Building a model home

Building a home can prove a daunting task For many who start out wanting a specially designed home, the house ends up never getting built or they end up seriously out of pocket as costs spiral out of control. But many of the pitfalls in building a home can be avoided if people have knowledge and understanding of the whole process before they start. To help show people the various stages of building a home the Phoenix Group Show Home project brings together the skills of The Phoenix Group’s Exeter Development, Icon Architecture and Phoenix Construction, which are designing and building a show home that the public can follow through a blog online. The house is being built for local family Brad and Trish Watts whose experiences are also recorded on the blog. Once the house is completed it will be open for viewing to the public before the Watts make it their home. 

Neil Rooney, managing partner of Exeter Property Development says the project is about taking the risk and fear out of building a home. “Too often people do not have a clear understanding of what goes into building a house,” says Rooney. “Cost is the big issue, too many times people can overestimate what they can afford and the house either never gets built in the first place or they end up going way over budget as costs escalate.” That can lead to all sorts of problems – arguments with architects and builders and the whole process ends up a misery instead of the exciting experience it should be. 

Rooney says the project has a different approach. “What we want to do is let people know exactly their costs from the start and establish budgets early on and also make the whole thing a creative process from the start.” 

They decided that the best way to involve the public, was by picking a couple who were just starting out on the whole adventure of having a house built and they could then blog their experiences online with accompanying photographs of each step. Neil says they talked to a lot of couples who were interested. “It needed to be people that are comfortable with having the process of opening up their lives to other people; also before they get their house handed over to them a whole lot of people will also have seen it as the house will be a fully furnished showhouse open to the public.” There was a considerable upside for the couple chosen though as the house is being built at cost. 

The first blog shows the Watts family – Brad, Trisha, daughter Mackenzie and another daughter on the way – making the all important decision on where they are going to live.  

Rooney says, “Even from the beginning in choosing the plot there was implications in costs between sites because of variables but we could advise the couple on price implications of their choice from the start.”  

The family first saw a lot at Sunrise Landing. The views were a big incentive but downsides were they had to build on piling, which is a significant cost increase, and the fact that a dock was not already in place. In the end a lot at Grand Harbour won out because the lot came filled so no need for piling and has a dock already built.  

With the plot chosen, Rooney is excited about the design. “This show home is going to be a model home. For me contemporary design was very important, we want to show a product that is cutting edge and will hit all the hot buttons for a family of four. One of our design philosophies as a design firm is that we are a big fan of the small house. I think this is where the trend is going.”  

For Rooney, small can be beautiful with out sacrificing comfort or design. “We want this showhouse to be an example of what you can do in 3,000 square feet. That you can have everything a family needs and it can be cutting edge design.” 

One of the concepts that the showhouse will be incorporating is the idea of bringing the outside in; that the outside space blends and complements the inside space. For instance the dining room opens onto the outdoor cooking area, something that makes perfect sense when you are living on a Caribbean Island.  

The showhouse will also feature a reevaluation of how floor space is distributed throughout the house, so bedrooms are down-sized so you can have a fantastic kitchen. Neil observes that this is because, “Kitchens used to be just a place where people cook but now its where families do their living.” 

Rooney says they are going to show people that you can have everything you want and need in 3,000 square feet, so included is a master suite bedroom, two other bedrooms for Mackenzie and the new baby daughter, a media room and office, a good sized living room with kitchen and outside, along with the other outdoor spaces mentioned, there is a pool with a water fall and a requested single car garage. 

Much of the home will be run on Home Gas, which was a big plus as far as the clients were concerned. 

Rooney is excited about the design of the house which he calls “dynamic”, the fact that people can follow its progress and learn about building a house and most importantly that once the house is built people will be able to see for themselves all that went into the design and hopefully find it an inspiration for their dream home. 


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