Find all the tips, advice and new home inspiration with our Home Blog
Melburnians Liam and Adam knew they wanted to build their own home one day, and with a preference for wide open spaces and being close to nature, plus a Victorian First Home Owner’s Grant that was doubled for regional areas, the time was right to start the search for the perfect block of land, and the perfect builder to help them bring their dream country home to life in Tooborac, VIC. They moved into their new Hotondo Home about three weeks ago, and can’t speak highly enough of their experience with the entire team at Hotondo Homes Wallan.
“We’d been looking in the region and had a list builders to look at, but it was actually mum who actually suggested Hotondo Homes,” Adam told us. “She’s retired and she’s built four homes before so we had her researching builders for us all the way from South Australia!” The guys were renting in north-west Melbourne but hadn’t considered Hotondo Homes yet. “We didn’t even visit any of the Hotondo display homes” Adam said. “We looked them up online and read their amazing reviews, and just gave the Wallan team a call. We spoke initially to Melissa, who really sold it for us straight away to be honest!” Speaking to Melissa, who was friendly, responded quickly and “just had a really good vibe and good energy” convinced them Hotondo Homes was the perfect fit to build their dream home. “Other builders actually weren’t as forthcoming and took a while to get back to us, but Hotondo Homes were great from the get go,” they said.
Originally Liam and Adam were thinking of designing their own home, but once the team at Wallan took the guys through the range of designs available, they fell in love with the Cascade 121. “Having a design that had almost everything we wanted really saved a lot of hassle,” Liam said. “We wanted a home with the open-plan kitchen and living at the rear of the home, three bedrooms, one bathroom a separate laundry and a walk-in-robe in the master bedroom,” Adam told us. “Once we learned we could modify the design, we knew the Cascade was perfect for us. The guys were able to modify the master suite design and eliminate the ensuite, which allowed them to turn it into a large walk-in-pantry in the kitchen. They also didn’t want a bath, and moved the separate toilet into the bathroom itself, which gave them a larger walk-in-robe in their bedroom. They added spectacular raked ceilings in the open-plan kitchen and living space, and because they’re on a twelve acre block, they had the luxury of modifying the design to make all the rooms bigger than the original design allowed for, giving them an extra metre around the entire home. “We also wanted to simplify the façade, which the Wallan team were really on board with. We didn’t want a garage at all, and we removed all the bells and whistles so the exterior didn’t look too fussy – the home really looks like it was popped down on the land,” the guys told us. ”
“The team were so accommodating,” Adam said. “We used a lot of Hotondo’s preferred suppliers, but we also wanted to source some things locally and they were fine with that.” Liam added “They became more like friends more than just the people building our home, and they were really keen to hear our ideas.” After speaking to Melissa on the phone, they met Keegan at the office to start planning their country home. “It was great to meet him in person. He had so many extra suggestions for things we thought we might like,” Liam told us. “Mallory helped us with our colour selections, and Kalen was our site manager during the build. There was constant communication the whole time, they kept us abrest of everything happening on-site, which was important because we were in Melbourne during the build.” Adam agreed: “We never had to worry about anything, all the small details were taken care of.”
“We didn’t really have any issues during the build,” Adam told us. “Originally we actually had an entirely different block of land and planning became a problem. We were told we wouldn’t be able to build on it, so we found this block almost overnight.” After a site visit with the environmental planners, a quick phone call to Keegan in the Wallan office confirmed the block would be okay to build on. “He actually told us he thought this block was much better and they loved it too,” Liam said. The land already had a planning permit, but there were a few council delays due to timing and slow response times. “But the Hotondo team were so patient with us,” Adam told us. “They always checked in with us and told us they were ready to go as soon as we got approval from the council. Within a week or so of us getting the go ahead they were able to start the build!” The guys were able to visit the site on weekends when they worked on the land which allowed them to really see the progress of their home.
