Rick McKay – Development & Procurement Manager, Arden Homes

What attracted you to the industry (and when)?
I’ve always been interested in residential property, construction and numbers. After leaving high school and having already accepted a university placement to study Commerce/Accounting, a contact of mine involved in medium-density construction set me up with a job interview for a cadet estimator position. I literally had no idea what an estimator was and I had a day to figure it out. Thankfully, I aced the interview and started work the very next day. A few weeks in, I was in love with the role and I dropped my university placement. Since then I’ve set out to learn all that I can about estimating, procurement, construction costing and the residential construction industry and market as a whole, and have found my ideal role here at Arden Homes.

What do you love most about the industry?
I love the diversity and the very fast pace of the industry. Something is always changing and it’s a challenge to continue learning new methods and to keep up with innovation.

What do you consider your greatest challenge (in the industry)?
Keeping the cost under control. I love providing clients with a customised, beautifully finished, highly specified home with a great client experience, at a rate comparable to that of a volume builder. But this comes with a major challenge of keeping costs under control.

Biggest regret?
In a way I regret becoming career focused early in life and missing out on the carefree lifestyle with travel and entertainment in my 20s. However, I am extremely happy with how my career has progressed and how I’ve been able to contribute. I can travel and be carefree when I’m old.

Worst trend?
Ballot land sales. Developers are increasingly only releasing a small number of lots at a time and selling them by ballot, delaying the release of land and creating a fear of missing out. We have a housing shortage in Melbourne. The construction industry accounts for a major portion of the economy and we need land to build on.

Best change?
Those who are looking to build a new home are increasingly aware of and concerned about energy efficiency and the cost of running their new home. I believe this increase in awareness is a terrific change and is resulting in many people looking to builders who can incorporate energy efficiency into their designs and into their inclusions, such as the use of Hebel cladding and solar power systems with Tesla batteries that we are including as standard at Arden Homes.

If you could, how would you improve the planning process?
Release more land and fund councils to employ more planners to speed up the turnaround times for planning permits, which is relevant to the increase in knockdown-rebuild projects.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about building?
‘All builders are the same’. The downside of thinking that way is that buyers may make their decision purely based on price and fail to consider other critical aspects, such as quality of construction, fixtures and fittings, a well-considered design and the service experience. Buyers should consider the value being offered.

If building tomorrow, what feature would you most like incorporated in your home?
I just built and moved in to my dream (for now!) home and I made sure I focused on incorporating energy efficiency, light and open space. Large, light-filled open-plan living, insulation in the walls and ceiling, six star-rated hot water system, LED lighting and a solar power system with Tesla battery storage.

What tips would you give for future-proofing a home?
Ensure you focus on energy efficiency, which is becoming more and more important as we continue to learn more about global warming, and as the cost of electricity continues to rise. I’d also suggest including plenty of data cabling and smart wiring. It’s amazing how many devices around the home are connected to the internet and I’m sure this will only increase.

What do you think building a home will be like in 2030?
I’m looking forward to finding out. The year 2030 is only 13 years away, but I’m sure we’ll be amazed at the advances in construction methods, cost efficiencies and new eco-friendly materials and appliances that will be available.

Watch this space!

We'll be revealing the details of our next competition soon