Creating bespoke custom homes.

Author: Amy Thomas

Brightening Up Your Life

“We need natural daylight to function – just as we need darkness to go to sleep.”

– George Ezra
Natural Light Flooding the Kitchen in the recently completed project
Natural light flooding the kitchen in this recently completed project in Beecroft.

When it comes to designing your new home, one of the most important features that often gets overlooked is the lighting. Not only does it improve the look and feel of you home, studies have shown that lighting is a big factor in affecting your mood and health. With the best source of light being natural sunlight, it is essential that you understand the positioning of your house and know where the light will be hitting during each part of the day. By carefully choosing where to place your rooms and windows it will create the perfect atmosphere within your house all year round.

For tips on how to create light within in your home click here

The 6 Bathroom Trends for 2020 from our friends at Reece

The Avora 34 Main Bathroom
The Avora 34 Main Bathroom

Quality and getting expert advice is so important when building your dream home. That is why we work with Reece on all of our bathroom & kitchen fittings – they are the experts! They have recently shared their thoughts on The 6 Bathroom Trends for 2020, take a look at it here.

Stop by our new Design STUDIO at 311 Willoughby Rd, Naremburn to start designing your new home and see the gorgeous Reece products in person.

To build or to renovate… THAT is the question!

We are often told by clients they are trying to decide whether to KDR or renovate, and would you believe when we tell them to ‘KDR no question’, they don’t always believe us?!

One of our current clients has done both and we asked her to share her insight. Follow her build journey @the.mama.daze


And it’s a big one indeed… Having done both a major renovation and now a complete knockdown rebuild, we have genuinely experienced and I’m often asked to share our learnings. 

When we bought our first house, it was with the vision to one day ‘renovate and extend’ (complete with a white picket fence!). I think we grew up assuming that to build would be ‘too expensive’ and that the best way to get ahead was to renovate including DIY where you can, and real estate always emphasises the ‘potential’ to renovate. We went both out (ground floor extension) AND up (first floor addition) so it was pretty extensive! 

The issue though is that you have to work with the original footprint and this means either limitations or significant cost to modify and use what you have.  THEN there are the things that end up costing way more than expected… like when our ‘simple bathroom renovation’ uncovered rotted wall frames that didn’t even connect with the floor… or asbestos!

So while we did end up with a lovely home, it still lacked certain features and missed more than we could achieve with a renovation… so within months of it being finished… we sold!

The concept of knockdown rebuild appealed to us as we could work essentially from a blank sheet of paper and apply all of our learnings from renovating. From living through renovations and with a growing family, we built a good understanding of what worked for OUR family. How we use a space and how we like to live as well as how to avoid wasted floor space and dysfunctional areas.

Having met with builders ranging from project homes to custom builders and architects, we found the perfect mix in Icon Homes. We’re now building our complete dream home – including everything we loved from our previous renovation and everything we still didn’t have! – for LESS per square metre. We’ll have a higher quality finish and it’ll all be done before we move in.

We chose Icon Homes for a number of reasons including their flexibility to create custom designs at no extra cost to suit your lifestyle needs and block of land (but that’s a separate blog topic in itself!).

But people always love to share horror stories though don’t they (it’s a bit like childbirth!)… and we were told that we needed to budget a HUGE amount for hidden upgrade costs and for when things go wrong. THIS was one of things that resonated with us most with Icon Homes: ‘our standard is their upgrade’. They know what their clients want with key features like 40mm Caesarstone benches, extended height ceilings, ducted air conditioning & quality finishes, so it’s all there in the Onyx package. There’s no lure of a base price which is lightyears away from the stunning display home you’ve just walked through, to leave you feeling naive and overwhelmed.

This meant that our initial site estimate quote was almost identical to our full Tender (the formal building quote for your contract) even with engineering requirements and our changes that we asked for upfront (it is a custom build, after all!). As a fixed price build, we also avoided all of the risk of the unknown with renovations and things that you can’t see behind walls or underneath floors (or walls that don’t join with the floor!).

But beyond the glossy pictures and over-flowing #inspo collections (we’ve all got them!), it’s also about our investment.  And in return, we’ll have an entirely brand new house: rather than only new finishes within old walls and on old foundations and plumbing. A house is about more than just a home, it still needs to be an asset and a financial investment for your family.


So follow our build journey and ask me your questions, are you team #renovate or team #build?




Can you pick the top Bathroom Trends for 2020?

