Recently we introduced you to Brenda Pomponio of 13 Acres, our new regular Step Inside contributor.
After learning more about why Brenda and her family made the "tree change" to the stunning North-East of Victoria, we wanted to share her story with you about her spectacular house build.
"We did have an architect help design our house, however my husband already had a very clear idea about how the structure of the house would look, and I had a vision about the interior and rooms."
Brenda and her husband started planning their new house well before they wanted to start building. It was a welcome slow process and they allowed the plan to evolve and develop during that time.
"We started the build in February 2013 whilst we were still living in Melbourne and the process took about 14 months all up."
The architect Brenda and her husband chose was recommended by a friend and he specialised in sustainable house design and they also employed a terrific local builder, R&R Quality Homes.
"Rob is a local builder from Wangaratta, and we instantly hit it off with him. He could see what our vision was, was open to new ideas, and appreciated that our home would be a unique build."
Sustainability was a big consideration for the build and "Rob was great with this fact and his knowledge was instrumental."
Whilst Brenda confessed that although she didn't know all the technical speak, Rob recommend upgrading the insulation that was specified and also put them in contact with a local window manufacture who specialises in double glazed windows that have an aluminium frame, thermally broke and argon gas between the two pains of glass for further efficiently.
"This proved to be invaluable advice as the windows are just incredible. We have the clerestory windows facing north, which capture all that wonderful winter sun. On a cold sunny day we don’t need any heating turned on as the house retains the heat."
Brenda also noted that they have a water treatment plant on site for their sewage waste as well as a 140,000 litre underground water tank.
"We have not yet gone off the grid with electricity however, we would like to explore the option of a wind turbine on our property."
Given Brenda and her husband had the freedom to design their own home, we wondered what their "must have" requirements were?
There were definitely must haves on top of the sustainability focus. I wanted a great family/kitchen room that had to include a fireplace. We loved the idea of incorporating stone into our house and were lucky to be able to feature it both inside and out. I wanted a formal lounge room…although ours is called the sunken lounge, which is just a separate intimate and cosy room away from the kitchen/family area. I really wanted the television away from the main living room as I do believe it's a distraction. We are not big TV watchers, so having a small room for family movie nights or a place for the kids to watch a footy game, is much more intimate. Other must haves were storage - of course! A mud room and proper laundry (as I’ve always had tiny laundries) with a sink and plenty of bench space and room for the washing machine were a must!"
When it came to the building of the home, we wanted to learn more about how Brenda found the actual the process?
"Our builder was the project manager and he kept me informed every step of the way. I loved the fact that we would ring me just to give me updates, check and double check things and when a problem arose he was great at problem solving. I don't think a day went by that I didn’t speak with Rob, and then once we moved here in September from Melbourne, we would visit the site each day. I was very hands on and given I wasn’t working much when we first moved here, as my daughter was still at Kinder a few days a week, I had the capacity to be available."
Brenda went on to say that they were very fortunate not to have many issues as their builder was highly organised and worked perfectly to schedule. "When you build on land like we did, factoring in expenses like trenching the phone cables 500 metres, getting a concrete water tank can add up fast. It’s essential to have a spreadsheet of all these additional items as well as any changes during the building process as it’s easy to loose track if you're not on top of these things."
"I’m happy to say our house won the 2014 HIA Eastern Victoria custom Built Home in the $700,001 - $1 million category building award."
Brenda confesses that making those final interior decisions were probably the most challenging for her in the build process.
"My husband is quite conservative and I didn’t really want to take too many risks either. However, I wanted there to be plenty of character and some unique features that reflected our personal aesthetic."
Finally, having been involved in the entire process, we asked Brenda if all the designs, planning and building came to life as she had imagined?
"This having been the first time we ever built, I am really proud of what we achieved. I remember the painter incorrectly painted our lounge room! He kindly offered to repaint it the very next day however, I thought his mistake was actually better than my original plan so we left it!"
Are you as intrigued to see the interior of Brenda's award winning home as much as we are? Then stay tuned for an up and coming Step Inside feature.
Image credit: all images were photographed by Brenda and you can view more of her amazing photography on her 13 Acres blog
The House of Home team would like to thank Brenda for her time and, we look forward to sharing a Step Inside feature about her stunning 13 Acres home