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Frequently asked questions about country homes

These Country homes have a science behind the designs that give them timeless character and style. There is an instant sense of accord and recollection with the homes of the early Australian era but with a touch of uniqueness that is the crowning touch.A few particular defining features are: steep roof pitches, feature gables, and classic window and door styling, giving your home signature class.  We have a very keen interest in the end result of what your home will look and feel like because we love seeing our homes align and compliment the beautiful rural landscape Australian landscape. We believe your home should become a classic country icon that can be left as a family legacy!

We have 2 offices in victoria.The Ballarat office is located at 9413, Western Highway, Warrenheip, Vic 3352 with our display home. Email or call (03) 4333 0504.

The Hamiton office is located at 979 Hensley park road, Hensley Park, vic, 3300. Email or call (03) 55748255

No. We’ve established that to be able to satisfy all our customers to the high standard we believe in, we can only build within a certain range in Victoria. Click here to see if we build in your area.
Yes, they are included in your package, with a vast range of colours and styles of carpet and vinyl plank for you to choose from.
Yes. We’re Registered Building Practitioners and our homes comply with all Building Code legislation and Building Commission guidelines. In fact, they go beyond minimum requirements to ensure a solid and lasting completed home – full external structural bracing around the whole home, heavy steel chassis, steel piers and concrete foundations are standard in all our homes. These homes have been designed to stand the test of time in the Australian countryside so we can’t and don’t make any compromises.

It’s a good question…. Yes & No.. 🙂 Because we are striving to be the best at country homes and building homes that are in keeping with the research and science that have been put into them, we have to say ‘no’  to full custom homes that would not give the customer the best experience and style they want and would take us off the ideal. We would like to be able to be ‘all things to all’, but it’s a known statistic that it often results in being mediocre to all. One of our customers put it best regarding their new home “This is not the home I would have designed but it’s the home I wanted and is perfect for the landscape that it’s in! It just feels right!All things considered, we also realize that you and your property are unique and you will have particular considerations to allow for and we are fully prepared to work with you on these. So, we are happy to discuss these with you and we’re sure we can create for your needs and style.

Those who build with us, enjoy a no fuss, transparent process. If a planning permit is required, we use an accredited specialist in planning, environment and local government law to prepare the planning report, lodge it with council and track it until the permit is received. This service costs between $1,000 to $1,200 + council fees (about $1,200), and is paid direct by you to the council, but we arrange everything on your behalf to make it as smooth and quick for you as possible.The team recently set a record of 4 days to receive a planning permit!

When you pay the $2,700 Blueprint payment, it means that we can finalise the price for you. After that the price is held for 4 months, after which time any price increases are a maximum of the current CPI. This gives you peace of mind.

We get it: all the paperwork and technicalities surrounding your home build can be a bit overwhelming.  Contracts, finance approval and permits… not to mention the 101 decisions you must make when planning the home itself!  However, we’d like to assure you that even though it’s an emotional and exciting journey, the team at Hensley Park are here to support you every step of the way.Most customers require additional finance in the form of a bank loan to be able to complete their new home.  This is perhaps one of the most important steps in the initial building process, and one that can be rather daunting, especially if building is a new experience!  Over the years we’ve noticed that the concept of signing the home contract in conjunction with getting finance approval seems to cause confusion in the minds of some of our customers, so we’re taking the time to explain these two points here – we want to ensure that you understand and are comfortable with every stage of your new home build, from start to completion.

It’s important to understand that when a bank gives pre-approval for finance, this is only calculated on a set of basic criteria such as current earnings, potential equity position etc.  It doesn’t take into consideration a lot of the fine details such as accurate pricing, the building company, the method of the build and permits, all of which are necessary for the bank to process the loan application and progress it to a full finance approval.

Here’s how it works:

Your bank will require a signed contract to grant unconditional finance.  We understand that you may feel hesitant to enter into signing a contract without guaranteed funds, however it’s super important that you understand that Hensley Park’s home contracts are subject to finance approval: i.e. your home contract is not binding until you receive confirmation of your unconditional finance from your financial institution.

So, once everything is sorted (including plans, specifications and planning permit) and everyone is happy to take the next step, the contract is signed by both parties (Hensley Park and the customer) then it’s the customer’s job to go back to the bank with the newly signed contract and apply for unconditional finance to get the home build underway.  The bank processes the application and approves it, then the customer pays the 5% deposit and the contract is actioned: from here it’s all systems go!