The Avora 34 Bathroom
Pick a statement piece and let it shine – this bath does just that!

They say it is important to wake up positive in order to start your day off right. With the bathroom being on of the first rooms you go to in the morning, it only makes sense that it should be designed beautifully.

Bathrooms are no longer just a place for showering and brushing your teeth. Each year we are seeing them become bigger and more of a calming living space within your home. Take a look at some of our past work here for some inspiration. 

Take a look here to see what the experts have picked as the 2020 bathroom trends.



The Avora 34 shows design and energy efficiency needn’t be mutually exclusive.

‘The Avora 34 display home and Bristile solar roofing solution prove that sophisticated design and energy efficiency needn’t be mutually exclusive’

We are proud of The Avora 34 for many reasons, the fact that it is the first net zero display home in NSW is a big one but that we have been able to deliver an energy efficient home that is as beautiful as this, well that’s the real winner.
Working on this project with the team at Bristile has been a very exciting one – the technology and their solar roofing solution are second to none. Bristile’s solar roofing solution is a key feature of the sleek new Avora 34 and the home has been constructed with a flat roof, allowing for the discreet installation of the solar panels so they are invisible from the street.
“The beautiful interiors are a testament to Icon Homes’ knowledge of current design trends,” says Taylor. “Their passion for detail and craftsmanship is evident in the use of beautiful stone on the façade, the floating timber staircase, the use of vertical cladding as a feature throughout the home and the stunning timber ceiling in the upstairs living room.”All this has been achieved without jeopardising Avora 34’s net zero rating. Taylor adds: “Icon Homes should be very proud of this home. It has really set the benchmark for display homes across Sydney.”

Your dream home needs to be future proofed and sustainability is key!

The homes we built decades ago are not the same as the homes we want to live in the decades ahead – your dream home needs to be future proofed, and sustainability is much more than just a buzz word. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has a vision for healthier, resilient, and positive places for people to live. The GBCA are currently developing a Standard for future homes that defines the performance and features of quality new homes in Australia, and at Icon Homes we are ahead of the game on this one with NSW first Net Zero Display Home located in Warriewood on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.






Their vision for Future Homes is-

  1. Cost effective: A well designed and constructed home can reduce power bills, water bills, and maintenance costs. Energy efficient homes with solar panels can save households $900 per year.
  2. Healthy: Australians spend 90% of their time indoors! Fresh air, comfortable temperatures, low-toxic materials and abundant daylight are all factors proven to improve the health and wellbeing of residents.
  3. Future Ready The homes we build today will be part of our cities and communities for at least the next fifty years. We need to build homes to accommodate our changing needs, and adapt to our changing climate. By 5050 there will be double the number of older people and 44% more children!
  4. Connected: Access to nature, community services, transport and digital infrastructure are essential to our health and productivity. According to research, access to a park can reduce stress, increase physical activity and even extend people’s life spans.
  5. Verified: Homebuyers will want sustainability information on the home they are buying. On-site verification such as physical inspections, air-pressure testing or thermal imaging are the most reliable way to check the quality and performance of a future home. This trend demonstrated by a 10% price premium recorded in the ACT for 7* NaTHERS rated homes 2018.

Find out more about NSW’s first Net Zero Display Home,  The Avora 34 at Warriewood. Currently open for private inspection by appointment.

Choosing your colours can seem like an overwhelming task

When building a new house, choosing colours and materials can be a big and daunting task. Not only do you have to decide on the full internal colour scheme, but you must also think about what your house will look like on the outside. Everyone wants their house to be the best looking one in the street, but you don’t want it to stand out for all the wrong reasons. With most people only seeing the exterior of your new home it is important to put just as much effort in choosing the colours for your bricks as you do your bedroom.

Here are 5 tips that will make your decision easier


We have some very exciting news to announce on this very topic soon – stay tuned!!! Picking all your choices for your new Icon Home is about to get a lot easier.

Making the most of a small block of land.

Sometimes size does matter, especially when it comes to building your dream home! With the growing population, available blocks of land are becoming increasingly smaller, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on space.

By using some of these simple design techniques, you can have enough space for the whole family without blowing out your budget or settling for somewhere second best.

The HIA’s top tips are:

  • Opt for Open Plan
  • Get Creative with Storage
  • Utilise Outdoors
  • Build Up
  • Create the Feeling of Spaciousness

You can read more about these here.

Want to know what can fit on your block? Get in touch with our team today, for a limited time only they will provide a siting of one of our designs on your block for free.

