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Housing : March 2009
The 9-Point Guarantee of the NSW Building Code should improve this.’ Eden Brae has about 90 employees – sales consultants, admin and accounting staff, customer service people, planning and design people, and the construction teams on site (about 30 per cent). Todd says the company’s volume is about 400 jobs a year, excluding medium-density projects, which fluctuate greatly from year to year. ‘It’s a bit of a fickle market, that one. It’s one of those things that’s great to do when there’s demand for it, but it’ll never be one of our major lines.’ Eden Brae’s involvement in medium density is essentially in project development for private investors. ‘I think there’s a very challenging year ahead, despite the reductions in interest rates. We’ve had a bit of a pickup among first-home buyers because of the firsthome grant, but there’s been a slowdown among second- and third-home buyers because they feel insecure about employment prospects. ‘You can make money as cheap as you want, but if people don’t have a job they can’t service debt. We’ve got people with council approval to build a house, but they’ve had to put it on hold.’ The company’s BuildSure arm was established in August last year. Todd says that BuildSure ‘is effectively a customer commitment guarantee’. The new guarantee ‘takes all the worry out of building’, says Todd. HOUSING MARCH 2009 ‘What we’re doing is to reassure clients about things like quality, timetabling and completion dates. I think all builders are going to have to offer these assurances in future. It’ll have to be part and parcel of building. ‘Building is very daunting for people. But statistics show that only about one in seven people builds a new house. So we try to take the stress out of it for them and make it as easy as possible.’ Todd says that providing BuildSure’s guarantees has not added significantly to Eden Brae’s operating cost. ‘It simply formalises what we do in practice anyway. The market has received it very well.’ BuildSure ‘is effectively a customer commitment guarantee’ What’s his ‘take’ on trends in plot sizes? ‘Over the past five years they’ve been reduced quite significantly. First of all they went down to 450 square metres, which the market initially had problems accepting, but which is now readily accepted. Most of our stuff now is 450 and below. It’s the cost of land, and not construction, that has gone up.’ Todd sees the major trend in customer requirements as ‘towards fully integrated living’. ‘With the lot sizes getting smaller, you obviously need to do more with the BuildSure is built on what Eden Brae calls a ‘9-Point Guarantee’. This is covered in detail on BuildSure’s own website www.buildsure.net.au. The nine points are: • allocated start date • inclusions guaranteed • fixed price contract • guaranteed completion time • rental guarantee – which is a commitment to pay clients’ rental costs up to $400 a week in the event of completion delays • independent quality inspection • extensive warranty program • environmental management • best value for money. house, to take advantage of what you have. Most houses these days require adequate car accommodation, generous size bedrooms, al fresco dining areas, home entertainment areas and informal living areas. ‘But obviously, as land becomes more expensive, some things have to go.’ Todd also acknowledges environmental and sustainability issues. ‘I am a registered GreenSmart builder, and we work very closely with the Department of Planning in the introduction of Basix.’ Asked to summarise Eden Brae’s recipe for success, Todd says: ‘You’ve got to tick all the boxes. You’ve got to have the right product, the right sales process, right customer service, and deliver quality homes in construction’. H 67