On the weekend I attended the auction of a home that received a ton of publicity.
The auction gathered a crowd. Understandable, it is an excellent example of modern architectural design in Melbourne. For those curious, it was Cyndi Dawes’ home.
The auctioneer strutted his stuff, pumping the house’s features, in particular, how rare it is to find a home like this in Melbourne. In a last stab at convincing a parting bidder to ‘jump back in the game’, he said words to the effect of:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a home like this. Just think of what you’d have to go through to achieve such perfection; you’ll need to hire an architect, get council permits, then go through the ordeal of building. It’s a long and stressful process..."
This statement cut me to the quick.
But ultimately, this revealed a truth about the auctioneer himself...
He doesn’t know what it means to engage an architect.
Fundamentally, an architecturally-designed home is a custom-made home. It is akin to having a suit tailor-made.
The architects, Harrison and White, designed this home for Cyndi Dawes, for what she saw as being her 'oasis'.
I’m not saying no one should buy this house, nor am I saying that a future owner will not experience the same level of enjoyment as Cyndi. What I am saying is that we can't all go op-shopping, hoping to find a tailor-made suit that perfectly fits.
We're all unique, so we'll inevitably need to alter a place before calling it home... and do not tell me they can just 'add a pop of colour'.
Beside the dichotomous statement the auctioneer made, suggesting the unnecessary excess of engaging an architect, while reminding onlookers of the rare opportunity to obtain such a work of architecture, without even crediting the architect, I should note, I would like to point out that old homes renovated by architects and new homes designed by architects are more valuable!
This is a fact. If you want evidence, take a look at the recent Melbourne University x Architeam study.
It's not a shock that inner-Melbourne homes are now leaping well past the $2m mark. Tell me, if you had that kind of money, would you just be after the tangible stuff to prove to the bank that your home is worth it? Or would you be after something a little more exceptional? The same exception, perhaps, that brings your home publicity across the country?
Picture this; imagine that dinner, you know, that dinner you dream about when you finally have your home together? When all your friends are seated around the extra-long table in your amazing, newly acquired dream home.
In this beautiful room void of white plaster walls. All the plants are alive and you have all the furniture you've dreamed about buying for decades.
There you are, a skinnier, more relaxed, funny, suave version of you, standing at the head of the table, all proud, wrangling a cork out of a Grange (because you only have the best) and you say what?
Do you say...
"Yeah this house has a double garage, and is within walking distance to the local bus stop."
"Yeah, it made an appearance in the Design Files."
While all your friends nod in approval as their eyes dart across the unusual room, absorbing every corner.
Which is more desirable?
The truth is, people looking to spend in the millions on Melbourne real estate have higher expectations than a 'clean and tidy, with all the amenities' kinda home. They're looking for something unique, and have long shunned property developer stock. All of these people reside in the upper echelons of modern high society. They're successful professionals, who value the money they have worked hard to gain. They don't have time on their hands, and when they do, they want to spend it in meaningful engagement with what and who they love. They’re looking for, as Cyndi Dawes put it, their ‘urban oasis’. One that can only be achieved by hiring an architect.
Now, aside from having the opportunity to inhabit a building that is you personified, and the knowledge that 'going through the ordeal of hiring an architect' will improve the value of your home, I would like to point out one final reason you should 'bother'...
You're contributing to architecture. Houses like Cyndi Dawes' shouldn’t be the exception, they should be the norm. It's an exciting and thrilling pleasure to undertake to have a professional design a whole building for you, and you should look forward to the pleasure of that experience.
Sure, it is a seemingly costly process, but it ends up costing you the same as if you were buying a pre-renovated house because the seller of the pre-renovated house did their math before choosing a sale price.
Yes, it'll take time, but it doesn't need to be stressful because, contrary to the auctioneer's statement, the architect gets all the permits, sorts out the builder, everything.
In case you were wondering, the house sold for $2,510,000 (more than $200k over the asking price).
For those kinds of bucks, you can create your oasis rather than purchase someone else's.
Written by Wesley Spencer, RARA Architecture