Bellemore Homes was established in 1985 as a single project company by husband and wife team Nick and Tina Pateras. From those humble beginnings, it has evolved into one of Melbourne’s most prestigious custom design builders. Every home they build is designed and built from the ground up; catering to customers’ needs and desires every step of the way. With Bellemore Homes, there are no restrictions and no limits to what can be achieved.
Before founding Bellemore Homes over 25 years ago, Nick Pateras worked as a draftsman. Prior to that, he worked as a real estate agent. “Building seemed to be the natural progression from what I’d done,” he says. “We started off, like everybody else, building one house. Then we built another. The first two were spec homes, and then I managed to get a couple of order jobs, and then I got involved in a display village.”
From there, Bellemore’s business grew rapidly, and so did the size of their houses. “We used to build smaller homes – and a lot more of them,” Nick says. “Over the years the homes have gotten bigger and bigger and the quality of our houses has also increased.”
Today they’re in the third and fourth home buyer market and construct between 15 and 20 homes a year. Their average house prices at around $930,000.
While Bellemore Homes has built displays, they do not seek to duplicate them for clients. “Our display homes are built purely to show people what can be achieved on a difficult site, or an unusually shaped site,” Nick explains. “They’re there to show our workmanship, and also the quality of fittings that people can have.”
“All our designs are one-off designs for a client’s particular needs, and their particular block,” he continues. “And then we take into account things like orientation, the fall on the site, and the customer’s needs in terms of space, rooms and areas they want to have incorporated into their design. We take all that into account, and we come up with an individually designed home for them.”
Bellemore employs their own in-house design team, which is led by head designer Murray Brevett. “He’s been designing for the last 40 years,” Nick says. “There’s not a lot he doesn’t know.”
The ability to design specifically for client’s needs is what sets Bellemore apart in the marketplace. “It’s in all aspects,” Nick says. “We don’t have standard designs we do slight modifications to. All our designs are one-off from the ground up; we start with a blank page every time.”
Also setting Bellemore apart is their aforementioned aptitude for working on difficult sites. “We seem to get the majority of difficult sites. We don’t get a lot of flat sites. Most of our sites are more unusual, whether they be an odd shape, or a considerable amount of fall.”
Including their architects, Bellemore Homes has 10 employees in-house. Most of their operation consists of suppliers and contractors – all of whom they have fostered excellent relationships with. “We have longstanding relationships, in particular, with our trades,” Nick says. “We have trades that have been with us since we started. You can’t build the houses we build using trades that just come and go. You need to have a steady group of tradespeople because they need to know what our requirements are, and they need to know the way we build in order to produce a consistent quality.”
“The good ones you become very close with,” he adds. “I’ve got people that have been with me for 26, 27 years. It’s a long time to have a person working for you. When you have those people you can rely on them, and not have to be concerned with what they’re going to do – you pretty well know what exactly they’re capable of.”
Trades, Nick says, are really a part of the family at Bellemore Homes – and so are customers. “With our customers, there’s no limitation as to who they can speak to,” he explains. “If they want to, and generally they do, they can just pick up the phone and speak directly to me.” Tina, Nick’s wife and partner, also calls their clients on a regular basis and updates them as to the progress of their project. Nick estimates they are in contact with their clients at least once or twice a week, whether it be delivering an update or answering question.
This family-oriented approach is vindicated by the amount of word-of-mouth and repeat business they receive. “We don’t do a lot of advertising,” Nick says. “It’s mostly people who have worked with us before, or have heard good things about working with us from other people.”
Another way in which Bellemore’s approach is vindicated is through awards. They are multiple HIA Award winners, for example, having won Project Home of the year in 2011 and 2007, and display home of the year in 2007 and 2010 in the over $500,000 category. Nick says those awards are “a really great tool.”
“It’s great to be recognised,” he says. “To build a home, and have those homes judged and being given an award is quite an honour. I see that as a real privilege. It goes a long way to show customers that we are at the top of the ladder with respect to quality of housing. People get some comfort knowing that you’ve been judged, and have won.”
Moving forward, the company is in the process of looking for a site for a new display home, and Nick is excited about that. “It’s just a matter of finding the right lot and then we can start putting a few ideas in paper, see how turns out,” he says.
As far as further growth is concerned, Nick says he likes where the business is at now. The company used to build a higher volume of smaller homes, but Nick prefers their current range. “I think we’re comfortable with what we’re doing,” he says. “I don’t want to go back to doing a lot of volume. I like building for people who appreciate the designs we do. I like being close to our customers, and I think if we went back to more volume we’d lose that closeness.”
In the long term, he wants to see Bellemore still doing one-off designs, and still satisfying their customers. “I’d like to be at the forefront of design and innovation in terms of style,” he concludes. “It’s very important to keep up with the changing trends, and we’d like to be right at the cutting edge of that.”