Eight women who came together in an innovative joint venture to design and build a pair of beautiful and sustainable homes, are celebrating its successful completion.
Rebeka Morgan and her partner John of BuildHer Collective and Beirin Projects, have been renovating and developing for years and decided to share this journey with seven other women who all have a love and passion for renovating and developing. The collaborative process saw each of the BuildHer8 take a role in the project, creating two seven-star energy rated homes rather than the “uninspiring” townhouses the block came with planning approval for.
One of the homes, North House, was sold off the plan when neighbours, who had been watching the process, loved it so much that they decided to swoop in quickly and seal the deal! The remaining South House (pictured throughout) is now up for auction this weekend.
“As women we have the power to create beautiful spaces and by teaming up, we can increase our capacity for change, share the risk and have a massive pile of fun along the way,” says Rebeka. “This project is super special.”
She adds: “The cheapest product (for example, the planned townhouses) is not always the best outcome. Putting the effort in to understand how people want to live and thinking about future use and sustainability is a worthy investment and endeavour.”
Fellow BuildHer8 member Ivy Huang explains: “The existing plans were for two townhouses that were bulky, uninspiring, and in our opinion, did not provide the best flow and amenities for family living. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to take a different approach and design something special instead. Rebeka’s brief to our architects, Ben Callery Architects, was to design two different but complementary houses that would optimise the space as well as account for the site, the orientation and indeed, how each house would impact the other.
“We deliberately chose an architect firm with strong values in sustainability. This strategy to redesign obviously comes with an added cost, but we actually believe this was the opportunity that other people missed. And that made the project exciting to us!”
BuildHer Collective teach women how to build a lifestyle around property development in their DevelopHer’s Masterclass. “As part of that, we have a true passion for the built environment, and believe every developer and renovator has a responsibility to care about sustainability. There are now a handful of innovative developers who are really pushing the bar high in terms of sustainability in developments, but the fact that they are considered innovative and not the norm shows we have plenty to go! We love being part of that conversation and progress, and excited to see the industry grow in this direction,” Ivy says.
The group of eight women comprised a huge variety of personalities and skill sets, with their ages spanning across nearly 30 years and with very diverse backgrounds. “We have used this to our advantage by divvying up responsibilities so that each participant gets to shine and have hands-on experience in the project,” Ivy says. “But we’ve also had to rally together to get some menial tasks done, such as cleaning or unpacking boxes of styling items. What we’ve learnt is that there’s never a perfect division of tasks and responsibilities, and that also ebbs and flows over the life of a project. If there’s an expectation of a perfect division, there’ll always be dissatisfaction! What is important is that everyone is leaning in and doing their best!”
The advantages of everyone chipping in were certainly more than just financial. “Eight minds are better than one! Between us we have eight time more contacts, skill sets and capabilities, and that is a tremendous benefit! Developing can be a lonely game, and that’s one of the reasons BuildHer Collective was created. We now have a wonderful community of likeminded women who support each other. And doing a joint venture like this is really as communal as it gets and we’d love to see more!”
And in fact, three more JVs have been created under BuildHer Collective since this one! “We think people crave community collaboration, and with the right set of tools and information, anyone can do it,” Ivy says.
If you’re thinking of going in with friends to do something similar, setting yourself up for success is crucial. “Work through and document your intentions, scenarios and protections,” Ivy explains. “Another big one is working through financing options, because getting a loan under a JV is drastically different to home loans. We wrote a blog that address this very topic.”
The BuildHer8 are Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon, the co-founders of BuildHer Collective, Rachel Collard, Alison Lewis, Pricilla Chan, Ohnmar Ruault, Louise Van Zelm and Ivy Huang.
Project: BuildHer Collective | Build: Beirin Projects | Architect: Ben Callery Architects | Interiors & Styling: BuildHer Collective, Co Kitchens & Alison Lewis Interiors | Photos: Dylan James
South House real estate listing, going to auction this Saturday 11 December 2021.