Susan McDermott – Sales & Marketing General Manager, Long Island Homes
What attracted you to the industry (and when)?
I worked in the media industry for more than 20 years and wanted a change. I had always been interested in new homes and real estate. One day I was flicking through my local newspaper and saw an ad for a marketing manager for a building company… that was 12 years ago.
What do you love most about the industry?
It’s an exciting industry and you never have time to be bored. If you are, it means you aren’t doing your job properly.
What do you consider your proudest moment or greatest achievement in the industry?
The growth of Long Island Homes in my seven years here.
I have none. Regrets are a waste of energy.
Block sizes becoming smaller and smaller.
Making it more difficult to become a registered builder, deterring many backyard builders.
If you had the power, how would you improve the building process?
I would like to see more registered trades in Victoria. We have only 4000 registered trades in Victoria. NSW has 40,000 and Queensland 44,000. This affects build quality and for those of us who are very particular when selecting trades, it negatively affects our time frames.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about building?
They don’t understand the magnitude of the process to get to site, or the issues that can occur once you go to site – mostly to do with the land they purchased.
If building tomorrow, what feature would you most like incorporated in your home?
Energy-saving materials, to save me money long term. Most people want to build smart houses, however, energy-saving materials like double glazing and upgrading the insulation add costs to the build and break the budget.
What tips would you give for future-proofing?
Pay the extra money today for higher energy-rating materials and you will reap the rewards long term on the cost of all services, such as electricity, gas, heating and air-conditioning.
What do you think building a home will be like in 2030?
If land continues to increase in price at the rate is now, building a new home will only be for the very wealthy. I make mention of land because it dictates the size and style of home to both land purchasers and builders. In many ways, Long Island Homes are fast becoming experts in the affordable housing market. Our main business was second and third home buyers. We noticed a trend of 16m x 32m lots being cut into two blocks and decided to design homes to suit. We now have single and double-storey designs to suit block widths of 8, 9 and 10m-wide lots. It’s amazing how liveable these homes are. They offer three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a courtyard and open-plan kitchen, meals and living. Perfect for first-home buyers, investment and downsizers. There has been talk in the media about regulating backyard space to 25 per cent of a block. I hope this is not another ‘knee jerk’ reaction and they have consulted with building professionals, such as the Master Builders Association Victoria. This decision could be more detrimental than positive unless thought out very carefully. You can imagine a person buying a 512sq m block, which is a premium lot size these days. If you require 25 per cent for a backyard and regulated front and side setbacks, that’s almost 50 per cent of your block on which you are unable to build your home. Not everyone wants a double-storey home, yet regulations like this will drive industry trends.