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Building a ‘House of Respite’ for Families Affected by Autism and Cerebral Palsy

Living Without Limits Foundation (LWL) is an incredibly worthy charity with in-depth knowledge of some of  the toughest challenges faced by South Australian families. For those parents or primary caregivers looking after children affected by Autism or Cerebral Palsy, it’s “hard yards – for life,” according to the not-for-profit, which was established in 2012.

For the majority of these families, there is simply no respite. They have little to no break from their 24/7 around-the-clock caring role and limited time (or money) for a holiday. Sarah Constructions wanted to help change that.

Building the ‘House of Respite’ team

Steve Maras, Co-Founder and Vice Chair of LWL, is also President of the Property Council. He said, “We found through our journey that the money people spend on therapy for their children often means there’s little left for anything else, let alone a holiday. 

“It’s so important for families to have a break and re-connect, especially with their other children, and this is exactly what we wanted to offer them in the form of a ‘House of Respite’.” 

As Vice President of the Property Council, Chief Executive Officer Adrian Esplin became aware of the opportunity to offer the company’s services in support of the good cause. “It was an easy decision to make,” he said. “At Sarah Constructions, we live and work by our values, one of which is to put people first. Not only did getting involved in the House of Respite mean we could help South Australian families in need, but it also gave us an opportunity to give our graduates valuable hands-on construction experience working for a valuable cause.”

With Adrian Esplin on board, it was time to assemble the team that was going to bring the ‘House of Respite’ to fruition. Operations Manager, Terry Tsapaliaris, followed by Construction Manager Salem Tredrea, who manages the Graduate Program at Sarah Constructions, saw the project as the ideal opportunity for graduate involvement. Michael Kilmartin, Design Manager at Sarah, said, “It’s been a great opportunity for our graduates, not only to give back but also to be involved in a front-line, hands-on, construction project. They have all thrived throughout the process. It’s given them greater autonomy and exposure to the entire build process.”

Donations of time, expertise and goodwill

From May of this year, Michael Kilmartin has been heavily involved. The House of Respite will be professionally serviced, managed and maintained by Novita, one of the State’s leading providers of disability services; they provided the project brief. 

“Novita provided us with a brief around what they thought would be the ideal result. I then went through Sarah’s detailed design review process, as I would for any client. The graduates got involved in the procurement process, engaging the trades and negotiating what could be donated,” he said.

“Some materials had to be bought but a lot of the trades’ time and all of Sarah’s time was donated.”  

Nick Palmato is one of the graduates involved in the project. He said, “It feels great to be able to give back to the community and support such a fantastic and worthy cause – not only through the donation of Sarah’s time but also by leveraging the strong relationships we have within the construction industry to ensure we can add as much value to this project as possible, ensuring Living Without Limits gets the best result.

“Since our initial visit, Sarah has taken on the role of driving the conceptual design process, acquiring development approvals, actively seeking out further support and donations from the industry and coordination of the building process through to handover.” The house, which is being built on a block of land in Goolwa, is set to open in December in time for the Christmas break.

To ensure the house provides a safe, relaxing space for children with physical access needs, specific and detailed plans were developed. Chydem Ayik, an integral part of the Sarah team, was tasked with the responsibility of developing the house plans, in consultation with LWL. “Extensive documentation that included drawings of every component, detail and selection was developed in order to meet the significant compliance requirements for the house. This allowed the graduates on the job to have a very clear understanding of the compliance requirements for the build.”

Investing in the community and in Sarah’s people

By supporting LWL and its service users, Sarah Constructions is also developing community-minded, solutions-focused construction professionals of the future with invaluable, hands-on experience.

Graduate Nick Palmato explained that, by being given responsibility to drive the project and make it their own, the graduates have been able to learn valuable lessons. Graduates have learned first hand the importance of the design phase, cost management and procurement, through to onsite collaboration with subcontractors and consultants to identify and implement creative solutions to the challenges they have faced. “This process has driven my own professional development,” he said, “and prepared me well for the next step in my career.”

For LWL and the hundreds of South Australian families that will benefit from the House of Respite every year, the support of Sarah Constructions and all of the involved trades has been gratefully received. “If it wasn’t for the support of Sarah, and all the superb trades and suppliers, this project would still be sitting on the drawing board,” said Steve Maras.  

“We are absolutely thrilled with the support of Sarah. They have been truly magnificent and it’s been a pleasure to work with their passionate and dedicated team to get this all-important project off the ground.”

To find out more about the House of Respite, follow Living Without Limits Foundation on Facebook

 We would like to expressly thank the following wonderful contributors to this project: Revolution Roofing/ Nexteel, International Ceramics, Maka Plasterboard, Supaloc, Proform, Glow Heating and Cooling, Chris Henderson Electrical, LA Concrete, Drew Rudd Engineering, Bluescope, Next Gen Flooring, Advanced All Energy, SA Commercial Blinds, Hindmarsh Plumbing, Filips Roller Doors, Bianco Reinforcing, Aluco, USG Boral, ADX, PGH Bricks and Pavers, Spence Doors, Fletcher Insulation, G and G Tiling, Astec Paints, Harvey Norman Commercial, Adelaide Marble Specialists, Direct Mix, Chris Hart Earthworks, Roofmax, Dulux, Katnich Dodd, Priority Earthworks, South Coast Excavations, Ranieri Bricklaying and Developer Direct Online.

Sarah Contributors:

  • Sarah Graduates (Nick Palmato, Elvio Sinopoli, Paul Schultz, Matt Grimwade, Tyson Rogers, Luke Barbon, Paul Constantine)
  • Salem Tredrea/Terry Tsapaliaris (Project Management)
  • Steve Blackmore (Site supervision/Management)
  • Ian McKnight (Site supervision/ Management)
  • Bill Stevenson (Site Assistance – Services)
  • Dave Hiley (Site supervision/ civil works management)
  • Dena Van Zyl  (Safety/QHSE)
  • Emily Lawson  (Safety/QHSE)
  • Chydem Ayik (Design and Project Development)
  • Michael Kilmartin (Design and Project Development)
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