Settling in to their new home has been easy, and even Finny, Liam and Adam’s gorgeous Papillion has made himself at home. “We love entertaining, so we wanted a house that was a retreat but also ready to accommodate friends and family from the city. The living space at the rear of the home lets in so much sunlight that we don’t need lights on during the day,” Liam said. “Finny can often be found dozing in the sun out there, and with the raked ceilings it’s just a fantastic space.” The guys have big plans for the outdoor space, with lots of landscaping on the horizon, which will utilise Adam’s skills well given he’s a florist by trade and a budding horticulturist. “We’re doing our land management plan now, as well as our bushfire management plan, which Hotondo also helped us with,” Adam said. They also plan to bring back the chickens and a turkey they have, and maybe add some more animals to their brood in the future. With twelve acres of land there’s certainly plenty of space! “We also love seeing all the wildlife in their natural environment,” Liam told us. “There are lots of kangaroos and wallabies around, and we’ve even had the occasional emu visit us while we’re outside working.” Most evenings the guys can be found enjoying a nice glass of wine in front of the fireplace, and with so many wineries in close proximity they’re really spoiled for choice! Country life definitely agrees with them as they settle in and enjoy their country abode.
If you’re looking to build your dream home just like Liam and Adam have, you can search for a builder local to you at the Hotondo Homes website today. All photos in this post have been supplied by Liam and Adam, and if you’d like to see more of their country life, you can follow them on Instagram at @life.on.the.lot.
After living in an apartment for years, Rick and Ryan’s search for a builder began when the block of land they had purchased meant they couldn’t go with larger project builders. After engaging three different builders and telling them what they wanted in a home without success, the guys ended up finding Adam Toth from Hotondo Homes Rochedale in Queensland, and they couldn’t have been happier!
“We ended up going with Adam for a few different reasons. Mainly with the builder who had the passion to build it more so than the others. We could tell he wanted to build it for himself as well as for us, he was really passionate about it. We’d never built before, and everyone says it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, so we really wanted to make sure we had a good connection with our builder, because you don’t want to go through it with someone you can’t comfortably talk with or who feels like it’s going to make the process even tougher,” Ryan told us.
Originally Rick and Ryan didn’t realise it was so achievable or affordable to build their own home, but after buying the block of land suitable for a split level home, they quickly found out that a lot of builders wouldn’t touch it. The guys knew exactly what they wanted, and after chatting to Adam and working with the draftsperson, they made a couple of little changes and settled on a design. Ryan explained that the main living area is upstairs, which is at street level, so that they can spend most of their time up there and capitalise on the amazing views.
Their master suite is on this level as well, and they wanted the laundry up there also. “This means most of what we don’t use every day which are the three spare bedrooms, family bathroom and another sitting area are downstairs and makes it sort of like apartment living upstairs but on a larger scale than where we came from. Downstairs is sort of like our guest quarters. One of those three bedrooms downstairs is also what I use for my office which is good – it’s disconnected from the main living space, so it feels like I can go down and work there and step away from it. I might spend about 50% of my time working from home in my sales role,“ Ryan said.
“Working with Adam was really, really good. It ended up feeling like a friendship so you could talk honestly, it felt like he was always giving us his honest opinion instead of just steering us a particular way which some builders would do to benefit them or cut a corner and paint it as a better picture to you. He’s got a lot of experience behind him with the other things he’s built and we got the chance to see some photos of some of the other things he’s built and those photos spoke for themselves,” Ryan told us. “We’re so appreciative that Adam was happy to have us work so closely with him on it.”
Ryan also mentioned how grateful they were to work with a builder who was happy for them to source things from other suppliers to suit the look and feel they were hoping to achieve. Working so closely with Adam meant they were able to visit the site regularly to inspect the progress. “Adam was happy for us to be on site quite regularly, at times it was once a week, so we constantly felt like we were involved, knew what was happening, and knew what was about to happen so there were no surprises for us,” Ryan said.
