Front Porch Properties is a Brisbane-based design and construction business, founded by Brisbane girl Rachael Turner. They are a company that guides clients from initial design through to completion, with Rachael personally overseeing each step to ensure the client’s vision comes together. Rachael’s personal vision, meanwhile, is to “make a dent in the construction industry, build beautiful unique homes, and put the customer first.”
Prior to working in construction, Rachael had a career as a classical pianist and music teacher. She had always been passionate about building and design, however, ever since she was a little girl. After operating a successful music school for 10 years, she decided to take the leap and pursue her building dreams.
Rachael started her career in the industry by buying, renovating, and flipping houses in Brisbane. Almost immediately, that business took off, and people began approaching her about doing their custom homes and renovations. Emboldened by that interest, Rachael went through the process of earning her Builder’s License, and in 2014, Front Porch Properties formerly commenced.
In the years since, the company has slowly grown in size and prestige, and has steadily honed and refined their team of tradespeople and professionals. Rachael says that team-building process has been her biggest challenge.
“It has taken some time,” she says. “There’s been a lot of trial and error, a lot of sifting through guys in order to find the right ones. That’s what we’ve done. We have built a really good, reliable, honest, and trustworthy team.”
These days, with that team in place, Front Porch Properties does both alterations and additions and brand new homes, for external clients as well as on their own developments. In terms of size and value, their projects range across “the full spectrum,” Rachael says – they do everything from new homes valued as high as $1.5 million, to kitchen and bathroom renovations done on a budget, using repurposed materials.
“We love to make something great out of nothing,” Rachael explains. “Taking existing kitchens and bringing them back to life without ripping them up and gutting them and starting from scratch – that’s right up our alley. I love that. I love the challenge of that.”
“Also, I love it because we are in-and-out really quick,” she says. “We come in, and three weeks later, you have a new kitchen or a new bathroom, and the project is over. We thrive on those fast-paced, quick turnaround projects.”
In all cases, Rachael believes clients choose Front Porch, at least in part, because it’s one of the few women-led building companies in the city.
“Typically, when it comes to a new build or a renovation, you’re working with a family – with a husband and a wife, or a mom and a dad,” she says, “The woman is especially invested, as wives are typically the homemakers. Often, they are the ones that are driving the process. I think they appreciate being able to communicate their vision to another woman.”
Those clients also appreciate that Front Porch Properties is a “one-stop-shop.” The same woman – Rachael – manages every step of the process, from conception to completion. She’s there from the initial meeting with the client, she handles all the design work, she deals with all the consultants, she liaises with council, and she oversees all the construction, interior design, and landscaping.
“A common story is that a client will go to a designer first, get their plans drawn up, and then take them to a builder –who will have an entirely different idea of how much it’s going to cost or how buildable it’s going to be,” Rachael says.
“We eliminate all that,” she explains. “I personally manage the process from the very beginning through to the very end. I make it streamlined, easy, and as stress-free as possible.”
Blending the old with the new
With every project they deliver – no matter the size or scope and no matter the client – Front Porch Properties aims to achieve an extremely high quality standard.
A recent and notable example of the company’s capability would be a renovation they completed in Coorparoo, Brisbane. There, they transformed a 1930s pre-war home into a modern and luxurious farmhouse. The finished product has since been bought by Brisbane Lions player Lachie Neal and his wife.
Rachael says that homes was “carefully planned to ensure the new home buyers had a very comfortable, relaxed, and easy lifestyle.” The home now has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living areas, four separate entertaining decks, and a pool.
The feedback they have gotten, Rachael says, has been fantastic – with the latest buyer being particularly effusive. She recalls reading a recent newspaper article about Lachie Neal and his wife, and their recent move to Brisbane. In the article, they are quoted as saying that no other home they saw on their house-hunt compared, that nothing else ticked all the boxes they were looking for.
“They also appreciated how it really combined the old with the new,” Rachel says.
“That’s important to us,” she explains. “When we do renovations, we care a lot about keeping what made the home special in the first place. We don’t just want to rip it all out. We want to keep the unique, old school features, and blend it with the new stuff. We want to create a modern classic look.”
The success of that job, she says, is a credit to that focus – but it’s also a credit to the quality of the company’s subcontractors and suppliers. As mentioned earlier, it took Rachael a long time to build that team, but she now feels like she has some of the best partners on the market.
“We want partners that are highly skilled, but they also have to be extremely trustworthy and honest,” she says. “That’s really hard to find in the construction industry. But I think we’ve done it.”
An example of such a partner is Intrim Mouldings – a company that has been manufacturing and supplying timber building products in Australia for over 23 years. They have evolved over time to become one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of finely crafted, quality architectural mouldings and handrails. They share Front Porch’s values of service and innovation, and they are dedicated to helping their clients make their interiors spectacular.
Having a partner like Intrim, Rachael says, “goes such a long way to making sure jobs go smoothly.”
Rachael has walked a unique path throughout her career in building. Now that she has achieved success, she has made it a priority to help others like her do the same. Since forming Front Porch Properties, she has become an ambassador for vocational education and often speaks to high schoolers about career pathways in the construction industry.
For her efforts in mentoring the next generation – and for the quality excellence her company provides – Rachael was recently recognised at the 2018 Master Builders Housing and Construction Awards, where she received the Queensland award for ‘Women in Building.’
In a press release announcing that win last year, Master Builders’ CEO Grant Galvin said the ‘Women in Building’ Award is an important showcase of the contributions women make each day to the building and construction industry.
“Every year we are seeing more and more women enter the industry and this is something Master Builders really supports and encourages,” he said.
“From a skills shortage perspective, to promote the ongoing productivity and viability of the industry, and to provide a balance for better, it is integral that we maintain and grow the number of women working in the industry.
“The Women in Building award is a fantastic way to motivate, promote, and support the hard work and valuable contributions women make to the building and construction industry.”
Mr. Galvin went on to call Rachael, in particular, a “stand-out woman in her field.” He said she was “at the forefront of building and innovation and is an extremely deserving winner of the Queensland ‘Women in Building’ title.”
Rachael says that personally, she was very honoured by that accolade, but also very shocked:
“I was nominated by an external party, so that means heaps to me,” she says. “It’s very nice to get that recognition. It’s very flattering.”
Recently, Rachael was the face of TAFE’s summer marketing campaign. She was in TV commercials and on billboards promoting the organisation, having signed up in the hopes of helping to shape the next generation of tradespeople. In her time in the industry, she’s witnessed more than a few subpar trades, and she believes what they have in common is a lack of proper training. She wants to help reverse that trend.
She also wants to help the next generation of women get into construction. That’s why she speaks in high schools about the pathways into the industry.
“I actually don’t think it’s clear how to get into construction, or how to become a builder,” she says. “I think there are pathways that aren’t so apparent. You don’t have to become an apprentice and work for a builder and work your way up. That’s not how I got into the industry.”
“I like to be a spokesperson for vocational educational training,” she continues. “I like to share my story and encourage others, especially women, to enter the industry.”
Moving forward, Rachael will continue to share the story of her journey, and her journey will continue to inform the quality of her work. She says that maintaining that quality is her most important goal. Her second most important goal, she says, is using the business to “give back.”
“That’s really critical to me,” she explains. “It’s something I want to do a lot more of. I’ve done it a little bit with my time, but I’d love to be able to do more. I’d love to do things like fund housing projects in South East Asia and other parts of the world.”
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and just have a successful business,” she concludes. “I want to leave a more significant legacy than that.”For more on Front Porch Properties, their capabilities, and their past projects – and to get in touch with Rachael and her team – visit http://frontporchproperties.com.au/