Since founding McDonald Jones in 1987, managing director Bill McDonald, OAM, has seen a great many changes in the home building industry. Here he reflects on both the past and future.
Q. Given COVID-19’s impact, is now the time for people to invest in bricks and mortar?
A: Thinking about it, there’s never been a better time to build. Not only are there a number of great government incentives around to help families planning to build a new home, there’s never been more tangible value in investing in bricks and mortar. Given the year we’ve all had, ‘home’ has never been more important to people. I think COVID-19 has really highlighted how the modern home is more than just walls and floors. It’s now where people work every day, where multigenerational families live together and, of course, where some of the most important moments in our lives take place. That means now is a great time for people to make their dream home a reality and take advantage of all the current incentives and offers.
Q. What is your home design philosophy?
A. Our focus has always been on value-for-money building and liveable designs with great inclusions. We have always worked hard to include all the benefits and considerations of an architecturally designed home while ensuring it’s affordable for everyday Australians. As one of the largest builders of detached houses across Australia, we’re recognised leaders in new and innovative ways to create the perfect home for a wide range of people. Whether it’s for first home buyers, a large family needing versatile spaces or a redesign of the classic granny flat, we consider all the ways people live and interact with each other. At the end of the day, people are what drive our business and this will always be the case.
Q. Can you give some examples of how your homes fit the way Australian families want to live?
A. Australian homes have certainly evolved over the decades. We place more consideration on things like great outdoor areas and open-plan living these days so we can enjoy all those great Aussie moments like backyard barbecues and family celebrations. Our homes now have more connection and flow from area to area; gone are the days of living in only one part of the house. Now, people want a central communal area that brings the family together while also having spaces for privacy and retreat. We have become one of Australia’s most trusted builders over the last 30 years because we have always used high-quality materials that are manufactured for Aussie conditions — this means the end product is tailored for Australian living. That’s why we build with Supaloc steel frames. This precision-engineered system uses TrueCore steel and comes with a 50-year manufacturer structural warranty. We routinely partner with leading Aussie suppliers to ensure the best outcome and that our homes will stand the test of time.
Q. What are some current home trends?
A. The Hamptons look is popular right now but the contemporary look (box on box), which reflects sharp architectural lines, is certainly growing. This, I believe, will soon be recognised by even more people as an efficient building method. We also continue to introduce innovative products and materials so people can personalise their homes and create something unique to their needs. And with our reliance on tech and more people working from home, we will see some exciting evolutions in the way we design our homes to even better reflect the way we live and work today.
Q. What do you think are the main challenges people face today when planning to build a home?
A. In some areas, the great Australian dream has been restricted by lot size and layout or developer regulations that say a home has to look a certain way. This can create multiple challenges, especially if the guidelines are at odds with what an owner wants. Also, as new communities develop, we need to ensure the surrounding community infrastructure is in place for people building new homes. On the upside, the approvals process and building timeframes are certainly getting quicker; these were things that used to be a source of frustration for customers. Also, now we can offer things like in-house finance and conveyancing, specific to building a new home, which speeds things up even more, as well as helping customers save money.
Q. How has home building changed over the years?
A. I’ve seen the launch and use of various materials, such as Hebel, steel frames instead of timber, Colorbond roofs instead of traditional materials. It has certainly changed over the years from Colonial and Federation style homes to current styles like the Hamptons. Today there’s also a mix of materials on facades and new roof styles. We now offer so many more design options than we did in the early years and the degree of choice will only increase given that people now want to personalise their homes, and in light of the move towards more energy efficient materials and smart homes. Whatever changes and trends the future may bring, it will always be our goal to build timeless, quality homes that will be a great investment.
Q. What milestones are you most proud of?
A. The way Australians have embraced our designs by choosing to build with us, as well as all our industry awards, such as winning MBA Display Home of the Year and HIA Major Professional Builder of the Year Hunter Region on numerous occasions have all been really proud moments. Also, our work pioneering the Supaloc steel frames into both our one- and two-storey designs was certainly a great achievement. Our interactions with our customers and their feedback always guide us; it’s what drives our team to transform people’s lives every day. People often don’t know all the little things that make a home feel great when they walk through it: the way spaces flow, the natural light and the spatial architectural decisions. It’s what sets our homes apart from others: you feel at home the moment you walk through a McDonald Jones home. Ultimately, I’m most proud that we have played a pivotal role in the lives of so many Australians, helping them to build their dream home and transforming the way they live.
Q. What lies ahead for McDonald Jones?
A. We plan to be the largest home builder in Australia, creating forever homes for our customers. Also, customer advocacy is very important to us and we will continue that. We hope the children who live in our homes today choose McDonald Jones homes in the future. We know the home is the foundation of so many of life’s memories and special moments, and after three decades, we certainly plan to be around well into the future to lead the way in beautiful residential homes across Australia. In my eyes, we’re only 30 years young — I believe the best is yet to come.
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