September 4, 2022

A few months after I started this website, I got an email asking me why I chose Henley over other builders. At the time I emailed a response but now I will share my thoughts in an honest answer. Henley was never my first choice when I was searching for a builder to create a new dream home. If I’m honest, they were at least forth on the list. 

As I was getting to the pointy end in my search for a builder, my shortlist looked like this: 

  1. Boutique
  2. SJD
  3. Carlisle
  4. Henley
  5. Bentley

During my search for a home and builder, I spent a lot of time at the Minta Estate in the Melbourne suburb of Berwick. There were literally dozens of homes I visited in that estate, as well as others in nearby towns such as Clyde, or Cranbourne. 

Boutique Homes were my clear first choice.

While there were many homes I liked, the homes built by Boutique Homes were a class above. At least to me. 

After spending some time going over my options with them it became clear that my budget would be blown out of the water if I went with them. As they’re rep said, “We never claim to be the cheapest builder”. I appreciated his honesty, but I had to look elsewhere. 

The sticker price for the Boutique Home I liked was $290K, slightly higher than most I’d shortlisted, remembering that there are significant extra costs over the sticker price. It took some time for the KDR team at Boutique to contact me but their staff were great. 

Before I go any further, I’ll give you a bit of background to my personal situation… I am an avid traveler and I am also casually employed. Being a casual means, it can be tricky to get a loan, particularly if you regularly take off overseas and have resultant gaps in your employment history. 

As the pandemic struck, the Australian government stopped us Aussies from leaving the country. I applied for a permit to leave the country on several occasions, but was denied every time.  

There was a silver lining to all this, as I was able to have years of continuous employment it was easy to get a home loan. The only problem was that I was aching to go overseas again. It was though this lens that I was in a hurry to sign on the dotted line, get the finance done and go. Onward… 

Bank finance
Being trapped in Australia during the pandemic had it's positive outcomes, for some of us.

SJD homes have fantastic reviews from happy customers and it was reading these reviews along with visiting their display homes which convinced me to go with this company. From what I could see, a quality build was almost assured. 

Unfortunately, my experience was not a good one. When I was able to get hold of them, I soon had a quote and a layout of the home I’d chosen on my block.  

We were emailing back and forward discussing some council requirements (Front & rear setbacks) and their responses would often take days, up to 5 days. As much as I wanted to build with SJD, the company rep I dealt with, *N, just didn’t seem interested, so I sadly crossed them off my list. 

Carlisle was great. The Portland 25 on display was bright and airy, I could even upgrade to the next size up and be within my budget. This one fell over because I wanted to make a few changes to the floor plan. Carlisle told me that the changes I wanted were not possible. As I felt that I wouldn’t be happy without the changes I wanted, Carlisle was also kicked to the kerb. 

*JP at Bentley was a great guy to be dealing with. Really friendly, nothing seemed to be too much hassle for him. Bentley, SJD, and Henley had all given me quotes to build at around the same point in time, along with drawings of their proposed floorplans on my block. 

Actual photo of the earthworks on my site.

It was SJD who discovered I had issues with front and/or rear setbacks on my 670Sqm block. In a nutshell, the homes I had chosen were too long to fit on my block according to the Victorian building regulations. I have provided a copy of those regulations in the resource’s menu, or just click here. 

As I was working through this with SJD (slowly) I’d got a quote in from Bentley which was on the high side of my budget. This despite the home I’d chosen from that company being far from my favorite. So, the high quote, combined with the setback requirements and not being a favorite home caused me to cut Bentley loose. 

While all this was going on I was in regular contact with Henley’s sales rep, *A. Having passed on all the others I told *A about the setback issues and we decided that the simplest solution to my setback issues was to downsize my home my favorite Henley home, the Panama 28, to my second favorite, the Carmelle 25. 

I took a few days to finalize my decision and, in that time, I visited the Minta, and other Henley displays. There were some concerns that Henley did not have the same fantastic reviews as companies such as Boutique or SJD but there was one crucial thing that got them over the line. 

Directly across from my place, my neighbor’s built a 2 story Henley home during the pandemic. Each day I would arrive home and was impressed not only with the amount of work which was completed, but also that they were at work every day. In other words, Henley were not using the various Victorian lockdowns as an excuse not to be onsite. 

A number of my friends and family have built in the past, most expressed frustration at the slow progress of their build. On this front at least, I was confident that Henley would deliver. 

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