Find­ing suc­cess against the odds

This builder went where oth­ers feared to tread to cre­ate the home of his dreams, writes

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - ADVICE -

When this wa­ter­view block was listed for sale, there wasn’t a lot of in­ter­est. Sit­ting on a cliff, it was the site of an aban­doned project which put other buy­ers off.

But for young builder Neil Hip­well, who dreamt of own­ing a home near the wa­ter, the site at Lilli Pilli in Syd­ney’s south was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity. Neil and his wife Krys­tal would soon have a baby on the way and planned to make a home for their fu­ture fam­ily.

To re­duce costs, Neil de­cided to do as much work on­site as he could. A car­pen­ter by trade and the owner of build­ing com­pany, Fu­ture­flip, Neil also de­signed the house.

The site’s for­mer owner had DA ap­proval for a house so Neil de­cided to re­con­fig­ure that de­sign but keep the ap­proved roofline, as chang­ing the roof could af­fect the neigh­bours.

He drew up a de­sign that spans three storeys and started build­ing within six months.

“I got in there and pretty much did every­thing my­self,” he says. “I did the ex­ca­va­tion, I did all the brick­lay­ing my­self, all the con­crete form­work and shell. It ended up be­ing a pretty cost­ef­fec­tive op­tion for me be­cause I was able to do every­thing my­self with my ap­pren­tices.”

Dig­ging deep

The pre­vi­ous owner had started a knock­down/ re­build project but stopped af­ter some ex­ca­va­tion work. As Neil ex­pected, once he got on­site, it was far from an easy build.

“It was a big cliff face and it’s about a 10m drop from the back­yard to the front,” Neil says.

“The en­tire two lower lev­els of the house were cut into the rock.

“Be­cause we built on a cliff face, half the home is un­der­ground on one side and then the north­ern side is all out of the ground.”

The ex­ca­va­tion work and drainage needed at the slop­ing site were ex­ten­sive, which cre­ated all

Sun­light streams into the up­per level, which of­fers ex­cel­lent views of the leafy sub­urb.

The home was built on a cliff and en­com­passes three lev­els.

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