Custom home builder Cambridge Homes was the right choice

When the New Zealand national team’s former footballer and head coach, Ricki Herbert, was looking at building his first custom home, he knew that working with custom home builder, Cambridge Homes was the right choice.

Ricki had the opportunity to meet Cambridge Homes’ owners Tim and Peter through a colleague, and the timing coincided with him and his wife, Raewyn, looking at the first steps in building their home.

He explains: “We connected early on, and I really aligned with them; they’re great people. I liked their openness and transparency. Sometimes in life, you just know this is the right thing to do.”

It was clear to the Herberts that they had found the right custom home builders for them.


“What could our first custom home look like?”

Ricki and Raewyn hadn’t been down the custom build route before.

“That was the cool thing for us. We thought, how far could we push the envelope?” Ricki says.

We started with the design of the ‘Penrith’ standard house plan. The 3-bedroom design with ensuite, double garage, and separate lounge was the right size (180m2) and shape for the section they had chosen, but more importantly, it is highly configurable.

With Ricki’s background in building a dynamic management team around him, he wanted to align that to a house where he could have some features that didn’t come in a standard package.

We suggested Ricki drive around the Cambridge area to look for inspiration from what other people had built. Ricki found the house he wanted his own to be modelled on in St Kilda – one of the more high-end subdivisions in Cambridge known for its large sections, strong covenants, and sprawling houses. It was quite a change from the standard Penrith plan.


Drawing up the custom plans

During the architect session, we took Ricki’s ideas and modified the Penrith plan to get the essence of his inspiration.

Ricki says there was an amazing degree of flexibility. “We had the flexibility and the ability to have a dialogue with a company that was incredibly receptive and helpful, to allow us to have some things that were different.”

“We played around with some thoughts on how the house would look on the outside and the inside, scoping it out and bouncing ideas.”

He also appreciated the ability to collaborate with the Cambridge Homes team and lean on their expertise, background, and history in the building industry.

“We were able to provide our thoughts about how we wanted the end design to look, and that was always accepted. At times our thoughts were challenged, and we always welcomed that.”

We made quite significant changes to the shape and style of the exterior of the Penrith plan to transform it into what Ricki wanted. We also added a few unique features on the inside that weren’t part of the standard package, including a scullery (walk-in pantry), wine cooler, and a media room in the front as opposed to the standard living room.

In the end, we created a plan that was completely specific to Ricki. He even suggested we call it the ‘RH3’.

Cambridge Homes’ builder John Riggir says, “We took a standard house build that you see replicated over and over again in the suburbs and shaped it into something completely fresh. It was inspirational.”


Silver linings and solutions-focused

While there were no major obstacles or challenges during the nine-month build process, we encountered a technical problem: the concrete floors that Ricki originally wanted were no longer possible. However, we were able to find an alternative solution, large concrete-finished tiles, that were a lot more modern and consistent with the house’s overall style.

John says, “What was a disappointment initially turned into a very good outcome aesthetically for the interior.”

Ricki’s ‘perfect’ lawn also gave us some trouble. We got the lawn growing, but then it began misbehaving. We had to teach Ricki how to apply weed, feed fertiliser, and keep on top of it.


The standout house on the street

Ricki’s completed new build fronts directly on the street. It’s a corner section so that you can look at it from both sides of the road.

John says, “You get the houses that are replicated or slightly different from each other, but this one was a standout on the corner. It has a completely different approach.”

Ricki says working with Cambridge Homes was an amazing experience that allowed him to design a house that was all about his family.

“We’re very happy with what we’ve done and very proud of the house that we have. We got exactly what we wanted. We walk into our house every day and think – this is really cool. This is what suits us.”