Development doesn’t need to be a dirty word. While occasionally synonymous with looking to quickly flip a property for gain, many property developers are now looking to develop sustainably and ethically, and create places that will be loved by their occupants.
The BuildHer Collective comprises a group of eight women with a plethora of skills across public relations, interior design and property building, the collective was born from a desire to teach women how to build and develop for profit, who are looking to take the step into property development.
BuildHer Collective Director, Rebeka Morgan, credits the team for allowing the group to realise its full potential, which formed at the beginning of the covid pandemic.
“What we did at the beginning of the collective coming together was to consult everyone and work out what exactly it was they wanted to do, and from there everyone was entrusted with a unique role in the project, which worked out perfectly,” she says.
BuildHer’s latest project offering comes in the form of two townhouses, North House and South House, located in Fairfield in Melbourne’s north. Created with six DevelopHer Masterclass graduates in conjunction with Morgan, Director Kribashini Hannon and Ben Callery Architects, the homes resemble two architecturally contrasting dwellings born from the same idea: to create a pair of sustainable dwellings that challenge the design language of Fairfield.
Morgan, a former Director of a major Melbourne construction company, says it was important for the two homes to be individual, in order to ensure they were unique for each family that would live within them.
“We didn’t want for both houses to be carbon copies of each other, which is why they are purposely different. The unique talents of each interior designer are on show in each house. Rachel (Collard, interior designer) has a tendency to opt for darker colours, whereas Alison (Lewis, interior designer) has a lighter tonal palette and a focus on material and texture,” she says.
“We would actually switch the interior of the houses between the two of them, and what resulted was two very individual and unique designs for the interiors of each house.
“We like to build family homes that are going to be used for the next 30-50 years, and that are going to be loved. It’s important for us to implement a number of sustainable features and spend the time to go to that extra length to create a great project and think about the people who will be living in the home and how they will utilise it.”
A truly collaborative endeavour, the BuildHer team and Ben Callery Architects undertook the design process for both North and South House while they were sharing an office. Given Callery and his team’s expertise in creating sustainable dwellings, it was something of a perfect union between the two.
Both homes have achieved a 7-star NatHERS green rating, through the implementation of a number of sustainable features including a 9.1kW solar system with Tesla Powerwall, a Reclaim heat pump hot water system, rainwater tanks and the use of recycled and naturally sourced materials.
Morgan says that BuildHer is a living embodiment of women in the built environment industry being able to balance work and home life, and to be able to create developments that will be loved for generations.
“We’ve got a group of women that are looking to get into the industry of developing properties, whether that be full time or alongside their day jobs. I think there’s a lot of drive to set ourselves up as women and leverage our skills, as well as tackle projects, which is super fun.
“I feel the commercial building industry isn’t great for women. It’s long hours and high stress and while that’s certainly fun in our 20s, there’s a point where family can become the focus.
“For all of us at BuildHer Collective, it's about finding balance between families and the built environment, and nurturing the passion we still have, we just don’t want to work six days a week from 7am-7pm.”
The BuildHer collective consists of Priscilla Chan, Ohnmar Ruault, Kribashini Hannon, Rebeka Morgan, Louise Van Zelm, Alison Lewis, Ivy Huang and Rachel Collard. BuildHer Collective continues to assist women in bringing their dream homes to life, as well as developing for profit. To find out more regarding the organisation, visit buildhercollective.com.au.