Transforming your favourite holiday shack into your downsizing dream home is an opportunity of a lifetime. When the kids have flown the nest and the fast pace of life in a major city has slowed its course, the serenity and relaxation of retirement on the coast beckons. And for Jon and Nicky Vonk, Hamlan helped to answer the call.
Originally hailing from the UK, Jon and Nicky arrived in Australia on a secondment 24 years ago that became a permanent sea change, setting the scene for their new life in a new country. Surrounded by the exciting hustle and bustle of St Kilda, Jon and Nicky raised their two children into fully-fledged adults in their family home, often holidaying at their original condition Anglesea fibro shack on a ¼ acre, complete with fresh coastal air and rustic charm.
This slice of paradise would become the perfect location for Jon and Nicky’s next chapter into retirement.
With the Anglesea home’s aging bones, heating and cooling was a challenge. No insulation meant that the Surf Coast winter turned the home into an arctic chamber, and the wood fire would overcompensate with volcanic heat that could only be balanced by opening the windows.
The fibro shack had outlived its purpose, and a new home was needed to take the mantle.
After some tentative visits to nearby display homes gathering different names and floorplans, Jon and Nicky’s Anglesea neighbour recommended they speak to Hamlan. Known for our local reputation and history in the area following the Ash Wednesday fires over 40 years ago, Hamlan came recommended to Jon and Nicky more than once. They met with new home consultant, Courtney Selway, at the Armstrong Creek display location and quickly realised Hamlan’s standard floorplans ticked many boxes.
But, after working with Courtney and admiring her professionalism, knowledge, and valuable recommendations that would later help shape their dream home, they decided that Hamlan was the builder they were looking for.
The knockdown and rebuild
Work began on respectfully dismantling the fibro shack that held so many memories to pave the way for their new home that would build so many more. The knockdown went ahead seamlessly, and the old foundations gave way to the new in a complication-free process overseen by site supervisor, Richard Martin.
Jon and Nicky chose the Cumberland 242 with a Prism façade as it came with the central courtyard they wanted, and allowed flexibility in the floorplans to make some changes to the layout that would suit the downward fall of the block.
Having never previously built a new house, Jon had significant concerns as he had seen some nightmare scenarios with friends who were building new houses with time and cost blowouts and issues with Council approvals and requirements. Courtney made recommendations on changes to the standard Hamlan design that included adding a split to the floorplan at the top half of the home which necessitated an additional step, but ensured the rest of the house was on one level. Given the fall of the block, both Jon and Nicky agree that this was a really sound recommendation. Courtney also recommended a higher ceiling from the front door through the living and dining area to the second family area. Whilst this did incur additional cost, it is one of the things that their friends comment on when they first see the new house and both Nicky and Jon think this is one of the best changes they made.
As a jewelry designer, Nicky has a real feel for colour palettes and had done lots of research and compiled a lookbook of colours so she had a clear view on what she wanted to achieve particularly with the interiors. She knew exactly what she liked, and more importantly, what she didn’t like. Working with Hamlan’s in-house interior designer, Mia Steinfort, was a phenomenal process for Jon and Nicky.
Jon says, “Mia was a sounding board during the consultation providing some alternative options, and the finished product is that all the colour sections work really well together.”
Homage to the original house
Conscious of the local aesthetics of Anglesea homes, Jon and Nicky knew that a white Hamptons style home wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the street. They wanted a house that would fit the original character and charm that drew them to buy the original shack 18 years prior.
The original house was a pale ocean blue with contrasting orange pillars, so Jon and Nicky opted for their new home’s exterior to be a similar blue, complete with feature orange pots in a nod of respect to the original pillars.
Jon and Nicky felt comfortable and confident with Hamlan throughout their entire knockdown rebuild journey with everything hitting targets successfully and highlighting the importance and value of having trust in your builder.
They felt in control of everything at every stage. Residing in Melbourne throughout the build, they relied heavily on the solid communication, text and call updates, and photos received by their site supervisor, Richard. They also had their neighbour keeping them in the loop with the progress of their build.
Jon and Nicky appreciated that Hamlan were true to their reputation in doing exactly what we say we’ll do, and that there were no hidden surprises along the way. Jon also noted that by building a standard plan and trusting in Hamlan’s advice and expertise, the experience was smooth and seamless.
Jon and Nicky weren’t actively seeking a solar and battery system but have since found it to be an incredible bonus of the home, even sadly noting that there is a Pinterest community of fellow happy Tesla Powerwall owners, which secretly he looks at from time to time.
Jon and Nicky’s aftercare journey has also been positive with some small maintenance matters arising and being addressed in a communicative and supportive manner, reinforcing their trust in Hamlan as their builder of choice.
Jon said that he and Nicky were amazed by the level of service, courtesy and professionalism from the entire team at Hamlan.
“We had heard good reviews and testimonials on Hamlan which swayed us to working with them, but nothing prepared us for how enjoyable the experience would be.”
Their advice to future home builders
Jon said there was only one piece of advice he’d give to future home builders.
“Find out if Hamlan build in your area!”