Ryan explains “sustainable features were a focus for us, but it was also something that threw a couple of challenges at us. The block of land is adjacent to a nature corridor so we wanted a lot of large windows to take in those views, but then obviously the more glass you use the less energy efficient the home’s going to be so it was just about making that comfortable balance between using those large glass windows but then finding the right insulation, which was tough.” Ryan also said they didn’t experience any issues with the council, which made the building process pretty easy, and being able to be on site regularly meant there were no surprises for Rick and Ryan because they knew what was happening at any given time.
“The bar area was a bit of a dream. We entertain a lot and if you can see in the glass cabinet there a collection of rum I’ve been collecting. I used to work at Bundaberg Rum, and sort of started a collection then and it’s constantly grown, but I’ve never had somewhere to actually display it. It’s usually boxed up, so it’s been handy!” Ryan said. The guys got the keys to their home in October, 2019. “We got to celebrate Christmas in our new home. Most people in the street had Christmas at their place because we’re in a new development so no one has been here longer than about a year, making it very festive!”
Congratulations Rick and Ryan! We’re so happy you’ve had such an amazing building experience with Adam and the team at Hotondo Homes Rochedale, and know you’ll spend a lifetime creating happy memories in your absolutely stunning new home! If you’re ready to start your own building journey, head over to the Hotondo Homes website and search for a builder in your local area today.
Lesa, Darren, their two children and their cats love living in their Hotondo Home, built by our team in Batemans Bay. This is the second Hotondo home they’ve built, and we chatted to Lesa about their experience, which was particularly unique this time because she actually works at Hotondo Homes Batemans Bay!
Lesa and Darren chose the Northcote design because the frontage for their block of land was only 15 metres wide and 30 metres long, so it suited the block and what they wanted to achieve. “We really loved the open-plan kitchen layout, great walk-in-pantry, and the master suite at the front of the house,” Lesa said. They were looking for a four bedroom home with open-plan living and an outdoor area for entertaining, and the Northcote ticked all these boxes. “We modified it for sun orientation, which is really important for me as I love a house that is full of natural light,” Lesa added, “and we also made the garage a bit bigger so it had extra storage space.”
Lesa’s favourite spot in their home is the kitchen. She says “I’m in love with the colours I chose and get lots of positive comments when people visit. We did use James Hardie Axon Cladding in the entry hallway and behind the bed headwall in the master bedroom, it gives it a coastal feel and something just a bit different!”
On being both a Hotondo Homes employee and a client, Lesa says “This was our second build with Hotondo Homes. Our first home was built when I didn’t work there, but the process is the same whether you are a client or part of the team. We pride ourselves on our communication throughout the build with all our clients. We have a process in place and when it’s followed it’s a smooth process and a great outcome for both the builder and the client.”
While Lesa and Darren didn’t experience any unexpected issues during their build, she says “things can pop up that may not be expected, it’s how you deal with these things and get through them that makes a difference. As we have already built a few times prior to this we seem to know what to expect; having open and honest communication when things pop up goes a long way.”
This experience of being a client of Hotondo Homes twice now has also benefitted Lesa at work as well. “I suppose I know what’s coming and what’s to be expected. Any advice that I can give to future clients that may help them with colour choices or products or the design and modifying the design to suit their block, budget or needs is something that we have had to do ourselves, and being able to offer help in that regard is easy when you’ve been through it yourself.”
We loved chatting to Lesa and hearing what a positive experience her family has had with Hotondo Homes as they built their gorgeous sun-soaked family home! We’ve been thrilled to share some of our clients’ building journeys with you this year, so take a look at some of our other client spotlights and hear what all our happy clients have to say! If you’re looking for a local builder for your dream home, head over to the Hotondo Homes website today and search for a builder local to you.
Mel and Chris received the keys to their new Hotondo home, located in Nowra, NSW, in December, 2018. An open, light filled home, it’s perfectly designed for everyday family life and has a warm, welcoming feel as soon as you step through the front door. We spoke to Mel about her experience building with Adam Sturt and the Hotondo Southcoast team, and we also received some insight from Hotondo Southcoast about the build.
