Design Builders – Northland
Design Builders interviewed Brendan Flude, the managing director of Design Builders’ new Northland office. After a career as an A-grade mechanic, which led him into a management role, Brendan returned to his first love. He has had a passion for architecture that goes all the way back to his schooldays.
This interview outlines his design vision that reignited his love of architecture, his advice for successful building, and what makes a great project manager.
This is an amazing home. Tell us about the idea behind it, and the overall brief you had.
The brief was simple. My wife Marcelle and I wanted a cost-effective, warm and efficient family home which reflected our love of minimalist design. And this is exactly what we have achieved.
We had a vision of clean lines, bold shapes and robust materials, combined with a desire for a minimal footprint. We believe it has resulted in a striking home: a simple, black rectangular box surrounded by lush, sloping paddocks, with a backdrop of protected native bush.
The goal was to build a modern architectural home within a fairly modest budget. We built it to suit the needs of our small family. We focused our resources and efforts on creating a large living area rather than having extra bedrooms.
We’d like to know a bit about the actual build. Were there any particular difficulties, and if so, how did you overcome them? And what was your role in this process?
The biggest challenge we had was the external finishing. We were using pure black Colorsteel; we went through a few installers, which extended the construction period. However, we were determined to make sure the quality and craftsmanship were up to standard.
I held multiple roles, from designer to unofficial project manager. In essence, I played a part in every stage, down to the plumbing and finishing touches like tiling.
What are you most excited or pleased about with this home?
Overall, we are happy with the general feel of the house, and with the flow and spaciousness of the floor plan. We have built the perfect living environment and atmosphere.
This is partly due to how the house has been positioned for the sun. At certain times of day, the sun streams in and relates to how we move and live within our space. But we had to make a few compromises to achieve this result. By limiting the floorplan to just two bedrooms and a shared family bathroom, we kept the build costs down without losing the sense of spaciousness, and were able to take better advantage of the sun.
The complete effect is of a perfectly formed small home graced with generous space and light.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of commissioning a new home?
My advice is simple: trust your builder and who you are working with. Building a new house for yourself is an emotional and stressful exercise, no matter what way you spin it. At Design Builders we go out of our way to spare you as much of that as we can, and replace it with professionalism, clear communication, and expertise.
Tell us about the region you work in. What’s so special about it?
Northland is a beautiful region with a growing population. We are lucky to be able to experience the amazing locations with little travel, making our lifestyle exceptional.
The community feel throughout the region is outstanding; we all believe in spending and supporting local. It’s a value and campaign that resonates with me, especially since joining Design Builders.
What does ‘A home built around you’ mean to you?
‘A home built around you’ is the founding concept of our company. For me it is about bringing together each client’s wants and needs – a step that can sometimes be missed by other companies. Whether the client wants a feature wall to bring the outdoors inside, or the addition of special detailing, or externally high finishing, I want it to become a reality and not remain just a dream.
What makes a great project manager?
One word: communication. We set the bar high in matters of client satisfaction and providing our new owners with a home of the highest craftsmanship.
If there are problems, we pride ourselves on getting them solved and carrying on, while staying honest and open. I’d much prefer to have a difficult conversation with a client early on than keep information from them.
Of course, the client is the most important person in the whole process. Tell us how you deal with the client throughout the build.
To build a home successfully, you must ensure you have an honest and co-operative relationship with the person you are building it for.
When building a strong relationship with a client, in my experience it all comes down to trust. This is at the heart of an enjoyable and productive relationship that will result in a great home; ‘A home built around you’.
In a nutshell, I am open and straightforward with the client throughout the entire process. I ensure that they are at the heart of the process.
Want to know more?
Enjoy a free, no-obligation chat with Brendan
Find out about our whole exciting process, from start to finish. Understand the architect’s role, work out your budget, look through our portfolio, pick up great tips and ideas, and ask questions. If you’re thinking about building, it’s the perfect first step.