When you decide to build a home there are many decisions to contemplate but the first one, and most important, is choosing the style of home you desire. What style of home you want to build will impact everything from your budget, to choice of builder, so where is the best place to find your inspiration and ideas for your new home? Display homes …
Rick and Susan Fischer, owners of G.J. Gardner Homes Coffs Coast, opened their new display home on September 5 at North Sapphire Beach and understand the importance of a display home visit in the build process. It not only gives people a sense of how a finished home will look and feel, but also allows them to picture themselves actually living and moving in the space, something you just can’t get from a brochure or floor plan alone.
We spoke with Rick and Susan Fischer about their passion for building, what inspired their latest display home venture, and gathered some tips to help new builders through the process.
Rick and Susan, what was the process you went through when deciding where to build your new display home and which design to build?
Although we have years of experience, we still went through a similar process to any new home builder. Firstly, it started by selecting where our clients want to live. For this display home, we wanted to build a resort style home close to the beach. We headed down to see Robyn Goddard at North Sapphire Beach Estate, where we were on the lookout for a block that faced south, so when the main living areas were opened up they would take advantage of the northerly aspect and cool breezes in summer. We also loved that the estate is only 10 minutes from the centre of town, has a beach café, a great kids’ playground, and it’s just a short stroll down to the beach – all the lifestyle aspects we desire here on the Coffs Coast.
Once we secured the land, we hit the road on a research trip, inspecting a large amount of display homes along the East Coast that had a similar lifestyle to the Coffs Coast. We then met with our G.J. Gardner Homes house plan designer, who guided us through the design selection. He pointed out any modifications we would need to make to bring our vision to reality and helped us secure a design that would get the maximum potential out of our block of land. In the end, we decided on the G.J. Gardner Homes Stillwater 300 design as the basis for the home, which we then modified to the Stillwater 303 to suit our selected block of land.
One of the main design features we loved was the emphasis on outdoor living and how easily you could throw open the massive sliding doors and create a beautiful flow from inside to outside. In summer, the central courtyard will create the perfect oasis by allowing cross breezes throughout the master suite, family room and lounge room. In winter, sunshine will filter in and provide warmth to the home. As with every G.J. Gardner Home design, there are several different sizes and facade options to choose from, depending on your needs and budget. On this occasion, we went for a larger design creating a spacious, four bedroom home, perfect for growing families.
What was the inspiration behind the design for your new display home?
We really wanted to bring a coastal resort feel to this display home, and we took inspiration from a number of different places. Luxury tropical destinations such as Bali and Thailand were a strong influence, along with the unique colours, textures and natural beauty of the Australian coastline. This is why the choice of natural materials such as stone and wood on the façade of our display home was very deliberate and important. The light grey exterior works well too, as it deflects the heat of the sun and also complements the cool blue tones of the beach nearby. The plantation shutters on the windows echo the style of “The Hamptons”, yet allow control of light and protection against the elements.
The central courtyard creates a private retreat similar to what you might see in a luxury Balinese resort. The master bedroom ensuite, with its freestanding bathtub surrounded by pebble stones, would look at home in any five star Thai day spa. A coastal, resort style home needs to be light and airy, with a beautiful sense of space that easily complements the natural environment, and we believe we have achieved this in our new display home at North Sapphire Beach Estate.
Does the resort feel flow through the interior layout also?
Inside the display home our aim was to create a space that was refined and elegant, yet with a casual, relaxed feel that is renowned with beach lifestyle. As you walk through the oversized glass and timber front door, you get an immediate sense of light and space, with the wide foyer inviting you in. With the flooring we used beautiful, natural, Italian floor tile from Amber, which are a little bit different, but we think they look fantastic and are very practical for beach living.
A large study nook leads the way to two children’s or guest bedrooms, providing a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the main living areas. This wing also contains the activity room, which would be perfect to use as a games room, guest retreat or sitting room. The main bathroom completes this space, with a beautiful, natural tile running from floor to ceiling, giving the room a real sense of grandeur, with complete practicality.