Pantone’s Colour of the Year announced!

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, but our friends at Pantone have still released their Colour of the year. For the past 20 years colour experts Pantone, have selected a single colour to represent the year ahead. This year they have chosen ‘Classic Blue’ to influence the design industry all over the world from fashion to graphic design, product packaging and interior design.

Pantone have described Classic Blue as:

“Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

With all the uncertainty that has already come in 2020, Classic Blue may be what we all need to help keep some balance in our lives.

Read more about it here.

It is definitely uncertain times – but at the moment the market is still moving!

At the moment, taking one day at a time is about all you can do, the govt. advice is constantly changing and the economic market follows. That said, there are still plenty of knock down rebuild opportunities on the market – and they are selling!! The clearance rate for this weekends auctions sat at 65% – 4% higher that the same time last year.

Each fortnight our team sends out their must sees KDR opportunities and on Friday one of our showcased properties was 54 Woodbine St, North Balgowlah, check out how The Bellevue 32 looks on it here.

Want to be added to the list to received this every fortnight? Get in touch today.

Now more than ever, we need to be talking about sustainability.

Sustainability is possibly going to be the buzz word of 2020. Now more than ever (and rightly so), people are looking for how to minimise their impact and how both small and big changes can have a huge impact.

This has been on our mind for a while, and our new display home in Warriewood, The Avora 34, was designed with this in mind. Our friends at Better Building Daily have summed it up perfectly;

‘Building sustainably isn’t just about being eco-friendly. It’s about innovation. It’s about longevity. It’s about efficiency.’

To read their article in full click here.

Confused about how Construction Loans work? Steve Menzies from Citywide makes it simple for us.

We often get asked about the process for financing your new build, and whilst we can explain the basics from our end it’s always best to get help from the experts. There is no one we would recommend speaking to more than Steve Menzies from Citywide, a Northern Beaches local like us, Steve explains everything so you understand what is happening but is also the unsurpassed in getting you the best deal around.

So, thanks to Steve for putting this together for us – and for any more info or help get in touch with Steve at steve.m@citywidelpi.com.au

Construction Loans Simplified

A construction loan is basically the same as a normal loan with a few slight differences. Firstly, the loan starts at a zero balance and is drawn down in stages as the build progresses. These stages are set out in the “fixed price building contract” from Icon Homes (or any licensed builder)

Example:  Total build cost is $800k

  • Stage 1. Concrete slab $160k (20%)
  • Stage 2. Framework $160k (20%)
  • Stage 3. Brickwork $200k (25%)
  • until the full build cost of $800k is drawn down.

These stages and amounts in the “fixed price building contract” need to be ticked off by the bank before the construction loan is approved. This is an added layer of protection for the customer as the bank will know what each stage of the build should cost and no money is given to the builder until the correct work is completed.


During the “construction phase” your payments are “Interest Only” on the amount of funds drawn down.

Using the example above :

  • Stage 1. $160k is drawn down for excavation & concrete slab. You begin to pay “Interest Only” on the $160k
  • Stage 2. $160k is drawn down for Framework. You now pay “Interest Only” on the $160k +$160k so a total of $320k
  • Stage 3. ……..etc.
  • Until the Final Stage where you will be paying “Interest Only” on the total funds drawn down of $800k.

When the build is complete or your “Interest Only” period finishes (say one year) your payments revert to Principle & Interest just like a normal home loan – that simple!


Other key features:

  • Inspection on first and last payment-To give you a peace of mind to ensure that the works completed are in line with the payment schedule prior to paying the builder. 
  • Loan to Value Ratio – Normal LVR’s of 80% are available with our panel of funders.
  • Interest Only During Construction– Allowing you to make a minimum repayment to increase cashflow during construction
  • No Extra Interest Rate Loading on Construction– We have banks that will not charge you extra on the interest rate for a construction loan. So you get the same cheap rate as a normal home loan!
  • Order Free* Upfront Valuations– Access to a panel of lenders that will allow you to order a free upfront valuation prior to submitting an application.
  • Quick Approvals– Access to a panel of lenders that can approve your application within the same time frames as residential applications
  • Building an Investment Property – If the finished property is an investment property you can use the projected rental income for servicing the loan.
  • Build up to 3 on 1 title– Majority of lenders will consider this as commercial development, which means higher fees, rates and shorter loan terms. We can consider this under residential rates, fees and loan terms.
  • Offset Account – When the build is complete you can add an offset account to reduce your interest repayments even more.