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Celebrating 10 Years Creating Homes

Posted by Paul Ackling 13th Jun 2019

Original Business Plan

It seems that Steve and I have always known where we wanted to go with Peninsula Homes. Even if, at times, we have not clearly understood how we’d get there. As builders, what we know best is how to work from a plan, so that is what we did 10 years ago: we documented our business plan.

This original document makes for interesting reading. What is noticeable is just how much of it stands true today. In particular, our original mission statement “the owners and employees of Peninsula Homes have a passion for building quality homes. They believe that understanding and fulfilling customers needs are paramount to the success of the business.” This understanding has become the cornerstone of what we provide all of our clients, starting from the very first meeting right through until completion.

Our First Design & Build Project

Turning points don’t come much bigger than being given the opportunity to design and build our first home. This day was in May 2010. I remember that meeting with Bill and Liz so vividly. The feeling of gratitude that someone had believed in us was mixed with the weight of responsibility to design and build these people a home. The build on a steep site ran smoothly and 9 years on, sees Bill and Liz still happily living there. At the end of this project, Bill and Liz presented Steve and myself with a plaque each which read “Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen”. To this day, these plaques take pride of place in both our homes as a great reminder of where we started.

“The whole house is fantastic. It works for us in every department and ticks all the boxes. As first timers building a house, the direction from the team at Peninsula Homes was invaluable and exceptional” – Bill & Liz – North Manly


I still laugh when remembering how nervous Steve and I were prior to interviewing for office staff back in 2011. We had two people coming from Peninsula Personnel Agency and had little idea on what to expect or even ask for that matter. Our office at the time was in the back section of a new building complex and lacking any signage, so it was tricky to find. The 1st applicant called us a couple of times trying to find the office, which was understandable. Nicole on the other hand arrived on time, having found the building managers office to confirm where our office was and get directions. This “sort-it-out” attitude was our basis for hiring Nicole and this spirit is what still shows in her every day.

Fast forward 8 years and Nicole is certainly an integral part of what we do.

We all understand each other and work together very well. It is not a stretch to describe the three of us as being like a family business.

Coming from a management background in cosmetics, Nicole has been willing to learn all she can about building over the years. While also having a natural instinct for design and colours, she brings great energy and expertise to work each day. Using these skills, Nicole has been the driver behind our fantastic website and social media. Her competitive spirit certainly has come out with the social media, with celebrations being had at each follower milestone she reaches.

I could go on and on about the things that Nicole does so well. But the real essence is that Nicole is an honest, kind, generous, intelligent, hardworking, just downright GOOD person who Steve and I are very grateful to have working with us.

Relationships With Trade & Suppliers

The details of each home we build fill our workdays, which is fantastic as we love all these building details. But, being so focused on what we are doing each day means we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture. One aspect of this big picture is our relationships with trades and suppliers, many of which have spanned the entire 10 years and are still going strong today.

What this consistency has done is to enable a genuine understanding between us. Our trades know the level of care and attention we give to each project and, in turn, what we expect from them in building these homes. Our suppliers know that we are organised in never being rushed for products and we always have time for the right materials to be in stock.

The overriding aspect of these long term relationships is the shared values of hard work, attention to detail and a love for what we do. Building our homes is truly a long-term team effort.

Best Houses Australia - TV Show

Being approached by a TV producer in 2014 to appear on Best Houses Australia was something I never would have expected. I vividly remember receiving the call and thinking really? us? are they certain?

Steve, Nicole and myself weighed up the offer as a group and they unanimously voted me as the on-air person! Seeing this as an opportunity to share with people who we are and what we do, coupled with the fact that I am always up for an adventure, we confirmed a filming date.

Well, an adventure it has certainly been since then! With three more TV appearances under the belt, it’s become an easy, fun and natural process. Steve got in front of the camera on the latest show and we even got Nicole to agree with having her photo appear. We certainly are a team!

The best part about the TV shows has been sharing our client’s stories. Each client and home is their own unique story. These people and their lives are all so very special. We certainly are lucky to have such a positive impact on people’s lives and being able to share that with a TV audience is fantastic.

Master Builders Excellence In Housing Awards

Winning our first Master Builders Award in 2017 for a home in North Curl Curl was quite amazing. The depth of satisfaction we felt is something that is difficult to describe. This award wasn’t just for building. This award was for DESIGN and construction. When Steve and I (two carpenters) started Peninsula Homes as a design & build company, it’s fair to say that we had plenty of people saying we were out of our depth in the design department. As the saying goes “if you aren’t in over your heads, how do you know how tall you are”?