To summarize, it’s critical to understand the two separate steps of signing and paying the deposit: signing the contract simply means that both parties agree to and lock in all the relevant details of the home (plans, specifications, pricing, terms & conditions etc.) whereas paying the deposit is the means by which the contract is ratified or activated.

Typically, banks take several weeks to process and approve finance.  Our contracts include a minimum 21-day clause for finance approval, however, if the wheels of progress are moving slowly, we can handle that too: the key is good communication between us and the customer, so we know where the approval is at.  If the approval process is really dragging out (e.g.: upward of 3-4 months) and the home price has increased slightly, it may become necessary to cancel the initial contract and re-sign a new one, however, this situation is rare.

Just another point to consider: sometimes customers require their bank to fund the initial 5% deposit, for which the bank will require a building permit.  However, as the builder, we can’t even apply for a building permit until the contract is ratified by the deposit. We understand that this situation is a bit of a ‘catch 22’ however, the key is to be aware of it and discuss it with your banker or finance broker early in the process.  Generally speaking, the situation can be worked through and a method of funding the deposit worked out between the customer and the bank.

As always, a clear understanding of each stage of the process and open communication between all relevant parties will ensure a smooth and enjoyable home building experience.  And the team at Hensley Park are here to help you create and enjoy a home that exceeds your expectations!

Are you wondering whether it’s possible to get gas to your new country home? And if so, what it will cost? How will it be delivered, stored and refilled? These are common questions and we understand your concerns, that’s why we’ve taken the time to explain the ‘ins and outs’ of gas supply to homes in rural areas.Gas is made from fossil fuels in the ground, and for domestic use it is supplied in two forms:

• LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) is not under pressure and simply runs through underground pipes. LNG is delivered to the property via a gas main and is generally available only in cities.
• LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) is a by-product of LNG and is stored under pressure in cylinders. LPG can be supplied to any new Hensley Park Home, wherever your property is situated.

Can I Get Gas to My Property?
Piped gas is generally only available in central residential areas. However, LPG (bottled gas) is available right across Australia and can be supplied to any new Hensley Park Home, wherever your property is situated.

What Size Gas Cylinder Do I Need?

Gas is supplied by a company called Elgas (there are several gas suppliers in Australia and Hensley Park Homes is not aligned with any one company; we have simply referred to Elgas in this blog for ease of use), and there are three sizes of gas bottles supplied for domestic use. Their dimensions and capacity can be seen in the table below:

Cylinder Sizes
45kg LPG Gas Cylinder Dimensions 90kg LPG Gas Cylinder Dimensions 210kg LPG Gas Cylinder Dimensions
Diameter 375mm 510mm 765mm
Height 1250mm 1380mm 1460mm
Capacity 88L 176L 411L
Tare Wt 33kg 65kg 140kg
Full Wt 78kg 155kg 350kg
Energy 2205MJ 4410MJ 10,290MJ

Credit: Elgas Ltd.

The 45kg LPG gas cylinder is probably the most commonly used size for domestic use (this is what we have at our Hensley Park Display Home in Warrenheip). Homes are generally fitted with two 45kg gas bottles and to maintain an even supply, when one bottle is empty Elgas simply removse the empty bottle and replaces it with a new one. The gas head or fitting (commonly known as a ‘pig-tail head’ because of the two little curly copper pipes that connect the gas bottles), connects the two bottles, however only one bottle is ever in use – when the first bottle runs out it’s simply a matter of turning that one off and turning the second one on, then calling to Elgas to arrange a new bottle. For the 45kg gas cylinder, Elgas replaces empty bottles with new ones.

Larger cylinders are re-filled rather than replaced. In this instance a hose is connected from the truck to the tank, and the refill happens on the spot. It is possible to have two larger bottles; however, the cylinder rental costs will rise accordingly.

What Does Gas Cost?
At the moment, the price of gas is sitting at approximately $1 per litre:

• 45kg (88L) = $88.00
• 90kg (176L) = $176.00
• 210kg (411L) = $411.00

Please note: these prices are approximate and need to be confirmed directly with the gas supplier.

