The New Generation: How Christou Homes are continuing the family building legacy
Growing up with his father, two uncles, and cousin in the building industry, Mark Christou and his business partner and wife, Debbie, will be taking the family name into the future of building.
The first thing you notice when you speak to Mark and Debbie Christou is their sense of fun, and passion for what they do. Building runs in the blood and this is what Christou Homes mission centres on – building quality custom homes for every kind of family.
The decision to be a builder
Like many teenagers in their final years of high school, Mark found himself undecided about which career path to choose. It was at the end of year twelve that he started to think about building. “My dad started his building business in the seventies, so I grew up on sites amongst timber and bricks. There was something exciting about seeing homes being built, so I thought, ‘Why not give this a crack myself?’ And I never looked back.”
How did you start your business?
“My plan was to progress from being a carpenter to a builder, so I knew it was worth staying at school to fast track the process. I was seventeen when I started my carpentry apprenticeship, and because I’d finished year twelve, I was able to start studying for my building license as a second-year apprentice. When I completed the fourth year of my apprenticeship, I was a qualified carpenter, I had completed the theory side of the Builder course and only needing an additional two years of experience to gain my builder’s license.”
Armed with his full qualifications and new knowledge, Mark set about starting his own business, and Christou Homes was established. He understands that it can be hard to start a career, especially in today’s economic conditions. “It’s so important that young people grasp the details and requirements when it comes to gaining the qualifications that they need to become a builder, and what they can, and can’t, do with the process to get there,” says Mark. “It can be tough, but when you have a vision and you know the best way to get there, it’s so rewarding.”
What are the things you learned from your father that you bring into the Christou Homes business today?
“It’s the commitment to the quality of work we do – from start to finish,” explains Mark. “I’ve been brought up to do the best work I can do, and that’s what each of the team at Christou Homes embraces. We take pride in what we do collectively because we want to build the best custom homes we can for our clients. We use the best materials and building methods to ensure the homes we build are top quality.”
And it’s not only the work – Christou Homes is committed to dealing with clients on a personal level. “Whether it’s building for a family with teenagers, or a couple who are downsizing, we see that it’s our job to give our clients a home they love,” says Debbie.
Quality finishes and excellent workmanship are the hallmarks of every Christou Homes project. “We have the same teams work right through on every single job,” says Mark. “It’s this commitment that’s allowed me to build a great culture. Our company believes in good quality jobs, good value for money, and delivering an experience our clients love. As custom home builders, we are able to deliver that, and we see it as our responsibility to make our clients feel valued the whole way through their building journey. They’re making a huge financial and emotional investment in us, and we want to uphold our part of it.”
Mark dedicates his personal attention to each of Christou Homes’ clients. All of them have his personal mobile number so they can discuss every aspect of the project. “Communicating with clients in this way brings the personal touch, and clients get to know their team and build relationships with the people working on their home. It gives our clients a sense of security knowing that their home will be built the right way.”
What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Staying on top of tough times is something that drives Mark and Debbie, and they harness discipline and proactivity.
Mark says that during the pandemic, materials shortages were the main risk. “So to overcome that, we stockpiled,” says Mark. “We bought a shipping container and purchased supplies when we could to continue our projects. Every time I went to the hardware stores, the shelves were empty. But when I asked the questions, I’d find the information. So 6am on a Tuesday I’d be there ready to pick up supplies.”
Labour posed a challenge too. “We had to find the right crew who shared the same values,” says Mark. “And we did. Our apprentices progressed to carpenters, and now some of them have stepped up to supervisor roles. Sharing the same values as one another makes life easier.”
Cultural fit is an important element of Christou Homes. “The guys on site are all pretty similar – good local Hawkesbury people,” says Mark.
Debbie adds, “Mark is renowned for being stopped everywhere he goes – he knows everyone, and people know about me before I even meet them! We’re proud that the Christou name carries a great legacy in the Hawkesbury area. People know people, so reputation is everything. And now we want Christou Homes to help more families build their dream homes.”
Where do you see the Australian building industry heading in the next two to three years?
“It’s a tough one,” says Mark. “With costs and supplies, as well as new building codes, it’s crucial to be adaptable. You’re continually learning, and you soon pick up along the way that flexibility is key. When you keep an open mind, a path will appear and take you along when you allow it to.”
It’s this positive attitude that makes Christou Homes a standout. Clients can come with their own design, or Christou Homes have Architects to draw up custom plans. Mark takes care of securing all required planning permits, as well as actioning approved plans. “We give clients the service they need so we can build them the quality home they will love,” says Mark.
What is the most exciting thing about building a home for someone?
“I enjoy every part of my job,” smiles Mark. “Seeing the home go up, and the walk-throughs with our clients for the first time is a privilege. So is seeing our clients’ faces at handover – it’s an honour to have their trust to build their home.”
With this passion, Mark and Debbie have what it takes to carry the Christou Homes name forward to the next generation. “It’s a legacy I want to continue for my family,” says Mark. “We have trucks and cars with the Christou name, and I’m proud of my family and of what Debbie and I are creating.”
It’s this commitment that will see Christou Homes remaining a favourite resident in the Hawkesbury area, and beyond, for generations to come.