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French revolution

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By commissioning a host of talented tradespeople, two passionate building brothers produced an elegant Melbourne residence that won the coveted 2021 HIA-CSR Australian People’s Choice Home award. Photos: Alex Reinders
This year’s HIA-CSR Australian People’s Choice Home award was a reward for the risk and self-belief of Melbourne firm Sheridan Building. It was also vindication for taking on such an out of the box project that pushed the boundaries for the custom builder run by the two Sheridan brothers, Travis and Jarrod. They founded the company in 2007, the latest in three generations of builders.

The brothers work with top architects and offer a state-of-the-art virtual design studio and an interior design service. Most of their projects are in the $1–2.5 million range and reflect modern contemporary design elements. However, this build was a $6–8 million budget, designed in French provincial style. While this look is growing in popularity among Melbourne’s well-to-do, it was something new for the company.

Ian Bushnell

Author

It’s easy to see a lot was riding on the outcome. This situation perfectly reflected how relationships could be strained through any project, let alone one of this size.
The winning result is a testament to the firm’s project costing and management, skilled trades and craftspeople, and strong relationships throughout the build.

The luxurious five-bedroom, six-bathroom bayside Brighton home – complete with kids’ playroom, separate study, recreation room, basement, gym, bar, cellar, indoor pool, sauna, steam room and an alfresco area – was the vision of Melbourne architect Christopher Doyle and collaboration with interior designer Justin Bishop.
But executing Doyle’s ‘very detailed set of plans’ was left to Travis as project manager, who said the clients were happy to work with Sheridan directly. ‘When jobs are documented well, we can do that. It made our job quite easy,’ he says.

Having decisive clients who were clear about their selections and needs also helped. Travis worked side by side with Justin Bishop throughout the two-and-a-half-year build because of the phenomenal amount of detail and finishing required.

As a structure, the two-storey brick veneer home was pretty simple, says Travis. But the project was not without its challenges. The first was actually getting the project off the ground; the clients decided they wanted a highly efficient but expensive geothermal HVAC system. Its basement drilling was supposed to last for two weeks but ended up taking three months.
Testing too was the eye-catching elliptical staircase that unites the home’s three levels. A continuous curved timber string runs from the basement all the way around right up to the top through a void. This ends with a skylight sitting above the stairwell, bathing the centre of the house with light.
Travis says all the wall plates were laser-cut by a cabinetmaker to ensure they were precise because the void in the suspended slab above the basement needed to be precisely the right size. ‘There was not a lot of margin for error,’ he says.

But it was the sheer extent of the finishing that Travis recalls most – the wainscoting, oxide-based render, in-situ mouldings, ornate plaster ceilings in just about every room, wrought ironwork, dry stone cladding and the marble and parquetry floors. ‘I had two or three carpenters for about four months just putting on the wall panelling,’ he says.
With every bedroom having an ensuite, there’s a lot of marble, including customised mosaic tiles for the master bedroom ensuite floor. ‘The client picked the stone types, and we had them custom water jet cut and laid in individual pieces,’ says Travis. ‘It was a task in itself, designing that to their specifications. It cost around $900 per square metre for those tiles to be produced.’

There’s a huge amount of custom cabinetry throughout the home – in the ensuites, kitchen and butler’s pantry and several other areas – all crafted by Complete Internal Design. A combination of French and bi-fold doors control the homes distinct zones for seasonal use, opening out to the central courtyard and outdoors in summer or closing off spaces in the cooler months.
With so many moving parts, Travis says it was crucial to get the costings right from the start and watch the cash flow. ‘With big projects like this, you have a lot of money coming and a lot of money going out.’

Having a reliable crew of trades and craftspeople was also imperative. Sheridan looks after all the carpentry and contract trades proven to produce the quality finish required. ‘You have to make sure you have the right people around you,’ says Travis.

Cutting corners, especially when under budget pressure, will only come back to haunt you. ‘Although it was budget-driven, they understood that to get a certain level of finish, they had to spend a certain amount of money,’ Travis says.

How People’s Choice was voted

Voted as the winner through Houzz Australia, the 2021 HIA-CSR Australian People’s Choice Home award was in the hands of the public. Devotees of beautiful homes and interiors weighed in on their favourite project from the 2020 HIA-CSR Home of the Year state winners.

The elegant Melbourne home built by Sheridan Building was selected as the consumers’ top choice in the 2021 HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards.
For Sheridan’s first-year apprentices, the project was a steep learning curve and a daunting introduction to the industry but a good one to work on from start to finish. ‘They learnt the importance of detail and getting things right from the initial framing, how it affects things right towards the end of the project.’

The Sheridan brothers are clearly passionate about what they do, and completing a complex project such as this was exciting from the outset. ‘The architect and interior designer were very happy with the job, and the clients were rapt,’ says Travis. ‘Ticking all those boxes and having an enjoyable build throughout is inspirational.’
It also can take a business to a new level, with Sheridan fielding two enquiries from clients using the same architect. The result and feedback also provided some motivation to enter the project in this year’s HIA awards.

‘Clients have a long list when they’re looking for a new builder,’ says Travis. ‘If they can see an independent assessment from those who have looked at these homes, it gives the clients confidence that as a builder, you can produce. It has definitely helped with our marketing and gives new clients confidence that we’re able to build a house to a high standard.’

Award

2021 HIA-CSR Australian People’s Choice Home award

Builder

Sheridan Building

Location

Brighton, Melbourne

Materials:

Windows: Whetstone Windows & Doors
Wrought iron: Colour Earth Wrought Iron
Render and mouldings: Farrell & Son Traditional Solid Plastering
Roofing and gutters: Spanish slate, Colorbond Ultra and Colorbond Stainless from Amalfi Roofing
Stone feature: Bogong Strata from Yarrabee & Castlemaine
Stone benchtops: Baltic Stone
Cabinetry: Complete Interior Design
Skylights: Atlight Skylights
Paint: Dulux from Knox Painters
Internal doors: ADC
Stairs: American oak from S&A Stairs
Door furniture: Tradco
Timber flooring: European oak with a custom stain from Le Parqueteur
Butler’s pantry floor tiles: 200 x 200 Perinni ceramic

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