GOLD COAST HOUSE OF THE YEAR: HERITAGE-INSPIRED MASTERPIECE

GOLD COAST HOUSE OF THE YEAR: HERITAGE-INSPIRED MASTERPIECE

THE gorgeous rolling green plains of a working Beechmont cattle property holds a personal place in the heart of fifth-generation builder Austen Ritchie.

The 2016 House of the Year winner, dubbed Richmond Park, is a Scottish manor-style home embodying tradition which indulges not only the client's fantasy but Austen's own Scottish heritage.

After eight months of planning and selecting products, the project took just under two years to complete. The build commenced with a 160 metre retaining wall for a stable foundation.

A stunning feature is the sandstone walls, quarried locally from Toowoomba, requiring more than 215 tonnes of hand sorting before laying could start.

The balustrade for the staircase and railing was hand carved by a master craftsman specifically for the home, along with other ornate handmade furnishings including copper guttering, ridge slashing and two custom carved water fountains.

After running the family building company, Austen and wife Emily started their own business in 2005, with 20 years of experience under their belts.

Emily Ritchie says the huge project was helped by business relationships the couple have with their contractors who have been building with the Ritchie family for nearly 40 years. 

"We've never really built homes that have been standard and off the plan," says Emily.

"It's always been a real emphasis on those architectural homes that we work with designers to build.

"The paths changed a little on the way, but the client is very happy with the end result it's something different.

"It was very nice for Austen's heritage to be able to build something out of sandstone, because it's not obviously something that comes up every day. It's quite a large cost, and it's quite technical."

No luxury was spared on the home which includes a glass mosaic heated swimming pool, imported British carpets, ANDCO flooring and underfloor heating.

Attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the home from seven types of hand-pressed plaster that appear on the ceilings to the house's inbuilt lightning protection.

The award is just the latest feather in Austen Ritchie's cap, previously demonstrating his commitment to training up others in the industry by taking out the 2010 Apprentice Employer of the Year.

He was also the recipient of the 2009 Master Builders Rising Star award.

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