February 2009. Chris Clarke had just spent two years building his minimalist timber and steel dream home at Callignee in Gippsland when, less than a week after completion, it was burnt to the ground in the devastating Black Saturday bushfires. With nothing remaining but a concrete slab and a burnt out shell Chris was left shattered and numb.
After recovering from the initial grief he was determined to re-build and re-use every last salvageable element of the original house. What he creates in the year or so following is simply remarkable. By adding sturdy recycled elements with the latest fire resistant materials, Chris sets out to produce a tough, resilient version of the original home (now dubbed Callignee One). Wearing its embattled past as a badge of honour, will Callignee Two not only face up to the Aussie bush?
Architect Domenic Alvaro and his partner Sue Bassett are urban animals who love the inner city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney. However their dream location comes with a nightmare price tag. So, they come up with a unique way of keeping costs down and do this by buying very small and building very tall.
After buying a tiny corner car park measuring 7m x 6m they set out to create 220 square metres of light filled living space. Their vertical build comes together quickly thanks to pre-fab concrete panels which fit together like Lego. Construction itself is fast and efficient but there are interesting challenges on site. A miniscule block and two narrow cross streets won't submit to the needs of a gigantic crane in a hurry - and the crane is essential as it hauls the huge panels and windows into position. Basically something's gotta give - and it does. Will the result be worth the hassle
When Jan and Ed Gillman bought a tumble-down weatherboard in Southport, their first intention was to demolish and start again. But on learning its unique history as the 1880's summer house of Sir Augustus Gregory (one of the oldest houses in Southport), they decide to restore instead and plan to lift the original house and move it forward two metres on the block.
What follows is a painstaking restoration process - and with no official heritage guidelines in place Jan and Ed are faced with a difficult choice: take the laborious path of restoring the house to its former glory or opt for the easier path and lose the history of the house.
Julie and Patrick Eltridge bought in Sydney's beachside Clovelly three years ago, paying .6 million for an old house on a sloping block. It was the land and its sea views they wanted, not the asbestos-riddled house. With time a concern, they have to find a way to fast track a slick, uber modern, two-story residence in a matter of months. The solution comes from Melbourne and a firm of pre-fab builders, who custom build them four top end, architect designed modules in a highly efficient, regulated environment. On completion, the pods will be trucked to Sydney in a dramatic, oversized convoy and then crane lifted into position. Another challenging element of the build centres around the demolition and site preparation in Sydney. One of the site issues has more twists and plot turns than an Agatha Christie novel making the new modules look like a breeze.
For 17 years Trevor and Francoise Sullivan have lived with their two kids and numerous animals in an open sided shed on 33 bushy acres at Lake Bennett south of Darwin. With money tight they were sustained by thoughts of the beautiful home they'd one day enjoy - so they both nutted out a unique design. A cyclone proof, tropical tree house that is windowless and based on the shape of a 50 cent piece.
With little or no funds, Trevor (a wood carver) is building it all himself (including furniture) with the help of generous mates. The going is slow but one of the first things finished is the magnificent central staircase, carved from a fallen Paperbark Tree. Will they get the roof on before the wet season? That is the question.
If ever there was an ideal place for a Hamptons house outside the Hamptons, the Gold Coast hinterland would be it - wide open spaces, balmy sea-kissed air and a sense of prosperity. For Steve and Lisa Morley it's the American dream or nothing for their 4,000 square metre block.
They love everything about the Hamptons style, from the warm timbers, to the many windows, pavilion style design, parquetry flooring and classic, soft interior furnishings. Lisa has done her research, designing many elements herself and will stop at nothing to fulfill her dream.
Nothing like an impulsive act to take you down a path you hadn't expected in life. For engineer Peter Riedel and his interior designer wife Mary, their sudden whim was to purchase an 1870's church for ,000. It wasn't even upright at the time and all they got was a pile of boards. Still, it captured their imagination and a plan took shape to re-build the church on their property, overlooking Wilsons Promontory and convert it into a house. Like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, their biggest challenge is the number of pieces missing.
Drew Muirhead is a self employed entrepreneur and man about town. He's building a Balinese resort style mansion in leafy Cottage Point. Not one to do things by halves, Drew's mansion will have Balinese Pavilions, an infinity pool, its own nightclub, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a steam room. It all faces a private beach with boatshed and speedboat.
The biggest battle for Drew, who is project managing the build - is the steep sloping block and access.
Ian McDonald and Rob Wilhelm are not building an understated new home. Theirs is a Grand Design in its most literal sense. A glass box with a roof like floating wings overlooking Port Phillip Bay on the Bellarine Peninsula - seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, cinema, games room, glass lift, glass panelled pool, rooftop garden - all the bells and whistles, all the boy's toys. With a construction budget of .8 million, the question is will they burst the budget banks and by how much?