Because of the location of Mel and Chris’ land, which is in a flood zone, they thought most builders wouldn’t build for them due to the challenges of the land’s location. After looking at a display home on the South Coast Mel and her husband Chris had actually signed on to build with someone other than Hotondo Homes and were waiting for the tendering process to be finalised. When they finally sat down with the builder to pay their deposit, they were told the price had gone up by a whopping $30k. The builder couldn’t offer any explanation for this, and were quite uncooperative when Mel and Chris asked for an itemised pricing list to try and identify where the huge price increase had come from. They decided to look elsewhere and rang a slew of other builders in the area, but were quoted even higher prices which they found odd since they wanted to build a modest three bedroom home.
Mel rang Hotondo Homes Southcoast and after explaining her situation to the team in the office she was put through to speak to builder Adam Sturt straight away. Mel says, “Adam was very straightforward from our first conversation and said we should come in for a meeting to chat about what we wanted.”
Adam was able to sit down with Mel and Chris and give them an estimate based on their dream home vision, then suggested they meet with their draftsman to finalise the design so he could price it properly for them. Hotondo Southcoast’s quote matched Mel and Chris’ budget and their decision was made. Adam tells us that they showed Mel and Chris a few designs that would suit their blook and the flood zone and they loved the Killalea, which was modified to comply with council requirements. “We looked at the Killalea design, and made a few modifications to suit our requirements,” Mel said. “I really wanted a skillion roof, and having a window over the staircase was really important to me because I don’t like dark passageways and stairs. Adam was able to suggest the perfect placement for the window so that lots of natural light came in. Actually, he was great at suggesting things like the best placements for all the windows!”
A few changes had to be made to meet council requirements because they are in the flood zone, so the ground floor of their home had to be non-inhabitable. “Our ground floor is made up of the garage, laundry, and a storage room that also functions as a play room for our daughter, Ava. The best part is that it’s not visible from the street, which is great!” Adam says “We modified the design to comply with flood zone requirements which included double brickwork downstairs, and used flood compatible materials. We also included a solar system in the build to make it a more energy efficient home.”
Mel tells us that due to their land being classified as a 1 in 100 year flood zone, the floor must be a minimum of 1.6 metres off the ground, which was no problem for Adam and his team to work into the design specifications. “The only issues we had were with the council to be honest,” Mel says. “ Adam and Kayla dealt with all of it and kept us in the loop the whole time, so the communication between us and them was fantastic, even if the news was not so good. They would let us know and also tell us how long it would take to fix as they liaised with the local council. We didn’t have to deal with any of it, which was great.” The local council insisted the home be built with a concrete sub-floor which would have added $25,000 on to the cost. Mel told us that Adam was able to go back to the council with a record of homes in the vicinity that were built with timber joists, and they backed down and allowed Mel and Chris to built their home the same way.
Mel says that the entire team was wonderful to deal with. “We wanted to do our own flooring, and Adam was happy for us to go in and do that before the kitchen was installed. We also got to do walk throughs anytime we wanted, and our foreman was wonderful. We couldn’t fault them!” Mel and her family were actually renting a home on the same street they were building their home on, and she said it was exciting to walk past the home and see the progress every day. “A lot of the neighbours also commented on how quickly their home was built compared to other ones in the area, and how tidy the job site was throughout the build.”
Adam tells us that the clients wanted a home they could entertain in, which consisted of an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area which would also flow through to a large external deck area. The clients’ colours were selected with the in-house colour consultant, and the home features a modern bathroom with matte black fittings to give it a unique feeling.
