A sustainable vision
Blue Eco Homes is a family-owned and operated company with a unique vision and purpose – building high quality environmentally-sound homes for happy customers. They are committed to building homes that are supportive of the Australian environment, and match their client’s specific requirements and style. With every project, they seek to set new standards in architect-designed, environmental residential and commercial construction.
In designing each of their houses, Blue Eco’s main objective is to create a home as self-sufficient as possible in its use of energy, water re-use and waste water treatment. A Blue Eco Home offers a wide range of sustainable features that can be customised to meet individual requirements, so every client has a house that accommodates and enhances their lifestyle.
Pushing the envelope
Blue Eco Homes was established by Joe Mercieca, a veteran of the Australian building industry. Joe started his own construction business – Joe Mercieca Constructions – in 2003, operating in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Before striking out on his own, he had amassed over 25 years of industry experience spanning both residential and commercial construction. His background includes all aspects of architectural work, ranging from new houses through to renovations and additions.
“It’s probably most tradesmen’s dream to one day work for themselves,” Joe says. “I always wanted to start my own business, and it’s the best move I’ve ever made.”
In 2010, Joe Mercieca Constructions evolved and established a specialist environmentally-focused business arm – Blue Eco Homes. The name referred to the company’s base in the Blue Maintains, their commitment to innovative ‘blue sky’ thinking, and the fact that they made eco-friendly homes.
“We live in the Blue Mountains and we love the bush and everything associated with it, so it was a passion of ours,” recalls Joe. “We also like to always push the envelope and learn new things. A lot of people were talking about environmental building but not too many were seriously doing it, so we thought there was a good opportunity to give it a go.”
Today, the price range of a Blue Eco Homes project can range from about $365,000 to a $1.7 million build. The advantages of building with Blue Eco are numerous, starting with their average energy rating, which is 7.5 stars in the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme. As a result, residents of Blue Eco’s homes experience a higher overall level of comfort than standard housing, increased expectations of long-term physical and mental health, and lower utility costs – a cost that, in some cases, can be eliminated altogether.
On top of that, living in a sustainable home not only directly benefits a resident’s physical and financial wellbeing – it’s also an investment for children and future generations.
Even among builders with environmental capabilities, Joe says Blue Eco Homes stands apart due to their personalised customer service. “We spend a lot of time with clients to make sure they’re getting what they wish, dream, and need.”
During the design process, Blue Eco Homes utilises 3-D design software, enabling clients to view their future homes from the outside and inside. That software makes it simple to make any changes during the design stage, giving clients a real sense of what their homes will look like, and ensuring that what they get in the construction stage is exactly what they want.
In addition, Joe and the Blue Eco team research their projects extensively, always making sure they are marrying the right products to the right job. They are also willing to take on any job that comes their way, regardless of difficulty. “With our experience, nothing’s too hard,” Joe says. “We’ll give anything a go. Nothing is too hard at all.”
Finally, at the end of a project, Blue Eco Homes conducts an extensive handover process to make sure the client is happy and the home is defect-free. Later, even after the client has moved in, Blue Eco Homes makes sure to follow up over the phone. If there are any lingering issues, they will solve them as soon as they can. “Even if they’ve got a little problem, and we know it’s not our fault, we’ll still go up there to have a chat and see if we can help them,” Joe says.
As a result of their commitment to customer satisfaction, Joe estimates that 95 per cent of their business is generated by repeat work and word of mouth.
To ensure the quality of every job, Blue Eco Homes utilises a trusted base of local subcontractors. As with their clients, Joe strives to build open and honest relationships so that every project is delivered correctly. “They ask us a lot of questions, we ask them a lot of questions, and at the end of the day the client gets a better project,” he says. “And we even introduce our clients to some of our subcontractors, so even they don’t have an issue talking to the tradesmen actually building their project if need be.”
Merylese Mercieca is the Business Manager at Blue Eco Homes. She agrees that Blue Eco’s relationship with both employees and subcontractors is exceptionally strong, and adds that they do things like take them to award receptions to make them feel part of the team. “The whole thing is a team effort, right down from our junior apprentices, right up to ourselves running the show,” she says. “The clients, the subcontractors, our employees – everyone is part of that team. We make sure they know that.”
Since their launch, Blue Eco Homes has been repeatedly recognised locally, regionally, and nationally for its innovation and quality, as well as their commitment to the environment and to the community. In 2011 alone, they won two MBA construction awards, as well as a Blue Mountains Business of the Year for their triple bottom line sustainability principles.
“We value that industry recognition a lot, and we think our customer’s value it a lot,” Joe says. “It also gives our current and future customers confidence. We’re not a fly-by-night cowboy builder, we’re industry recognised, and we’ll keep striving to maintain that and improve on it.”
One of Blue Eco’s MBA Awards was for their Leura Garage project, where they transformed a heritage mechanic’s workshop into an environmentally sustainable restaurant-wine bar. That project required significant dedication from their building team, combined with an understanding and commitment to environmental principles. The final result was – according to the Judges’ comments – a “quality refurbished restaurant which surpasses environmental standards and client expectations, and was finished with professional quality and detail.”
According to Joe, that’s the kind of effort Blue Eco Homes puts into every job, no matter the client.
A dream and a vision
In the last 12 to 18 months, Joe estimates the business has grown 60 per cent. He says they would like to continue growing in the future, but their priority for now is putting the systems in place to support that growth. “We want to get comfortable and make sure we’re running as we need to,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re performing as well as we possibly can.”
Moving forward, Joe would also like to see Blue Eco’s commercial portfolio grow. As a builder, he already has a proven record in commercial building. As a company, he believes Blue Eco has a social responsibility to ensure that the commercial construction field is eco-friendly and sustainable. Their award-winning Leura Garage project was a good start, and he wants to build on that momentum.
“Like any company, we started off very small and humble with a dream and a vision,” Joe says. “From where we’re standing, our dreams are becoming reality.”