Ambition rewarded

The courage and determination of owner builders who tackle challenging projects single-handed is admirable.

Brendon of Lilydale, Victoria, built Paal Kit Homes’ large Castlereagh design on a deeply sloping block and made a magnificent job of it. As well, he saved at least a quarter of a million dollars by tackling as much as possible of the work himself.

Brendon and his partner Denise’s home overlooks a bush-filled valley on Melbourne’s eastern fringe and has attracted many favourable comments.

The commanding outlook was achieved by positioning the house and deck on 88 steel piers that are nearly three metres high at the deck edge.

Fascinated by the engineering side of the project and never daunted by challenges, Brendon taught himself new skills, including pier placement and support for the elevated timber flooring.

He combined his long-service and annual leave to make a strong start on the house, later employing a professional plasterer to save time. He used the mandatory tradespeople for roofing, plumbing and electricals.

While admitting that his 420 square metre home, including a double-garage and deck, was ambitious, he said, “It was also straightforward in a lot of respects. I’m very happy with the result. It’s certainly an achievement.”

A building surveyor, who inspected the construction at various stages, said, “I’ve been in the game for 40 years, and I haven’t seen it done as well as you have.”

Brendon confesses: “Our neighbours initially felt sorry for me, out there every day in rain or hail or sunshine, but they now take their hats off.”

He said support from Paal Kit Homes in Melbourne was fantastic, with Robyn Cummins and Charlie Scerri visiting the site a number of times.

Even though Brendon and Denise customised many of their house fittings, they kept a tight control on building costs, using spreadsheets to do the calculations. This gave confidence to the bank that was financing them.

Contributing his own labour also made a huge difference. Laying and polishing the timber floor alone saved Brendon an estimated $10,000, contributing to a benefit of more than $250,000 on the entire project.

“Friends are amazed and impressed. Denise, my partner, loves the house and is very proud of what I’ve achieved.”