Grand Designs Australia

Episode Guide

Hornsby Heights Adobe

Series 4 · Episode 4

Kerry Mulley and Judi Shepherd are avid collectors of things with a history. They’ve got a keen eye for indigenous artifacts from all around the world and are always on the lookout to add to their ever growing collection.

After travelling extensively through the Santa Fe region in the United States, they fell in love with the handcrafted Adobe building style. They loved the look and feel of the thick natural clay rendered walls and exposed timbers. So inspired were they, that when they decided to split their battleaxe block and build another home, it had to be an Adobe – a rare slice of New Mexico on their bushy block at Hornsby Heights, an hour from Sydney’s CBD.

It took 10 years to find the specialists to bring their Adobe concoction to life. Designer Andrew Minter and builder Peter Bertuleit share the couple’s passion for the style plus Peter has a vast collection of recycled timber and corrugated iron – natural materials used to construct the frame and cladding before covering the entire surface with clay render.....and that clay is simply any old mud found on the side of the road that’s mixed with additives and then hand trowelled inside and out.

This is a one of a kind construction and Kerry and Judi are so trusting of Peter the builder, that whatever he says goes and that includes making last minute changes to the plans....and there are lots of those made on the fly.

But their biggest challenge comes in the form of an unexpected and immovable obstacle they discover runs right through the centre of what will be their lounge room. A sewer line would be enough to bring most people undone....but not Kerry and Judi. They have a plan to incorporate it into the design of their home grown Adobe.


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Posted by Andrew734Report
I am Andrew Minter.
It is an extraordinary claim by David Hallett, Grand Design Australia resident architectural expert, to say that the building was built without plans, dimensions and specifications. For example, how could the cad on your web be produced without architectural drawings ?
The building is situated in the bush and the site is a designated extreme fire hazard flame zone. My plans and specifications have been approved by Hornsby Council and a Construction Certificate has been issued. The specifications submitted with the building application addressed the flame zone fire hazard requirements and the unconventional construction method that I have developed over the past 40 years. The building has also been inspected by a building certifier whose job it is to ensure that the building is built in accordance with the approved plans.
I was employed by Kerry Mulley to design a home with a Santa Fe feel. He saw an article in a magazine featuring a house I designed and built, then contacted me. From the outset, Peter Bertuliet who at the time worked for me, was very keen to build this home under his own building licence which he had recently obtained. As far as David Hallett's claim that there was no contract, I had nothing to do with the construction process but I do know that it is illegal not to have a building contract.
Why Kerry, Judy and Peter have decided to deny my existence, is beyond me, but the story they tell is not the true one. Why the producers of this show allowed themselves to adopt the spin presented by Kerry, Judy and Peter given their knowledge of me is disappointing to say the least. It would seem reasonable to have been acknowledged by the client and my long time employee, Peter, for the contribution I made to this home.
Posted by Isabel51Report
I was very surprised watching Episode 4 Grand Designs, the Hornsby Heights House, not to hear the owners nor Pete the builder mention Andrew Minter nor give him any credit. As I was watching the show it gave me the impression that the owners designed the place with Peter's help.
I am very familiar with Andrew's remarkable work and his building method, so watching your show left me very confused.
Kind regards
Isabel Goodall
Posted by Roland3Report
We contacted Andy Minter and had Pete render our existing brick house in Avalon about 5 years ago. The render looked great for a few years but as the water penetrated it became more and more porous and started falling off. We have patch rendered with cement and then painted over to try to stabilise the finish but had no real success. It seems we will have to remove the mud completely and revert to a cement render finish which is very disappointing. We love Pete but Andy did not want to know when we highlighted the problems and like this Hornsby build there was no contract in place. Unfortunately could not recommend this form of render.