Back into the entry foyer and on the opposite side is another generous sized bedroom and a very glamorous powder room. We chose a beautiful grey feature tile in this room, and we love the clean lines of the vanity and how mirrors wrap the walls, giving it a more open feel. Hiding the cistern also adds to the sense of space in what can essentially be a small room.
Walking past the gallery, we arrive at the master suite. It would have to be our favourite room in the entire home, with its open plan ensuite, huge freestanding tub and generous walk in robe. You can lie in bed and gaze outside into the courtyard. It feels like you’re on holiday when you’re in there, which is exactly what a master suite should feel like! Adjacent to the master suite is the formal lounge. It may be large in size, but it has a cosy feel due to the fact it features high profile windows, which allow lots of natural light but prevents glare on your television screen. A great place for watching all night movie marathons away from the kids!
As you walk further down the hall, the house opens up into what we like to call “the heart of the home”, a spacious combined kitchen, dining and living area. This is the place where most families would spend the majority of time together. It is so light and airy, with the raised ceiling creating a grand sense of space. Marcus from Designer Living Kitchens has done a fantastic job. It is a stunning design, modern and sleek, yet extremely functional. The seamless design sees the integration of the laundry and butler’s pantry, and the addition of SMEG appliances add to the overall high-end feel of the kitchen.
Following on is the spacious dining area, which sits perfectly between the kitchen and family living area, taking full advantage of both the stunning courtyard and rear deck. This area is such as great space for entertaining. The cavity sliding glass doors open up the entire space and bring the outdoors in, perfect for taking advantage of the climate here on the Coffs Coast. You can just imagine yourself relaxing by the outdoor BBQ on a balmy summer’s night, entertaining friends and family.
The lounge features a built in wall entertainment system to maximise use of space, and a peekaboo window underneath the TV enhances the natural light in the room even further.
The finishing touches in any home are important. How did you decide to present the interior of the display home?
Together with our stylist, we brought the home together with the styling of the furniture and décor. You get a real sense of calm and relaxation as soon as you walk in. Natural textures like timber, stone and the use of straw baskets echo the natural surroundings, and the use of colours such as cool greys mixed with warm whites and navy really help to bring the beach lifestyle indoors. I would say the interior is the perfect combination of “Hampton’s style, complemented with resort and nautical features working to create a space for families that imbues comfort and elegance”. I think we have achieved the perfect space to simply relax and unwind.
Particular attention has been paid to landscaping as well?
The gardens have been designed by a local garden designer, Claudia Neville from Garden Expressions. We wanted something that was low maintenance but that reflected the natural surroundings, and we love the end result. Both native and tropical plants were used. The amazing central courtyard is one of our favourite spots in the home, with its feature Pandanus tree, timber decking, stone clad wall and a water feature combining to create a beautiful space. It is perfect for entertaining, and most rooms in the house get a view of this area, ensuring nature is a feature in every room. The use of decorative roof panelling adds texture, and wonderful shadows dance on the ground most of the day. It really is a lovely space to sit and relax.
Rick, why did you decide to become a builder?
I guess you could say building is in my blood. My family has over 150 years in the building industry. My father, grandfather and great grandfather were all builders, so I guess that makes me fifth generation. It’s all I’ve ever known, and I couldn’t think of another career I’d enjoy more.
My father started his apprenticeship as a carpenter in 1963 at the age of 16 in the Clarence Valley, before moving to Sydney. When he returned, he started as one of the first country franchise builders, building several hundred homes with Huxley Homes over a 16-year period. My grandfather started out as a carpenter around 1935, also at the age of 16, building many beautiful homes and churches, also throughout the Clarence Valley. My great-grandfather started in around 1900, at the age of 14. His name was Archibald Mackinnon, and he was a ship’s carpenter who helped build the “City of Grafton” in Scotland, on which he then sailed on to come to Australia, so I guess you could say building is certainly a family legacy.
