Blood, sweat and remarkable generosity - what the Strathnairn Charity House really represents

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People cutting ribbon

(Left to right) Ginninderry project director Steve Harding, Kane Constructions general manager Jo Farrell, Aunty Violet Sheridan, Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, Master Builders ACT president Frank Porreca and Hands Across Canberra CEO Peter Gordon at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the official opening of the Strathnairn Charity House. Photo: Region.

Headlines today paint a picture of a housing market and construction industry in flux, but this story bucks the trend in spectacular fashion.

It’s the story of several stakeholders coming together to build something remarkable out of hard work, generosity and community spirit. Also: top-notch building materials.

As you read this, the finishing touches are being made on Strathnairn Charity House – a project three years in the making.

Kane Constructions general manager Jo Farrell says Strathnairn Charity House is a “shining light that demonstrates the heart” of the construction industry. Photo: Professional Headshots Canberra.

Even as the marketing materials go out announcing the auction date of Saturday, 25 March, General Manager of Kane Constructions Jo Farrell and her team are sleeves up and onsite.

“We’re down to the wire,” she laughs.

“Issues with materials and labour shortages – we’ve seen some crazy things over the past few years. Four-week lead times blowing out to 18 and 40 per cent increases in the cost of materials.

“This house was built during one of the most challenging times the industry has faced, but we’ve weathered it together. For so many businesses – many just mum and dad operations – to donate goods and services in this environment is incredible.

“It’s only now I look around and I’m in awe of what we’ve built here. This house is a shining light that demonstrates the heart of this industry.”

Kane Constructions took point on the build of Strathnairn Charity House, a collaboration between MBA ACT and Ginninderry Joint Venture to design and construct a premium home in a fast-growing suburb.

The proceeds of its sale will be donated to Hands Across Canberra for distribution to three charities – Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, Karinya House and Canberra City Care Charnwood.

“As tough a time as people are going through, charities are doing it tougher,” Jo says.

“They’ve been helping the hardest hit in the community.”

READ ALSO All-female sales team tasked with fetching best outcome for Strathnairn Charity House

The house is a 336 sqm architecturally designed marvel with a 7.3-star energy efficiency rating.

It is positioned north-facing on a generous parcel of land in a prime location close to a neighbourhood park and the Ginninderry conservation corridor, with a soon-to-be-built school a short distance away.

The house is built with an innovative split-level intergenerational design feature that can be part of the house or siloed for privacy to account for ever-changing family dynamics.

But according to Ginninderry Project Director Steve Harding, one of the most impressive features of the project was its 80 per cent female participation rate – something close to Ginninderry’s heart.

From the design to construction, including tradies across multiple disciplines from building to plumbing and electricity, right down to the styling, marketing and even the sale and auction of the Strathnairn Charity House, women have been the project’s coalface.

“Eighty per cent is an outstanding achievement in diversity, considering the industry average is only around 13 per cent,” Steve says.

“The construction industry, like many industries, is facing a skills shortage, so providing more opportunities for women to participate will support the industry and support the economy.”

The Strathnairn Charity House provided the ideal training site for one of Ginninderry’s SPARK training and employment programs, which saw Ginninderry and Master Builders ACT muster female apprentices and participants in every trade discipline to play a part.

The Strathnairn Charity House is the fourth charity house the Master Builders ACT (MBA ACT) has helped coordinate.

MBA ACT CEO Michael Hopkins says it may be the most ambitious yet, “built with love and care in an unprecedented time”.

“The house itself has been built with exceptional attention to detail, and the quality is very high,” he says.

“Someone out there is about to get themselves an exceptional home and help some deserving charities in the process.”

Jo says even those not in the market to buy should come down on auction day.

“This is a kind of rally call,” she says.

“This house is a truly amazing thing to come out of Canberra and represents the best of the local industry, so come and have a look for that reason, if nothing else.

“If you have women around you interested in a trade, come meet us; we’ll be there on the day.

“We’re excited. This is personal for us. We’re proud and we hope to see the community there on the day, in support, and to share that moment with us.”

READ ALSO A 10-week program designed to SPARK women’s interest in the trades

The Strathnairn Charity House auction will be held on Saturday, 25 March, at 1 pm.

Between now and auction day, the property will be open on:

  • Wednesdays, 5:30 pm – 6 pm
  • Thursdays, 5:30 pm – 6 pm
  • Saturdays, 3 pm – 3:30 pm.

For more information, visit the Strathnairn Charity House webpage.

For those interested in raising their hand on the day, visit the Zango listing.


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