What it takes to build an award-winning home
A couple of years ago my father and his wife sold their stunning property in a little town in Tasmania, and moved into a hay shed on 40ha of land they’d bought just down the road. Their plan was to build their dream home and maybe a little guest house. Collectively, the family thought they were nuts with a capital N, given that they were in their late 60s and already lived in a house that had been included in Vogue Living’s Top 20 country houses not too long ago.
They ignored us completely and went about building a road, installing power, sewage – you know – the basics, and finally their house. Well, it’s just won yet another award – this time for the Master Builders Association National House of the Year and that’s on top of the state level Housing Institute of Australia awards it’s already won. So, what was the process they went through and what does muffins have to do with it? I spoke with Judi, my stepmother, to find out more.
What made you decide to sell Fair Light and start again at Beaupre Point?
After years of extensive restoration, John and I thought we would live at Fair Light in Cygnet for the rest of our lives but we had always admired the beautiful peninsular Beaupre Point as we sailed past. With only slight hesitation we jumped at the once in a lifetime opportunity to own this beautiful piece of land when it unexpectedly came on the market.
Your son, Andy, designed the house – did you take ideas to him, or did he come up with the concept?
Initially, my brother Bruce Willoughby, an architect based in Sydney and Hobart, came up with the idea of the footprint for our home. This included courtyard areas for protection from the prevailing winds. John and I talked about our ideas for a house built of natural materials such as timber, stone and glass to blend in with the natural beauty surrounding Beaupre Point. We then gave the project to Andy who designed the entire house in great detail, including the interior and joinery.
Did he design the house to the budget you had set, or where there compromises that had to be made?
Andy designed the house to meet a tight budget and there was a little more tweaking after the quotes came in.
How did you find working with your builder? Did the project stick to the timeline and budget?
Initially, we put the designed house out to tender to 6 builders [JD shudders – his thoughts on tendering to come at a later date!]. Interestingly, the only builders to spend considerable time contacting Andy, the designer, were In2 Constructions. We chose these builders based on their obvious good communication skills as well as recommendation from local friends.
These builders communicated well with Andy and us throughout the entire building process. They listened to any concern expressed by us, as the owners, and were attentive to any concerns expressed by Andy. We held regular meetings together – including relevant tradesmen – throughout the build. Considering we were both used to running projects in our professions as teacher and engineer and a son as designer this was potentially an explosive situation! However, these meetings were productive and ensured a high level of communication was maintained.
Is there anything you’d change about the house?
We are absolutely delighted with our Beaupre Point House. With our set budget, the house could not have worked out more perfectly.
What’s your favourite feature?
We love the light and space, the feeling of being connected to the outdoors in all the weather that Tasmania offers, the way the house flows from living pavilion to bed pavilion but perhaps best of all ifs the secret door in the library, leading to an attic ‘dorm room’ for the grandchildren.
We are lucky enough to enjoy holidays in Tasmania at this gorgeous house – you can get a little taste of it as well by staying at their luxurious guest house, Coast House, which has also won building awards.
And those muffins? Well, Judi used to bake a batch in the little hay shed where they were living at the time each morning and take them down the builders at smoko. They loved it.
Have you built a new home from scratch? What were the highs and lows? Muffins or cupcakes?