I remember going out to building sites with my father when I was four or five years old, playing on the piles of sand, climbing on scaffolding, trying to bring home all the offcuts of timber and bricks so I could make cubby houses. My father also developed a number of display homes over many years, and I remember my sisters and I would race into the houses as quickly as possible to claim the room we wanted, as if we where going to move in and make it our own.
Susan and I have been in the building game for over 20 years ourselves now, and we are a really proud family business. Coffs Harbour is such a special place to live, and we’re lucky to be able to build great homes in one of the most beautiful places in Australia.
What can prospective customers expect if they choose to build with you?
We are a family business that takes immense pride in what we do. We use local tradespeople and local suppliers and while we build homes, we also like to think we play a part in building the community that brings home owners, investors and tenants together. When you choose a local builder, you are also investing in their knowledge. They know what’s under the soil, they know the local Councils, and their businesses are run by people who will benefit from the improved local community they create.
My wife, Susan, and I, along with the rest of our team, are committed to building a business here on the Coffs Coast, and we value honesty first and foremost. There is no better way of developing trust between us, our customers and our building partners than by being truthful and honest in every single customer and partner interaction. We’re honest in our feedback, and this is crucial in giving people transparency in the project. We offer fixed-price contracts and believe in being transparent in all our dealings with customers.
The other benefit is that when you work with G.J. Gardner Homes, there are many options for customers to consider. For people at the very start of the building journey you can choose from a great range of specialty home designs exclusive to G.J. Gardner. Most designs have a range of facades and options to suit almost any block. We are also happy to work with people to build a completely bespoke house, or people sometimes already have a plan for a home drawn up and are simply looking for a quality builder to make it a reality. No matter the circumstance, we can work with every customer to build the house of their dreams.
We believe we go above and beyond what is expected. Building a house can be a daunting experience, and a lot of customer care is required throughout the process. Being sensitive to our customers’ needs, wants and emotions throughout is key. We always try to remember that while this is one of many builds for us, for them, it is THE build.
We’re proud of what we have achieved over the past two years, and we have been recognised by the industry for our efforts, winning awards such as Best Exhibition/Project Home NSW ($300,001-$350,000) at the Master Builders Association Excellence in Housing/Building Awards in 2014. We also picked up an award at the 2014 HIA Northern NSW Housing, Kitchen and Bathroom Awards, winning the regional award for Best Exhibition Home ($300,001 – $350,000) and the Regional Award Winner for Best Kitchen under $25,000. Most recently we received a Merit Award for “Best Medium Density Project – Townhouses and Villas” category in the 2015 NSW Northern Regional Master Builders Awards for Excellence. And while these accolades are amazing, what we are most proud of is being an ethical local family owned business.
Why should new homebuilders visit a display home?
Visiting a display home gives people the chance to really experience a house and all its features prior to investing in it. While looking at pictures and designs of a house is useful, it doesn’t provide the depth of understanding that physically experiencing a house does. Design aspects such as the kitchen layout can look perfect in a plan or on Pinterest, but it isn’t until you actually go in and try it that you might realise the cupboards are impractical or the bench is slightly too high for your family’s needs. It also provides people with ideas that they might not have thought of, such as including a butler’s pantry, courtyard or study nook. It really does help with the design decision making process, and you often can speak direct with the builders on site to find out more. Visiting a display home is the perfect way to imagine what it will be like living in your dream home!
Rick and Susan invite everyone to come and experience their new display home at 3 Cherry Street, North Sapphire Beach, open 9am to 5pm, seven days a week. Anyone who visits the new display home between now and the end of October can go in the draw to win a SMEG Microwave valued at $550.
Contact GJ Gardner Coffs Coast
3 Cherry Street, North Sapphire Beach, NSW
7 Days, 9am – 5pm.
(02) 6691 3509