For all our franchises, getting the chance to build someone’s new home is close to a dream come true. So when Sentinel Homes Auckland North West was selected by developers Bela and Mariann Horvath to build not one, but seven new houses, well, you could say there were high fives all around.
The husband and wife duo have been planning their build at 66 Neil Ave, Te Atatū Peninsula for years.
“The idea came to us when Auckland was re-zoned, so suddenly we could build houses in Te Atatū Peninsula. This development is our baby,” says Mariann.
After finalising designs with an architect, the couple set out to find the perfect builders – and they knew exactly what they were looking for. Since the couple both work full time and have two young girls, they needed a company that would take over the whole process.
“This is an evenings-and-weekends project. Someone needed to take it off us, and take the stress out as much as possible,” explains Mariann.
Quality was also an important consideration – not just because Mariann and Bela knew it would affect the sale price, but because building beautiful homes that add to a neighbourhood is the right thing to do.
“We wanted quality. We didn’t want to go with someone cheaper and give away all the smoothness and quality.”
For Mariann, that meant looking for a company with a proven track record and reputation. Sentinel Homes was top of the list.
“We shopped around and talked to different companies. If you go with a company that has a rep and name, you can trust they’re going to do a good job,” says Mariann.
While they met with a few builders, the couple was immediately impressed with Maree and Leon Van de Water, franchise owners of Sentinel Homes Auckland North West.
“They came across energetic, and they were as excited as we were. They wanted to do a quality job, not cut corners.”
The couple felt that Maree and Leon really shared their vision.
“We had some builders who wanted to persuade us to change things to save money. But we didn’t want to give away the quality of the design. This is what we wanted,” says Mariann. “Sentinel never did that. They were working with us to achieve the common outcome.”
Maree says that enthusiasm was genuine. “I was very impressed with their designs. We gave them feedback to help them hit the market with build quality, but ultimately our job is to bring their vision to life,” she says.
Mariann says they were pretty much sold on Sentinel Homes – and that impression was confirmed when they received their detailed quote for the build. For one thing, Sentinel Homes didn’t charge them for producing it.
“When we talked to Maree, she pulled a proposal together for us. It showed they wanted to work with us and invest a little bit to gain our trust as well,” explains Mariann.
The quote came back on par with the others they’d received, but Sentinel Homes was far more transparent than the others – and comprehensive.
“I could clearly see what was in there. Comparing the quotes, you can identify where others didn’t include things, which means potential budget blowouts.”
Sentinel Homes’ reputation in the market meant Bela and Mariann could trust in their build quality, and so could the eventual buyers. Savvy house hunters know that excellent build quality means a home will retain more value over time. The couple thought the quality of the Auckland North West team’s show home was bang on, and saw that buyers would be impressed by their success at Registered Master Builders House of the Year Awards. Only last year the team took home a regional category win and were a gold reserve finalist, as well as two golds, a silver, and a bronze.
“It does help give you a bit more peace of mind,” says Mariann. “It’s definitely a good selling point, that we’re building these properties with Sentinel Homes and that they’re award-winning.”
While the build has only just gotten underway, Sentinel Homes have already demonstrated why they were the right people for the job. When a contractor the couple had organised pulled out, Sentinel Homes stepped in so the build timelines could stay on track.
“We thought we could ask someone to do that cheaply. They cancelled of course, and Sentinel Homes said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve already got diggers booked.’ We learned our lesson to just get them to do everything!”
Mariann says she appreciated the integrity she saw from the team during that time.
“They weren’t taking advantage of the situation because we were desperate. It feels like they’re trying to help.”
With very little time to dedicate to the build, Mariann and Bela say that Sentinel Homes’ technology and proven processes were a key part of why they awarded them the project. The Sentinel mobile app was a big part of that. During the build, their Sentinel Homes project manager uses the app to keep the couple updated with everything from progress photos to upcoming billing dates.
“None of the others had anything like that. That’s something that’s really useful. We don’t always have to go and ask. They’ll put photos up because we can’t go into the site. It’s great to see what’s going on.” Now Sentinel Homes are in the driver’s seat, Mariann can relax.
“The project manager took it over and hopefully he won’t have to involve us other than for exciting stuff like walk-throughs,” she says.
Maree says this is the best endorsement that Sentinel Homes processes work.
“So far it’s been a postcard-perfect build. We started bang on time, because everyone’s been on point. This really is a partnership, with both parties open to ideas and pushing towards our shared goal.”
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