Custom Built Homes, and More

Steadman Building Group

After a decades long career in the Perth building industry, David Steadman recognised a gap in the market for custom built, luxury housing. In response he launched Signature Custom Homes – and introduced a bold new business model for supplying his individualised, high end product.

Now, after 15 years of success in the luxury market, the team is diversifying with two exciting new divisions: Lauren Steadman Homes and Steadman Homes.

When Mr Steadman started the family owned and operated business in 2000, he knew that custom built homes were a rarity in the Western Australian market. “It is a very, very small percentage of people who build custom homes,” he explains. “Probably only three to five per cent of the market is what we call true custom design.” While many homes claim the label, most do not actually fit the definition. “A lot of project builders advertise custom design but it is not really custom design; they are taking a template and tweaking it. That is not true custom design.”

True custom design means that “every single thing in the house is bespoke,” Mr Steadman explains. “There is no limit to choice. There is no standardisation. Everything is custom.” This is in stark contrast to project housing, he adds, which supplies a standardised package for a fixed price. Project housing’s pre-made designs can be altered to suit a client’s need, but these alterations can only go so far, while custom design “starts with a blank sheet of paper.”

By its nature, project housing is far simpler and straightforward than custom design. “You are starting with a template,” Mr Steadman points out. “You can’t just have anything you want.” Clients know exactly what they are getting and how much it will cost; there is no guesswork involved, no agonising over the unknowns. The same design has been used many times before, and the slight moderations that clients are allowed will alter that basic design very little.

“With custom design that is not the case,” Mr Steadman points out. “You basically provide a wish list to the designer and then you leave it up to them to create the home. You don’t know what that is going to cost until it is drawn, because it is impossible to price a blank sheet of paper.” Not surprisingly, these costs can easily climb out of control – especially if the architect has a higher regard for the project’s ‘wow’ factor than for the target budget. “The problem with that model is that it is very, very rare for the architect to get the budget right.”

Signature Custom Homes uses a more client-friendly business model. “Instead of the client going to the architect, they come to us and we manage the design and build it for them as a package,” he explains. “This is our major point of difference.” Rather than employing architects in-house, Signature Custom Homes contracts the work out, ensuring that the right architect is chosen for the right job and that the designs stay fresh and relevant.

Most importantly, the team is able to maintain careful control over the cost, saving clients countless headaches. “We can manage the budget. As we are going through the design we can identify things that we think might push the budget a bit and we can make you aware of that and then give you choices.” This is where the team’s expertise and experience is invaluable, Mr. Steadman insists, “Because the architect really doesn’t know how much it is going to cost until they put it out to market to test it.”

Signature Custom Homes’ houses start at $2 million and go up from there, with some worth a whopping $15 million. “The luxury home is the reward to the family for all the years of hard work doing whatever they have done to create their wealth,” Mr Steadman points out. “So you have got to get it right.” Many clients plan to spend the rest of their lives in these dream homes, so the design must be flexible enough to meet a family’s needs throughout multiple life stages. As a result, the team focuses on functionality and practicality as much as aesthetics to ensure a lifetime of satisfaction.

New divisions

After securing a place in WA’s luxury homes market, the Steadman family through its parent company Steadman Building Group is ready to apply its winning strategy to entry-level and mid-level housing. “It [the luxury homes market] is a very different market to what it was 14 years ago,” Mr Steadman explains. “There are a lot more people competing in that space now and the market is smaller.” While business is still healthy for Signature Custom Homes, diversifying beyond a saturated, shrinking market makes good business sense.

The expansion was also motivated by clients who wanted to work with the Signature Custom Homes team but who didn’t want to take on the costs or complications of a custom designed home. “We found that a lot of people were coming to [view our luxury] homes and were getting inspired, getting motivated – and then building a house with another project builder,” Mr Steadman recalls. “We thought, ‘that is crazy. We should provide a product for those people.’ That is why we are diversifying and introducing the new brand.”

Two new divisions will deliver the more affordable project housing. Lauren Steadman Homes focuses on single storey project housing from $160,000 to $300,000 in value, while Steadman Homes supplies two storey project housing valued from $450,000 up to $1 million. While both divisions deliver a lower cost, more standardised product than Signature Custom Homes does, the attention to detail and quality will stay the same. “We are going to maintain that boutique approach with all three brands,” Mr Steadman insists.

Mr Steadman believes that fourteen years of experience creating award winning luxury homes makes the team uniquely suited to the entry level market. “There is an opportunity in the entry level, single storey market because the design of the homes are lacking,” he explains. “We can apply all of our design expertise to create a home that is better designed. And, the homes will be built by the same team that builds the luxury brand. So people will have a better experience, a better design, and a better quality build for the exact same price as going somewhere else.”

The team will release its complete range of products and pricing as early as August; display homes are already going up, with the first Lauren Steadman display home set to open in September. Even though the new divisions are still undergoing development, Steadman Homes is already building houses and Lauren Steadman Homes has already sold several houses through word of mouth. Potential buyers may also be interested in viewing a luxury client home that will be on temporary display next month in Applecross. The team is also in the process of building an eye catching, 1000 square metre home in Peppermint Grove, which will be open for the public to view later in the year. Information regarding display homes is available on the company website and on its Facebook page.

Signature Custom Homes’ diversification will ensure that the team is able to meet the needs of every client, regardless of price range. It will also help to assure the future of the company for the next generation of Steadmans. “Spending all this time building this brand and then walking away from it just wasn’t an option,” Mr Steadman explains. He and his wife have been at the helm for years and are ready to see their children take the lead soon. Both children already work for the family company (daughter Lauren is the company’s CFO and the brains behind Lauren Steadman Homes designs) and they are both well prepared to take the business to the next level. “My succession plan is to pass the business on to my children,” Mr Steadman explains. “So we need to achieve growth. We are not chasing the market down with this move; this is a long term strategy.”

With a 15 year track record of success, the Signature Custom Homes brand is ready to expand – and provide even more clients with the dedicated service and quality homes that they have come to expect from the Steadman family.

For more information about Steadman Building Group, please visit http://signaturehomes.com.au.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

December 16, 2017, 12:44 AM AEDT

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