Have you found your dream block or property and now face the question of finding the right builder with the right experience to build your new home? Today, Inverloch 3996 sits down with Trent and Caroline Allen from Hotondo Homes, who have been servicing the Inverloch and surrounding areas for over 16 years as part of the franchised domestic construction business and together with Trent’s father Don, building in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland Region for over 40 years.
1. Trent, you have been building homes throughout the Bass Coast and South Gippsland region for a very long time. How important is it to understand the elements when building in the region?
Trent: Having lived here all our life, we have an intimate knowledge of the building conditions and requirements for this area. There have been many changes to the building regulations in certain areas and you need to keep up to date.
If you don’t have land, we are able to assist you in finding a suitable block, bearing in mind that we are also able to check the available building envelope, any restrictions, covenants, permit requirements and applicable overlays pertaining to that land. In many cases we are finding clients are having difficulty in navigating their way through the various planning and/or building requirements and that’s where we can simplify the process. We handle all aspects of the planning applications and with our connections within the community, we know the process, offer the right advice as to what criteria needs to be met to achieve a successful outcome and who to talk to.
It takes a team of reliable, capable and talented people to build a home and being local means we have made those connections and relationships with the various professionals in their field - be it our carpenters, painters, plumbers, brick layers and the like. We work with the same team so they know what we expect in terms of our standard and finish. We also have pride in employing local people/trades and playing our part contributing to our community.
2. What changes have you noticed in the style of homes people are now seeking?
Caroline: An open plan, with common entertainments areas is still very popular but designated media rooms and rumpus rooms off the main living areas is also often requested. Semi-enclosed alfresco areas with fire places, hot/cold outdoor showers for when people return from the beach are popular, as well as clever storage/space saving ideas. Finding the right plan for their block of land or vice versa is also high on the agenda as the orientation of a home is important to people in terms of gaining a high energy rating and assisting the home to be as energy efficient as possible.
3. What options do you offer clients regarding the design and flexibility?
Caroline: We have over 90+ designs already available. These have been cleverly designed to suit a range of different markets. Many of the more popular designs are available in different sizes and they are all accessible to view on our website. We then work closely with each clients so that they can add their own touches and personalise their new home to suit their requirements and preferences. They really become involved in the process. Then during the colour selections process, we can individualise their home based on their selections and colour design.
4. If a client wants to work with you, what is the process?
Trent: You can start with arranging an appointment with us. We are open from 9-5 Monday to Friday, weekends and after hours by appointment. We are able to assist with finance, house and land packages, land availability and the selection of a home that suits your needs and budget. We can also discuss any inclusions or modifications you wish to make and then provide you with a new home proposal based on your requirements from this initial discussion.
Once you have obtained the necessary information from us and made a decision, you will pay an initial fee which allows us to conduct our site survey, soil test and establish what the BAL Rating (Bushfire assessment level) is. We can also conduct the external and internal colour and specifications selection, finalise your floor plan and elevations and present you with a fixed price quote. Once this has been reviewed, signed and finance (if required) has been approved, we can apply for the building permit and commence construction.
5. What other services do you offer?
Caroline: Our business is unique to many others as we offer a full in-house service. We advise on suitable blocks of land and work with that client so that have as much information as they require to make an informed decision as to whom they will build with.
If they already have land, we assist in making modifications to a preferred design to suit their preferences. If you have a sloping site we can work with you to ensure your preferred design will work with the block and advise on extra excavation or drainage costs if required.
We have a finance broker so clients can investigate their options at their request, whether that is to do with finding their budget and/or the best rate for them. We have a meticulous colour selection process, offering in-house interior design consulting from choosing the external materials and facades to the internal fixtures, fittings and colour scheme in our showroom.
Working closely with our real estate agents also allows us to offer a wide range of house and land packages for different locations and also keep up-to-date with latest land releases.
6. Can you tell us about your recent award wins this year?
Caroline: Yes it’s been an exciting year. The Bendigo Bank Business Awards was a great night and we came away winners in the Services – Trades and Construction category. This was based on customer and market focus, leadership, innovation, adaptability, corporate culture, accessibility, business planning, environment, use of new technology and evidence of demonstrated success. We continue to be a strong reliable company and all these elements play a part in it.
Our most recent win at the annual Hotondo Homes national conference was the 2014 Excellence in Customer Award. The criteria for this award was ‘exceptional results in customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shop results and customer testimonials’, over the past 12 months. Our clients feel up-to-date and involved in the entire build project. Most of our work comes from referrals from past customers and people within the building community and they are the most reliable form of reviews. I often tell people to knock on the doors of our past clients and those from other building companies and ask them what their building experience was like, was there problems encountered and how was it handled, and were they happy with the outcome? A job well done is better than well said. We also have a home being entered into the Master Builders Awards for early 2015 so stay tuned for that one.
7. Your reputation as a quality builder is well known, what do you attribute to this?
Trent: I would have to say being an honest and transparent company to deal with is number one. People just want some truthful advice. Our clients also want value for money as well, not just in the build itself but the service that’s delivered. We work one-on-one with our clients throughout the entire building process. We understand that building a new home can be one of the biggest financial and emotional investments our clients will ever make.
We are in the business of creating their biggest assets so there is a lot of trust exchanged. Building homes is an art form; a craft that’s perfected over time and being a perfectionist myself, I am committed to delivering a quality product. We offer the right advice and aim to please. We want to make the process easy for our clients. They get the home they want and we get pleasure of seeing a smile on their faces and a home they can be proud of. That’s the best part.