THE LOCAL FILES: DUNCAN FROOMES
Duncan Froomes is a Mornington Peninsula local – growing up in the area. His love of the seaside lifestyle and the community spirit has kept him on the Peninsula where he has renovated properties and set up his building company, Constructive Developments. “I did a Science degree at Uni and then entered the world of civil construction in an Environmental Engineering capacity,” explains Duncan. “Then for a period I was running a consultancy that advised architects, drafts people and builders on sustainable design and thermal performance assessments on homes.” During that time Duncan was still involved in building - with his own properties - and he decided that was what he loved most.
Constructive Developments is a small boutique building group. Says Duncan, “We run a tight team and concentrate on architecturally designed homes and challenging extensions rather than more simple renovations. We are focused on quality rather than volume. Exploring persistent quality on every project has led to consistent work and that core focus has stood us in good stead. As a result we haven’t even set up a website after more than eight years in business. To be honest we have never really required one. We have been so busy since we launched that we have never had the time – or the need for a website.”
Last year Duncan introduced a new aspect to the company – pre-sale and pre-auction renovations – again in the more high-end market. “We recently completed work on a sub-penthouse suite in Albert Road, South Melbourne. After the renovation it sold prior to auction which was a great result in the current climate and proved worthwhile for the owner. With these projects we literally have two or three weeks to complete the renovation so it’s full on, stressful and exhausting work but extremely rewarding. These projects generally don’t require council permits. There are a few companies who have identified this niche in the market but again our core focus is on quality and high-end renovations.”
Duncan explains that Council approvals are generally required when there are serious planning overlays. Some works including decks, verandas, pools etc. although exempt under the planning scheme can still require an amendment to an existing planning permit. Therefore, it can be a complex and involved process to obtain approval for new builds and extensions/alterations.
When engaging the services of Constructive Developments, they advise clients to first meet with an architect or draftsperson who can draw up plans and provide the engineering documents. Explains Duncan, “We can also provide recommendations on the build once we have seen the drawings and the engineering, to get the costs down where possible and offer advice on the practical side of the build. Without drawings and engineering we can’t price the build and we much prefer to offer a clear price for the project.”
In terms of design, Duncan finds that coastal aesthetics are the predominant style of choice on the Mornington Peninsula. Contemporary, modern homes are the most appealing to locals but occasionally there is an opportunity to work on more creative, progressive architectural designs. “There are a number of exceptions to the rule but overall a contemporary coastal theme is the most popular. The current climate has been difficult of course, but if anything we have noticed an increase in the number of people approaching us for renovations. That is in part due to the fact there is not an abundance of land available on the Peninsula for new builds, but also because of a keen interest in home improvement.”
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