changing things within a couple of years of moving into your home.
If you can afford it, think about spending a bit extra on areas that may save you money in the longer term, for example the amount of insulation in your roof and walls or ensuring that there is provision for a rooftop solar system.
Don’t just think about the house in isolation – plan the landscaping and outdoor living areas at the early stage even if you intend to build them in the future. Consider the location of external taps and power points; which may become critical to your outdoor design.
On a final note – if you are building a long term home, think about your life/family situation 10 or 15 years from now, not just what your immediate situation is. So try and make the design flexible for the longer term. Kids will eventually leave home and/or you may have elderly parents staying with you.