How Cyclone Marcia changed the lives of these three men

FROM the wrath of Cyclone Marcia rose the business idea of three Yeppoon men, which is making the ecological housing market "sexy".

Harley Weston with brothers James and Paul McElhenny are the brains behind Solaire Properties, a luxury development company winning awards and breaking records.

Harley and Paul had been friends since high school but didn't think about going into business until they got talking on the building site.

Paul was fixing Harley's Yeppoon home after it was damaged in the cyclone and they floated the idea of doing business together.

The next year, in 2016, the discussion had become a reality as Harley, Paul and James launched Solaire Properties in Brisbane.

"We probably spent about six months or so trying to come up with a strategy to work out how to do it," Harley said.

From a fourth generation Capricorn Coast building family, who run McElhenny Construction, Paul and James were running their own company ARP Building Group in the southeast.

When Harley moved down, the trio joined the companies together uniting their path to a more environmentally friendly approach to the building industry.

"It came down to energy, sustainability and a high-end feel," he said.

"We are trying to put a bit of sexy into sustainability and try to influence the influencers."

When making decisions, the environment is at the forefront of their mind - before the cyclone hit, Harley had just finished a 13-year career working for a drilling company in the mines.

"Coming out of the mining industry I wouldn't be part of anything that wouldn't be sustainable," he said.

With building backgrounds, James and Paul had seen enough materials go to waste and the trio became determined to make a change.

"We are doing things that no one has done before," he said.

"We are debunking those myths that you can't make luxury homes environmentally friendly."

The trio are focused on building passive houses, which are designed to maintain a consistent temperature of 23 degrees and require little energy from cooling or heating.

Their homes hold the titles for Australia's largest architectural houses with full passive house cerifications.

In addition to considering the best position of a property based on prevailing winds and protection from the westerly sun, recycling is also at the forefront of their mind.

They carefully take apart houses and repurpose, sell or donate the contents of the home in a condition to be recycled.

In the latest house they're working on, they've salvaged windows, a kitchen and wood from the walls of a sauna, which will be used in other projects.

"We have passion for the environment, focus on industry change and focus on innovation," Harley said.

Their Yeppoon upbringing is one of the influences fuelling the business as they change the Brisbane housing market with thoughts of the "leafy green" coastal town in their minds.

The trio have completed three multimillion-dollar homes, which have broken street records and two more houses are undergoing construction.

Harley says they "aren't here to participate, we were definitely keen to dominate".

And dominate they have - the trio won the 2019 Master Builders Excellence in Sustainable Living Award, are finalists for two Brisbane Lord Mayor's Business Awards and were short-listed nominees for The Urban Developer Awards.

Despite dealing with their ever-growing business, when it comes to "crunch time" you'll find the three "best mates" all hands on at the site determined to the cause.

The company donates $10,000 from each property sold to one of five environmental charities committed to responsible living.



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