Mel, Chris and little Ava got the keys to their new home one week before Christmas in 2018, which was the best Christmas present they could have received! “Everyone said ‘oh, you’ve got your perfect new home, so Christmas is at yours this year!’” When we asked them how they’re going in their Hotondo Home eight months on, Mel said ““Thank god we had a bad experience with the other builder because I would hate to be living in that home now. I love our house! I used to go and stand out the front and stare at our house. People must have thought I was a total weirdo!” Adam and the Hotondo Southcoast team said “Mel and Chris were amazing to work with! They were just so willing to help and so understanding, and they worked with us the whole way with the build.”
Congratulations Mel, Chris and Ava! We know you’ll enjoy making memories in your beautiful home for many years to come and we’re so pleased to hear how much you love living in it as much as Hotondo Southcoast loved building it for you! If you’re looking for a builder to help you bring your dream home vision to life, head over to the Hotondo Homes website today to search for a builder in your area.
Carmen and her husband, Jared recently received the keys to their brand new Hotondo Home on the Central Coast in NSW and they couldn’t be happier with their stunning industrial/Scandi style home. We chatted to first time home builder Carmen about her experience building with Jon and Lyndsey Clarke on the Central Coast, and we also received some insight from Jon about how the build went.
Carmen and Jared have a close friend who built with Hotondo Homes Central Coast last year, and couldn’t speak highly enough of the team! “She told us how easy the build process was, and how accommodating they were, which we liked,” said Carmen. She also said they really love that Central Coast use local trades throughout their builds, supporting the local economy. “They were also really accommodating when there were a couple of changes during the build. They listened to what we wanted and made the necessary adjustments, which was great!”
Carmen and Jared had a specific plan in mind, and when they sat down with Jon, he was able to walk them through the Hotondo design that best suited their requirements. “They ended up with a modified Lorne, with inspiration taken from the Hotham floor plan, and the Bellarine façade with a skillion roof was used,” Jon said. Carmen told us that although they had a particular floor plan they liked, sitting down with Jon to look at Hotondo floor plans helped guide the direction of their build. Carmen and Jared’s requirements included open-plan living downstairs on one level, stacker doors leading to an alfresco to create indoor/outdoor living, and all the bedrooms upstairs, creating one sleeping quarter for their young family.
When it came to choosing their colours, Carmen had a very specific vision for an industrial feel with elements of Scandi style, and visualising the colour palette with the team was really beneficial. “They really know their stuff, and were so knowledgeable across all the areas of the home. It’s another reason we loved building with Hotondo – you don’t need to lock in your colour selections until a bit later in the process, which allowed us to change a few things,” Carmen said. “A lot of other builders we knew of required all of that stuff to be locked in straight away, which doesn’t allow clients to change their mind later on.”
Jon told us there was a lot of rain at the beginning of the build, so much so that they struggled to find a dry day to pour the slab. Carmen and her family were overseas at this time, during which there was about six weeks of steady rain. Upon their return home, however, Carmen told us the team had accomplished so much, more so than they had expected given the wet weather they’d been hearing about! Carmen’s interior design vision meant there were a few requests that weren’t standard as part of the build, so Jon had their carpenter build some custom vanities to create a cohesive theme throughout the home.
“The guys were so easy to work with,” Carmen said. “They accommodated our vision as much as possible, and when something wasn’t going to work, they offered solutions that still suited our floor plan.” Jon told us that Carmen and Jared wanted Blackbutt as a feature throughout the home, and they were able to include it in the floors, custom vanity tops, and floating shelves in the butler’s pantry. Carmen originally wanted a concrete staircase, but ultimately it wasn’t cost effective, so she compromised with a pool out the back instead, saying “it’s somewhere we can create lots of memories, so I’m okay with it!” Jon was able to offer up the solution of a beautiful custom staircase balustrade feature screen, which makes a stunning statement in the home.
Congratulations Carmen and Jared! We know you’ll just love living in your new Hotondo Home as much as the Central Coast team loved building it, and we’re sure you’ll love creating memories that are better than you ever imagined! You can view more images from Carmen and Jared’s building journey over on their Instagram page. If you’re looking for a local builder for your new home, head to the Hotondo Homes website and search for a builder in your area today.