Design & Construct Building Method with DevelopHer Basia

Basia had been looking to buy a house for about six months when she come across a fantastic big flat 980 sqm block in Surrey Hills, Victoria. Renovating or building a whole new house certainly wasn’t part of her plan, but when she found the Payne Street property, she saw an opportunity not to be missed, even though it would mean staying in her rental for another two years.

Initially she had assumed that she would knock down the old house, find an off-the-plan design and have it built. So, after negotiating a long settlement, with access to the property so she could begin the planning, she set out visiting different builder’s display houses to find her new home. After walking through about half a dozen houses and looking at various designs, she quickly realised this property really needed a custom build. None of the off-the-plan house designs suited the block’s orientation and she didn’t want to live in a big dark house full of empty spaces to heat and cool.


Basia wanted a new build that was both complementary to the neighbourhood and would stand out from the crowd, but still look timeless and classic. Her family had just moved back from living in America where her husband was based for work. It was here that she had discovered the clean lines of modern barn house designs, and she loved that all over America and Europe this type of architecture stood out and didn’t seem to date. This was also a style not found in local off-the-plan homes.

After a negative experience on a previous property, working with an architect then trying to find a builder to suit, she decided not to engage an architect in isolation, and instead started to research boutique Design and Construct companies. A friend had recommended Rycon, a local custom builder who also offered in house design, and after seeing their hoardings all around the Surrey Hills area she grew confidence and decided to set up a meeting.

After an initial chat about the process, she was promptly given a list of addresses to drive by and inspect a few of their houses currently in construction. This was a great, and important, opportunity to go to sites and see the trades working and get a feel for the company.

Being risk adverse, the Design and Construct method aligned well with Basia’s personality. She doesn’t like surprises and wanted the build process to be explained to her along the way which Rycon were more than happy to oblige.

Basia ultimately chose Rycon because she not only liked what she saw, but she believed they had a good reputation in the market for building on time and on budget. Having the mindset that there would be obstacles during the build, she felt comfortable she could raise issues with them as well.

“I got the greatest vibe from Rycon – from Ryan and all of the team that we worked with – they were warm and friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to work with me on a build that was a little unusual for them and for the area. I felt like I was in good hands all the way through the process, and they delivered to a very high level, on time and on budget.”

From there the process was quite straight forward. She paid an initial fixed fee to have surveys done and a concept design and plans drawn up. Next costings were worked out based on standard inclusions of the floorplan, along with more specific details and any variations they knew at the time. Once they approved the pretender amount, costings were firmed up as they finalised selections. Knowing what was included in the contract price before they started building allowed her also to make informed decisions on what upgrades and variations she wanted.


In terms of design, the shape of the house is classic. It had to be elevated with modern living and flow. Floor to ceiling windows, handless cabinetry and lots of glazing gives the house a sense of calm and there’s great connection the garden.  It was important to feel a sense of seclusion like you were living in the country.

Basia also wanted to be able to entertain with ease. Her brief to Rycon was to ‘be able to have a party for 100 people easily’ and this influenced the flow of the home, with zoned living areas that allowed the kids to separate themselves from the adults during parties. Functional elements in the kitchen such as two integrated XXL dishwashers, two fridges, an incinerator, 700mm backbenches and an extra-wide 3×1.4m Superwhite marble island bench, allow for easy entertaining – and most importantly, easy clean-up! Rycon’s team were able to translate Basia’s ideas into a floorplan she loved. With a clear vision in mind, the design process was straightforward and Rycon were able to nail her brief.

Basia enjoyed the design build method because it allowed her to have creative input in the outcome while keeping on top of budget from the onset. Having a fixed price contract before the build was important and essential to manage other cost like curtains, landscaping, lighting and furniture to transform the project into a home.

Basia’s advice for someone considering a Design and Construct model: It requires a lot of trust upfront since there is no tender process to compare builder’s costs with, so you can second guess yourself a bit. One way to compare costs is to see what the contract price is with all your inclusions and compare it to an off the plan house with similar finishes. But remember display homes have all the bells and whistles and are often double the starting listing price.


You must feel comfortable with the company you are working with. Go and visit their sites and make sure their builds are of similar style to what you want. Execution of finishes is also important so pick a builder that does your style repeatedly.

Basia’s experience with a Design and Construct build has been nothing but positive and she would most certainly employ this method again if she chose to do another Knock Down New Build.

If you’re dreaming of transforming spaces, creating your ideal living environment, or seeking success in your renovation project, book a FREE 20-minute call HERE. We’d love to chat!

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