For over a decade, Allaro Homes has been known as one of the finest builders of custom homes in both Cairns and Townsville. Known as W&J Builders for its first 10 years of operation, founders Wayne and Jenny Cavallaro changed the name to Better Homes Queensland, and soon after, in 2010, to the company’s current title, Allaro Homes. Allaro primarily caters to the second and third homebuyer’s market in Cairns, while carrying out commercial works as well.
Clients who choose Allaro are those who want to have serious input into the design and construction of their own home. “When they come in, we get a fairly substantial brief from them as to what they’re looking for,” says Wayne. “They usually come in with a big collage of things, photos and scrapbooks. We put all of that together, and taking their budget and lifestyle into consideration, we design something that will best suit them.” Allaro uses modelling program to draw the designs in 3d, allowing clients to view the house as it will look when completed. Wayne’s eldest son, Troy, has developed additional software to convert the virtual model into a 3d virtual reality map that clients can observe as if they were standing in the home itself. “It’s almost photorealistic, and you can walk through the house and see how it’s going to be finished. People come here to make the biggest investment of their lives, and this technology has been able to let us show our clients exactly what they’re going to be getting.”
Wayne points out that, within the housing industry, sustainability within the design of a home is simply common sense. “The designs have to make sense within the context of the house’s surroundings and environment. It all just comes down to things like facing the house the right way, and capturing the natural breezes to keep the house cool.“ Allaro also recommends a number of additional sustainability features, such as solar panels, insulation, and many other energy reduction devices. “Those things cost money up front, but they pay for themselves in 5 or 10 years’ time,” Cavallaro continues. “If you design the house properly to start with, you’re just miles ahead. That’s where a custom home is the most advantageous; you’re not stuck with something that you just picked out of a book. If it’s custom designed to suit that block of land, it’s just going to work better.”
Allaro has completed a number of homes located on hill slopes, a daunting task that has become somewhat of a specialty of the business. “We’ve got a name for building on hill slopes,” Wayne says, “we know what to look for, what to plan for, and what we need to allow for in the building process.” One of the company’s most memorable projects to date was the construction of Parkview Apartments, a 52-unit, 7 story building with a basement car park, situated in the centre of Cairns. The project was the recipient of a Unit Development Award, both on the local and state level. Allaro is currently in the planning phase for a number of new commercial works in the region.
Of the numerous awards that Allaro Homes has received, the most meaningful to Wayne is not for any home the company has built, but for the business itself. “The Small to Medium Professional Builder Award doesn’t judge your homes;” he says, “they actually come in and judge your business, where you’re going and what you’re doing.” Allaro has been the recipient of the award for three years in Cairns. “The awards are nice,” Wayne continues, “but the real reward for us is what our clients think of their homes. If we do our job right, and they’re happy with their house, then that’s an award in itself.”
Allaro is an associate of both the HIA and the MBA, and works closely with both organisations. “Their body of information is enormous,” Wayne says, “and over the years, we’ve learned to lean on them more and more, because you can simply contact them with a question, and they’ve either got the answer, or they can find it for you, and save you a lot of time you would otherwise spend researching.” As well, Allaro has made a point to develop strong ties with a number of preferred suppliers. “We’re pretty loyal to our people, so we look for someone we can work with, and we’ll stick with them. We don’t chop and change a lot, so the relationships we have with our suppliers have become very robust and strong.”
Recently, Wayne has noticed that the number of new unit developments diminished significantly, due in part to the sector’s drastically increasing insurance rates. “The body corporate insurance has skyrocketed, it’s gone up 1000 per cent,” he says. “It makes the units not viable to own. Master Builders and HIA are trying to address it, but you’re talking to insurance companies, who are trying to get their money back from the recent disasters we’ve had. It’s something that very much needs to be addressed on the commercial side of the industry.” Wayne also points out the steadily rising cost of building in the housing sector, which has caused difficulties for younger buyers to successfully enter the market. In response, developers have begun a new trend of dividing land into very small lots, and building compact 2-storey, 1-garage homes on each plot. “I know that that works price wise, but does it work for a community?” Wayne asks. “To fully develop it and then put people in there, it’s very close living. Time will tell whether that works or not.”
Wayne began his career within the industry at 25, carrying on the building tradition upheld by his grandfather, father, and uncle. “I’ve got 4 sons now, 2 of which have completed apprenticeships within the business.” He says. “My eldest son works in the office, he’ll run the business eventually. He’s really been able to bring technology into the company.” Troy has spent the last 4 years designing a computer program that, when a home design is loaded into it, generates a price and produces a finishing schedule, all of which is derived from the drawing. “It develops an order for it, it programs the progress of the work, the guys take their tablets out on site, and they tick off where the job’s at. It then alerts the office that the project has reached the next stage,” Wayne explains. “It’s taken a long time to get it to where it is, and we’ve been using it for the last 12 months.” Looking to the future, Wayne and Troy aim to further develop Allaro’s 3d home viewing software using VR technology, and use it as a distributable incentive for the company’s planned franchising expansion. “Our goal is to franchise the Allaro name,” says Wayne, “and we’re a fair way down that track already. The backbone of it will be the software package that we’ll be able to offer the potential builders. That’s the future, that’s where we want to go.”