There are also annual rental costs for the actual cylinders: from $50 for the 45kg bottle up to $260 for the 210kg bottle.

Gas cooking is the lowest form of usage. If gas is used only for cooking, the average household would need to get their 45kg gas cylinder replaced 2 – 3 times per year. A gas hot water service uses slightly more: if gas is installed only for hot water, the average household would need to replace their 45kg cylinder 3 – 5 times per year (depending on the number of family members). Gas heaters, especially large, ducted systems will require the 90kg or 210kg cylinders. Depending on the severity of the climate, the average household could reasonably expect to have their gas bottles refilled every 3 – 4 weeks.

Please note: these examples are estimates only. We can’t exactly guarantee the gas usage of an appliance – it depends on the model, efficiency and amount it is used.

Where Should I Store My Gas Cylinders?
The placement of your gas cylinders is largely determined by their size. The small 45kg bottle may be stored in more ‘out-of-the-way’ locations such as the back of the home, down a path etc. because they can be handled by one person and replaced easily. The placement of larger bottles will require an assessment by Elgas. Because they must be refilled rather than replaced, they must be easily accessible, and there are added dangers associated with storing large quantities of a combustible product.

The outlet or fittings of any gas cylinder must be at least 1.5m from any openable portion of a window.

How Can I Tell When My Gas is Getting Low?
There are two simple ways to check how much gas is left in your cylinder:

1. use your hand to gently ‘knock’ down the side of the bottle – you will hear it go from a ‘hollow’ ring to a more ‘dead’ sound. The hollow sounding portion is empty, the dead sounding portion is full.
2. Gently pour a jug of warm water down the side of the cylinder. You will notice a condensation line appear on the tank – this will show how much gas is left.

Who Arranges the Gas for My Home?

At the end of the building process, you’ll need to call a gas provider of your choice (ie, Elgas) and arrange the gas cylinder/s and establish a gas agreement. If it is a large cylinder, it will be delivered and installed with a minimal amount of gas in it, then after it has been plumbed in and tested by the plumber, Elgas will return to fill it up to maximum capacity.

Elgas’s re-ordering system is extremely user-friendly. Ordering can be done via SMS or by phoning. After Elgas has monitored your gas usage for a certain length of time, they offer a service whereby they can notify you to check your cylinders and see if they need replacing/refilling.

Gas is commonly installed in Hensley Park Homes and our team is here to answer any other questions or discuss other concerns you may have regarding gas at your new country home.

In recent years, we’ve made some changes for the better here at Hensley Park Homes, and one of these changes is that we now build our homes on site from scratch – we no longer build our homes in a factory.

Some of the people that approach us today about getting a new home still think that we build transportable, so we thought it would be good to put it down on paper why we changed.

The original goal of the business was to build a home that offered the benefits of quality combined with speed and value. We figured that building the homes in a controlled environment would be the way we could achieve the package of these benefits, so that’s the road we went down.

After many years of developing the pre-built system, we stood back and realised that there were still challenges that we weren’t mastering, and that they were inherent with the transportable concept. Just to put you in the picture, when you design a transportable home, you have to design and construct it so that it can be transported, which imposes many design limitations, and in a market that demanded classic styling and good flexible design, we realised that there had to be a better way.

Of course, the principle of building homes under intensive supervision in a controlled environment out of the weather still applies, and it’s done with success in some parts of the world where the market is substantially big enough to limit the variances of design and style and achieve the economies of scale. But not here in Western & Central Victoria, unfortunately.

And the whiskers were starting to grow in a few other areas as well, such as the cost of transport due to OH&S; the prejudice of banks against transportable homes; land covenants by developers that prohibit transportable homes; access issues due to the size of the home modules that were being delivered, and duplication of trades in the factory and trades on site.

And then it hit us – we suddenly understood that the market loved our classic style of yesteryear with the beautiful chimneys, soaring rooflines and expansive verandahs, and having it built in a factory quickly wasn’t the point – it didn’t carry any value or significance to them.

So we changed. But only the method changed – we’re still focused on craftsmanship, and we’re still bent on giving you a beautiful home in the country.

And since we made the change a couple of years ago, we haven’t looked back. Quality is up, costs are down and the homes are more beautiful and stylish than ever.

