ANSA Homes’ Sales & Design Advisor, Sean Thornton works with customers to help them realise plans for their dream homes. He utilises his years of experience in the custom home building industry to guide customers along the complex journey.
What does a typical day at ANSA Homes look like?
In short, on any given day I’m working with ANSA customers to help them find a design that meets their needs. The first step is to gain an understanding of what they want to achieve, and how they want to live in a new home. Every project is different, for this reason it is important to understand each client’s individual needs to incorporate into their design. This also allows us to stay on top of current trends in the market.
I meet with clients either face-to-face at one of our display homes, or by phone. Then I utilise our online tools to identify the requirements of their land. These tools allow me to gather information like exact dimensions, positions of trees, predicted contours and access issues. Once we have all the facts, I can create a design to suit the customer’s lifestyle and needs whilst working around the restrictions of their land to present a preliminary design option for the customer to consider. From here there would typically be some back and forth with design changes to really get the home just the way they like it.
What’s your background in the industry and beyond?
Since joining the ANSA team, one of the things that’s stood out for me is enjoying working with a great group of people. ANSA is a very customer-focused organisation, and we want the best outcome for each customer, balancing their requirements and the speed of execution.
I’ve been working in home building for about six years and really love the industry. I just love helping customers create their dream homes.
Before that, I worked in financial planning and sales training, managed a sports store, ran a landscaping business, and even spent a few years a long time ago working as a tennis coach overseas. All these experiences have given me great life experience and an intimate understanding of the importance of open communication with customers.
How does ANSA tailor homes for customers?
We are a custom home builder in a project home market. The homes we build have the flexibility of inclusions and design, but we have the efficiencies of project home building.
By getting to know the customer and asking the right questions we learn what they are trying to achieve. This allows us to guide them to choose the right ANSA design or previous custom design that will best suit them.
We encourage customers to choose a design and then change it to suit their lifestyle requirements. We consider this to be a donor plan in a sense to deconstruct and personalise. I have ample experience from working closely with architects throughout my time in the industry.
I take a humble approach to every job and use my previous learnings to provide creative, cost-effective solutions that overcome the constraints presented from a customer’s property. Collectively, these experiences have given me the ability to design homes that focus on both form and function. As a result, this allows us to provide aesthetically pleasing, functional designs for our customers.
We prefer to get the design right upfront so we’re not changing things down the track. I typically spend more time with customers before we start drawing up plans so that the first set of plans are 95 per cent right. At this time, we can provide a detailed indicative cost.
The next stage is to enter the tender process where we order reports to confirm compliance. We then organise the first formal draft of our customer’s plans before sitting down together to fine tune the outcome. We review aspects like hallway widths, window schedules, façade materials, right through to even furniture placement ensuring every room has the right functionality.
These plans are then typically redrawn with the changes whilst our estimating team formalise a fixed cost tender. We like to get things right upfront so there are no nasty surprises along the way and our customers can swiftly progress through the pre-construction phase. From there our dedicated pre-construction team will assist our customers right through up until construction, but I always keep in touch and love to see the home when it’s completed.
What challenges did you encounter in some recent plans?
We recently finalised the plans to build a home in Clovelly. The customer chose our Killara design with a cathedral ceiling in the rear living room right through to the back of the alfresco area. For the outdoor living area, they wanted to continue the cathedral ceiling without having any pillars or exposed rafters to support it.
Our clever team was able to modify the design to incorporate a steel beam that protrudes into the house which is concealed in a walk-in-robe. This allowed us to create an amazing architectural feature to the home whilst having the comfort that it is structurally sound and can be constructed at an affordable cost.
How have you adapted your designs to fit established suburbs?
We have loads of experience building knock down rebuild projects in established suburbs. We recognise that blocks in established suburbs are not all the same, so we’ve recently introduced additional plans for the popular Killara and Seabrook to meet this need.
I’ve got a good understanding of compliance in this space which is definitely not straightforward. Every block is different, every customer is unique, and we strive to find the best solution to the myriad of challenges that come with building a new home.
We have good communication with our certifiers who can help us answer those tricky questions. For example, understanding the rulings on how close we can build to a tree on a neighbour’s property. Most people would think that a tree on an adjacent block will not affect the building of your new home, but there are rules about how close you can come and how deep excavation can be from a certain distance, so we need to adapt customers’ plans accordingly. Most of the time you wouldn’t recognise a customer’s plans in comparison to our standard designs because each situation is different, plans are modified to suit. We’re building a home in West Pymble at the moment where our standard plans were significantly modified to preserve a Cherry Blossom tree. The customer wanted to keep the tree in place as it is a beautiful tree, so we designed the plans around the tree keeping the required distance away to preserve it. Now it has become a key focal point from the design and will create a private tranquil retreat from the master bedroom.
What do you love about your job?
A knock down rebuild project is like a tricky jigsaw puzzle. You’re given restrictions on what you can do, you’re given lines that you can’t play outside of, and then mix in the needs and living requirements for our customers. It’s like working with pieces that don’t match up with other pieces, and you have to make sense of it all and put it all together.
For me, it’s the satisfaction of working through that puzzle to produce an outcome that ticks all the boxes for our customers, whilst remaining compliant with the regulations. Plus, it needs to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Build your new home with certainty
ANSA Homes has a commitment of certainty in every single aspect of the design and process of building your home. Home design is just one step along the journey but it’s a very crucial part of the process.