Steve and I live, breathe and sleep design and construction every single day. This is not a job but rather our life and passion. A clear vision together with this passion sees us progress through the years. Working with Sally Gardner on all our designs has been a true blessing. Her knowledge, skill, positive attitude and zest for life enables us to freely share ideas and overcome whatever challenges are presented.

I still have my first pencil sketch of this winning home in the filing cabinet. It’s a treasured item as it reminds me of what creativity, coupled with perseverance can produce. To be recognised by a lead industry body for our work was a special moment indeed.

“A lot of thought has gone into this house to accommodate the needs of the client, the budget and the steep site. Full of great ideas to save space and make some rooms multi-functional to fit the family’s needs, a high standard of finish was maintained all the way through.” – Master Builders Judge

Our Second Master Builders Award

Our first award in 2017 was a little surreal, so winning a second year in a row really did cement the reality of the recognition for us. The 2018 winning home is at a lower price point and is exactly the type of home that we like to build. I had dealt with the owner John for a long time, looking at various sizes of homes to build. We eventually settled on a modest beach house. This fitted perfectly with John and Jane’s lifestyle and continues to provide them a perfect home.

The Master Builders Housing Excellence Awards is a big event held at The Star Event Centre at Star City in Sydney with around 1,000 people in attendance and with 12 awards up for grabs in the Design & Construct Category. So, in this context, coming off stage with our award, being personally greeted and congratulated by the judge, was a special note for us. He hadn’t done this for any other company exiting the stage, yet took the time to congratulate us personally on the work we do. This gesture, from a man who sees a huge number of homes, is to me, the best type of recognition.

“Peninsula Homes has designed and built a quality home to a tight budget on a fixed-price contract. The home has been designed to take into account the spectacular water views from many areas. Exceptional finishes, both externally and internally. Carpentry works were undertaken by in-house craftsmen with excellent execution. Great value for money.” – Master Builders Judge


Walk on to any building site and there will most likely be a young apprentice. These young people often start out with zero experience of what work happens on site. After all it’s with very good reason that an apprenticeship takes 4 years, as simply, there is a lot to learn. We have been fortunate in our time to have had 4 very good apprentices. These guys were all nurtured through the years by Steve as well as all our trades on site. Looking at the varied style of homes that we build they were all able to learn a wide variety of skills, which has seem them all progress into the wider industry.

It’s not only hard work and learning when it comes to apprentices. But they actually contribute greatly to our business as a whole. Their youthful energy, enthusiasm and desire to learn has a positive effect on site, not to mention providing a few laughs along the way.

It’s our intention to continue providing opportunities for these young people to enter the building industry in the hope that they may enjoy successful careers in their own right.

Celebrating 10 Years - by Nicole

How does Peninsula Homes celebrate their 10 year anniversary? By taking the team to Hong Kong! As a member of the team for the last 8 years, I feel an absolute connectedness and passion to the business and to Paul and Steve, so much so, that I treat this business as if it were my own, and Paul and Steve like my family.

You can imagine the excitement and laughter we had in preparing for this trip. That was nothing compared to what transpired in Honkers. On the 6th March 2019, Paul, Steve and his wife Marg, myself and Magdaleen set off. From the moment we arrived at Sydney Airport, the laughter began and it did not stop for 5 days!

Not even rough seas on our ferry trip from Hong Kong to Macau, Steve and Paul chowing down on fried intestines, nor our dodgy border crossing into China (well, my dodgy border crossing into China) could hold us down. We fully immersed ourselves into this vibrant city.

Without a doubt, the most memorable experience was in the Chin Chin bar at The Hyatt Regency. This was the night of Peninsula Homes’ 10th birthday. Ushered to a corner of the bar, near the stage, we were graced with an incredible singer and band. Upon realising we were from Australia, she began to belt out nothing other than AC/DC! With the Peninsula Homes team up dancing and, with a bit of persuasion, we managed to get the entire bar up and dancing with us, it made for an incredible night. Of most significance was the personal attention of the staff and the singer. Chatting to us through the night and getting to know us by name, she proudly sang Happy Birthday to Peninsula Homes. This was really special to all of us. The icing on the cake. We must have made an impact in the Chin Chin bar that night. When we returned for a quick drink the following night, we were happily greeted by the bar manager who showed us to the same table we were at the night before!

Whilst the trip was beyond our wildest dreams and delivered on so many levels, the most incredible part was our connection. The team have a bond that is really special. We understand each other, we appreciate each other and above all, respect each other. We are like family and it’s a brilliant feeling working alongside such amazing people and in an incredible business.


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