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How Wayne Ritchie turned two blocks into four homes


Wayne Ritchie still pinches himself when he thinks about building four homes in as many years. The father of two, who has just completed his second dual occupancy development with Metricon, says when he and his wife, Anna, started looking for their dream family home, they never imagined they’d end up building it. “When we bought this property it was an old brick home that was falling apart,” Wayne says. “So to see it in the state that it is now is pretty amazing.”

Wayne’s interest in property development was born in 2014 when he began searching for a patch of dirt to call his own. But rising property prices and limited land availability in Melbourne’s established south eastern suburbs saw him struggling to find something that would fit not only his family’s lifestyle, but their budget, too.

“Initially I wanted to build a big house on a single dwelling in Bentleigh,” Wayne says. “But we couldn’t find anything that was ticking all the boxes. I’d seen a few pictures of duplex homes on the Metricon website and that’s when we started thinking about building a DualOcc instead.”

Divide and conquer

One of the reasons building a DualOcc appealed to him was that it enabled them to build in the area they wanted to live in, without overcapitalising on the build costs or having to sink more money into renovating an old home. By subdividing the land and building two homes instead of one, they were able to maximise the value of their block and end up with not one, but two beautiful homes at the end of it. “It all comes down to manufacturing equity,” Wayne says. “Once they’ve subdivided, I’ve got two dwellings there so the return is almost the same in terms of capital growth and depreciation benefits, times two.”

Putting on a facade

Wayne’s DualOcc journey began in 2014 when he built his first development in Bentleigh, in Victoria's south east. The idea, he says, was to live in one and rent out the other. Then, when an opportunity presented itself to invest in a second project in Bentleigh East, it was one he couldn't pass up.

“This time around it was really familiar,” he says. “We had already been through the process so we knew the right people to talk to and were very familiar with the floorplan and layout. We chose the Grange because we liked the design and the layout, and the Aspire façade because we wanted something a little more contemporary than you usually see in this area."

And the contemporary feel continues inside the home, where a light and bright colour scheme instils a sense of openness and airiness that belies the long and narrow design. To accommodate an easement running the length of one side, the Grange’s floorplan was tailored to maximise the developable area on their 603 square metre block without compromising the interior feel or flow of the homes.

From the moment you step inside the front door, there is a sense of openness and airiness. A full-length window in the study nook adjacent to the entry allows plenty of light to flood into the long corridor, where hanging artworks pop against the soft grey walls.

Here, engineered timber floors slink their way along the hallway, off which the guest bathroom, master bedroom and a separate powder room are located, and flow seamlessly through to roomy, sun-drenched living areas framed by ceiling-to-floor windows and sliding doors that open onto a spacious patio. A walk-in pantry sits off the galley-style kitchen, where son, Christian, and daughter, Sienna, often pull up a stool to eat breakfast or do their homework.

Upstairs, a second bathroom with separate toilet, three decent-sized bedrooms and an additional living area complete the second storey, giving the kids extra space to play, watch television or hang out away from adults when mum and dad are entertaining downstairs.

Strong foundations

This might be an investment property for the Ritchies, but Wayne says the same level of care and attention to detail went in to bringing it to life. “When we built our first DualOcc, I documented all the steps,” Wayne says. “This helped us fast-track the process because we were able to pre-empt stuff with Metricon. The first time around we had some issues with Glen Eira council, who delayed the process for about three months over a silly notation. The second time around it was very smooth because the town planner was very knowledgeable. We also knew the right people to talk to so we engaged a good town planning company from the beginning.”

Wayne says having a good site supervisor also helped the process seem a lot less daunting. “He was hands on, never late for meetings and was able to deliver," Wayne says. "I liked that because it helped us overcome issues as they popped up. I was also on site every two to three weeks to go through the build. From base to frame, through to the end of construction – we would go through each area and make sure it was all ticked off.”

Keeping it simple

While Wayne enjoyed the technical side of building, he says the best part of the process was spending a day in Studio M, where he and Anna got to choose everything from paint colours and carpets to bricks, tiles, timber and even tapware. “That was definitely the most exciting part,” he says. “The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful and able to give you options, especially with bench tops and cabinetry and all of those things. We told them our vision and they were able to mix and match everything to get a good outcome. It’s one thing seeing it in the studio, but then to see how it all comes together in the finished product is another thing entirely.”

From the fun stuff like colour selections in Studio M, to the more frustrating aspects of the build - like being held up by council - Wayne says having a supportive partner who understands the building process really helps. "Being able to bounce off ideas off each other and make those important decisions together takes some of the pressure off, especially during challenging times."

And while the process definitely has its ups and downs, Wayne says the thrill of building a home makes it all worthwhile. “From inception through to completion, each step and each challenge is really invigorating,” Wayne says. “The destination is one thing but building a home is about the whole journey and seeing it through, in the end, is so fulfilling.”

Wayne's top tips for first-time DualOcc builders

  • Document the process. This will make it easier if you want to undertake DualOcc developments in the future.
  • Regular contact with your site supervisor during construction is very important. Get in touch every two to three weeks at a minimum to see how things are travelling.
  • Do your research. Engage independent town planners and site inspectors to help oversee the process.
  • When you’re going to contract stage, make sure the contract reflects your expectations, selections and building requirements.
  • Know your budget. You can spend a little or a lot so know set a goal is and stick to it.
  • Ensure you have budgeted for items that will need to be done post construction. I.e. Landscaping, fencing, vehicle crossovers, subdivision, etc.

For more interior design or style inspiration, visit one of our award-winning display homes, or check out our style gallery, where you can save and organise all your favourite Metricon home designs.