Be the Change Conversation with Chris Sly

Author: BM Team
Issue 70

Be the Change Conversation with Chris Sly

BM speaks with Chris Sly from Bush and Beach Homes. We chose Chris for our ‘Be the Change Conversation’ this issue for two reasons. One because he has increased Bush and Beach Homes seven times over in the last few years and the second is that we feel Bush and Beach homes are in fact their own ‘Be the Change’ with their eco-friendly and sustainability.

Chris shared with us how just a few years ago he suffered a major heart attack which has given him a renewed vigour for his life and his business; he is grateful for the opportunity that he and his team are able to give people looking for the change in building their dream home. When people find the perfect block of land, in the perfect spot, they don’t always want to flatten it to build their home, Bush and Beach Homes can build without altering the environment, and this is what they do best.

We asked Chris to tell us a little about the business and his involvement, and how it all came to be:

Bush and Beach Homes has been established since about 2000. It was originally conceived as a kit home business.  The kit homes supplied to owner-builders or to builders that built them for clients. Then about three years ago we acquired ‘Bush and Beach’ with a vision to move it from being a kit home business to a complete turn-key for a sustainable home. Our main message is that we build sustainable homes for the Australian Market with a unique field of Australiana, based on the Australian lifestyle around the bush and beach.

Who is the perfect buyer for ‘Bush and Beach’?

Typically, they would be people buying their second or third home. Or perhaps it would be their last home that they will live in. So they are putting their heart and soul into it; it’s an expression of who they are and the way they love to live. Aussie mums and dads, we are different to the sort of homes you see in the estates. Quite often, we build on small acreage or sites that have got some unique characteristics to them that makes them a very exciting build.  They might be near the beach or it might be a steep sloping block. It might have some particular attraction in the environment it’s being built in. We can build a house that exploits and really brings out the most in its surroundings, and the very best out of that opportunity.

How have you increased the business seven times over? Tell us a bit about your background and what you did before?

I have always been in and around construction. My background is primarily in the timber industry and we ran joinery factories, sawmills and anything that was to do with timber furniture; we operated as a subcontractor to many builders in commercial and domestic projects.

Increasing the business so rapidly has really been about the people. We have a wonderful product and brand and we saw the opportunity for a niche market for the product. My experience is in management consulting, so I moved from hands-on manufacturing roles. I had a couple of different companies that I built up and sold to people.  As I had gone through that process a couple times, I had learnt how to systemise a business and produce a business that would then be successful. So I took that knowledge and worked for 12 years with different businesses all over the country that had a vision to achieve something significant; substantial. After doing that for about 12 years, the opportunity came up when the person who founded Bush and Beach Homes passed away quite unexpectedly, and there was an opportunity to acquire the business and take it to the next level.  The main thing is the people. The main thing we have done is recruited a team of exceptionally talented and passionate people. Very experienced people in the construction industry who really put their heart and soul into everything they do. It’s all about the culture and the people.

What is the point of difference from what you build to someone else who builds?

Working with the land is really important. In many cases these days, a sloping block is seen as a liability whereas, we see it as an asset. We try to work with the land which means we don’t get involved with a lot of cut and fill, so we build constructions which you might describe as a contemporary Queenslander. They sit lightly on the land and they work with the land; they don’t interfere with the natural drainage. And they just sit on the landscape in a beautiful way. There are five principles of sustainable design that we try to work with. Things like orientation, glazing, airflow and a range of other things; we try to employ all of those principles in the build.

Do people that come to you already have their land?

We have people come to us with a range of different situations.  A lot of people would like to move to the Sunshine Coast and are looking for land. We can help them to find a piece of land that can be built on. There are some blocks of land that are very difficult to build on.  Anything can be done for a price but often it’s budget sensitive. Some people invest lots of money in their land and then they haven’t got enough money to develop a house that works with that block of land because the engineering aspects can create challenges for them. We try to assist those people to get a piece of land which leaves enough in their budget to build their dream home on it. In many cases, people do have land. They’re not making any more land available near the coast. That means that sometimes we are finding pieces of land that already have a fairly humble dwelling on it that can be demolished so people can build on the Sunshine Coast.

So you take people from the beginning to the end?

We do indeed. From the initial concept right through to construction. We manage that process right through. 

What is something people should be looking for in their perfect builder?

Obviously, nobody is going to engage with a builder unless there is a high level of trust. Trust is something which has to be built over time. Generally speaking, we are in a relationship with people over a period of time, from initial contact through to completion - it could be anywhere between six months, through to 12 months or 18 months. There is a lot of interaction that goes on. We are building a relationship with genuine respect for one another and mutual understanding.

What would you like to share with our readers?

I think it’s have a go, no matter what life throws at you. About three years ago, I had a heart attack and really this opportunity came up at a time, that I was really thinking do I just lay down or do I have a go at something really substantial. That’s what we’ve done and we’ve just gone from strength to strength.  It’s really been quite an amazing journey.

(07) 5351 2000