THE incredible Cape Paterson home that featured on Grand Designs Australia has won locally-based Martin Builders the National Master Builders Australia Award for Excellence in Building and Construction.
David Martin accepted the award last Saturday week at a gala event at Canberra’s Parliament House.
With national exposure on Grand Designs Australia, and now a prestigious national award, not surprisingly, Dave’s a man demand, even though the building industry is doing it tough right now.
“We’ve had calls from architects, designers and clients, as well as people asking advice about some of the technical aspects the Cape home.”
He’s even been approached by the Seven Network for a judging gig on a ‘Block-style’ show.
It was the first time Martin Builders had entered an award, and despite the fanfare, it’s the last major project the company has undertaken.
Although Martin Builders is still going strong, since then, Dave has been flat out in his new venture, Archiblox, located behind the old Dahlsens site in Wonthaggi.
He’s teamed up with Melbourne architect Bill McCorkell and they’ve built a thriving business designing and constructing modular and transportable homes.
Most of the homes are built at the Wonthaggi site and then trucked off all over Australia.
Archiblox has clients from Wonthaggi to Byron Bay, the Adelaide Hills, Perth and even Port Headland.
“The sales and design office is in Burnley and the construction happens here,” Dave said.
“It’s only been the past 10 months that the business has started to get some traction.
“We now have 45 employees and then there are the plumbers and electricians – so it would be 45 to 60.”
He said the softer building industry has actually benefited the business.
“It’s been easy to build a workforce when there are quality tradespeople available.”
He said the product fits in perfectly with his own ideals.
“There are a lot companies that specialise in the $150,000 to $200,000 price range, and also the higher end $500,000-plus architecturally-designed homes.
“We’re more in the middle of that price range, but we’re offering architecturally-designed homes that focus on passive solar design, reduced dead area and spaces, and non-mechanical heating and air conditioning.
“I have a passion for self-sufficient living. That includes power, water and even food, and making it accessible and affordable.”
He said building the homes on site works for the both the clients and the business.
“The pre-fabrication market has really evolved. It’s great because we can focus on quality control, otherwise it would involve a lot of travelling.
“The advantage for the clients is that it eliminates the six or seven-month building period.
“If you buy a block, usually you have to rent at the same time while the house is being built. These can be done in four weeks, which is also good for neighbours.
“The logistics is a massive part of this though. It’s like running two jobs – the site works and the actual building.”
Archiblox is also branching into commercial and office projects, while the new 4 x 4m Backyard Rooms are also proving popular, even winning an award at the Melbourne International Flower show.
With business booming, Dave said Archiblox will need a bigger site.
The office is a tricked up shipping container dubbed the ‘Sardine Can’, while there’s not much space left in the building yard.
“We’re looking for sites that will be big enough to allow us to expand.
“We’ll need about 10 acres. We’re hoping to stay in Bass Coast and so we continue to support the local community.”
As for the awards nights, he said he feels more comfortable in hi-vis gear than a suit.
“At the Victorian Master Builders Association awards, we had no idea we would win.
“The judges came out onto the site but gave us no indication after that whether we’d be in with a chance.
“I’d put it out of my mind until the awards at the Crown Palladium.
“I was enjoying the night with a couple of beers as they went through all the categories, then our name was called out which was awesome, apart from then having to speak in front of 770 people.”
It was similar scenario at the National awards held at Parliament House on November 16.
No preliminary judging was required this time.
“I accepted the award but it was on behalf of a core team of six or eight of us.
“That’s the only reason why we can do it and they deserve the award as much as I do.”
Business booming for Dave Martin