Killarney Homes’ strong vision to build the best in energy-efficient homes for the tropics underpins the our design philosophy and defines our place in the Northern Territory market.
The HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards program is unsurpassed in the residential building industry. As 2017 Australian winners, we’re proud to tell our story.
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When you come off a cattle property you know about the elements and you’ve learned how to fix things, because no one else is going to do it for you when you’re isolated for six months of the year.
The lessons learned in the bush have served Damien and Michael Moriarty well in the hothouse that is Darwin’s competitive building industry.
"We like to look after people through the entire life cycle of the construction period," says Damien. "We can make sure we are satisfying their requirements."
That includes custom design of houses with their in-house drafters and bespoke solutions, even for first home buyers.
"The future is allowing people to have that decision-making power," says Damien. "If your product is predictable you can really get your costs under control but is it about that or is it designing a system that fully caters for a client."
In any case this aligns with Killarney’s key points of difference – its environmental approach and site responsive design practice, which also helps rein in the "colossal" costs of building in Darwin with its restrictive cyclone code.
"We really push hard to design houses that are appropriate for the tropics - deep shade, energy efficiency, and resource deficiency, which is often overlooked," says Damien. "But you’ve got to make the most of the budget. We can’t afford to have any unoptimised space."
Damien says smart design and better site practices have delivered big savings as well as energy efficiency and big waste reductions.
"When people look at energy efficiency and the environment they normally just see costs. There are serious savings that can be made by doing it," he says.
Computer modelling also plays a big part in Killarney’s design approach, looking at things like air movement inside a house, location and aspect, the relationship between insulation and roof forms.
With a "critical mass of projects behind" it, Killarney has silenced the doubters. A client recently commented on how astonishingly low her power bill was. "It’s very satisfying, knowing that whole-of -life saving is real," says Damien.
Killarney has also been able to shorten construction timelines through better coordination and cutting time lost in between trades.
"We’ve been building astonishingly quick houses," says Damien, with a recent batch completed in between 13 and 14 weeks.
Damien says economic ups and downs are a fact of life in Darwin that is ‘’forcing Killarney to work hard on operating costs, innovation and standing out in the market where so often the response is to slash prices to attract interest".
One response to Darwin’s sky-high rents is an offer to pay the client’s rent during construction as a way to take the pressure of first home buyers.
Damien remains upbeat about Darwin’s future, linked as it is to big infrastructure projects. "It’s still a long-term play," he says.
Damien says winning a national award is a stunning result. "It shows how good NT business are when benchmarked on the national stage. We’re obviously smaller and a bit isolated but we’ve turned that into a strength and it has allowed us to really innovate aggressively."
It all comes down to values at Killarney Homes.
"The most important thing is to properly understand your value proposition. Why you are building a house?" says Damien Moriarty. "It can’t be to just make money."
He says there are projects he has said no to because of design flaws or products that weren’t environmentally sound.
"We are aware of the legacy that we’re leaving when we’re building houses," he says. "Working out what to say no to helped everything from top to bottom."
Awards are built on the backs of staff, he says, and that is reflected in the company’s flat management structure in which the bosses aren’t immediately discernible and everyone is an ambassador for the business.
While thrilling to win, Damien says awards can be a great benchmarking exercise and help you understand a lot more about your business by talking about your business.
"A great way of understanding your value proposition is going through the entry application. It is enormously useful to reflect on the efforts of previous 12 months."