From time to time we get asked about the permit side of things for demolishing an old home to make way for a new home. In fact, sometimes we get the question as to why on earth a permit is needed to simply demolish a home, so we wanted to outline a couple of points on these questions.

Demolition involves a change in the composition or form of the building as a result of works done on it, so, weird as it may seem, demolition work is considered building works under construction law.

Of course, we’re talking about houses here. If you want to demolish your chookshed and cubby house, then don’t bother reading this article, you could head straight out there now and start work because you won’t need a permit to demolish things that small.

So we’ve probably just given the game away in the last paragraph – yes, you do need a permit to demolish a home. But you won’t need a planning permit, only a building permit, and only a building demolition permit at that. By the way, just a heads up on the difference between a planning permit and a building permit – the first one looks at what you’re planning (ie, is it ok to build a new home on this land), and the other one looks at what you’re actually building (ie, what are the details of of the structure, etc).

A demolition permit is for either knocking the structure down, or transporting it away. Technically, the first one is called demolition and the second one is called removal. Not that technical really. And the permit is applied for in the landowners name, but the person who is doing the actual work of swinging the sledgehammer to knock it down is listed as the ‘builder’ and must hold a licence to do such work.

Your local council or even a private building surveyor will provide various forms that need to be filled out and returned to them with an application fee, which is generally a few hundred dollars. How long they take to assess it and approve it is as long as a piece of string, but it’s not an extensive application so it’s generally not a drawn-out process. Seasoned demolishers will often handle the whole permit process for you.

So the long and the short of it is that yes you need a permit but no it’s not a big drama.

Yes! a soil test is definitely included in the price of your new Hensley Park Home.

After the initial design session payment is made and you’ve attended a design session, then we arrange for a geotechnical engineer to visit your site and take samples of the soil so we know what’s going to be involved for the design of the house (and verandah, etc) footings.
A full copy of this soil test will be provided to you in our Blueprint document, which is yours to keep.

One clarification – this soil test is different to a Land Capability Assessment, commonly referred to as an LCA. An LCA is also done by a geotech engineer, but is for the design of a septic system – it’s not to do with the house footings. And this test – or assessment – isn’t included in the price of your new home.

So if your site doesn’t have mains sewer (also known as town sewer) then you’ll need to get a septic system installed, which means you’ll need an LCA so that both the plumber and the health officer at the council know the ins and outs of what design the septic system should be. We typically see costs of around $1,100 – $1,500 for this LCA, and you pay this direct to the engineer – there’s no point in running it through our books!

At the design session, we’ll discuss whether an LCA is needed, and if it is, then we can arrange the engineer to do this on your behalf at the same time as he does the soil test for the footings.

And by the way, the soil test for the footings can’t be used for the LCA – it’s a different type of test, and the samples go through a different laboratory.

If you’re technically minded, and you want a heap more detail on the soil test, see our separate blog here.

Ok we try really hard to be transparent and upfront about everything, so straight off the line, no, we don’t have a pricelist to hand out. Whether this is good or bad is probably a matter of opinion, but we did want to quickly point out why we don’t offer this.

The simple reason is because we don’t know how much your home will cost. No, serious, we don’t yet. Every site is different, and every home is different, and of course, every single person is very unique. We’ve never built 2 homes the same and we don’t ever expect to.

What we see so often is that when our customers go through the design process with us, they end up with a home that is tailored to suit them and their tastes – different appliances, window combinations, tile patterns, hanging lights, size of verandah – and the list is very long.

So you’re probably asking how do we cost our homes then?! Good question! Once the plans and inclusions are finalised, our team carefully works out everything that’s going to be needed, right down to the last stick of timber and hour of work, and then adds up the price, and that’s what it is. No airy fairy guessing or all-inclusive metre rates or plucking figures out of the sky. Just good old fashioned maths.

So how do you get an idea of our prices to know whether we’re a mutual fit for each other? Simply chat to us – we’ve had years of experience and once we’ve got an understanding of what you’re wanting we’ll be able to give you a price range to work with that we know will be accurate and meaningful. And bear in mind that we don’t try and offer some ridiculously low price to entice you in – we’re realists and we’ll discuss the full kit and kaboodle straight up front with you.

Of course, once you invest in a design session, then after about 4 weeks you’ll have a full and thorough document that gives you the price down to the last dollar.