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We are thrilled to announce that Manteena, in collaboration with Architects Ring & Associates and Archertec Interiors, has been awarded the MBA ACT ‘House of the Year’ for our Deakin project at the 2023 Master Builders ACT and Asset Construction Hire Building Excellence Awards.

This accolade speaks to the devotion, craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail our residential team and building partners poured into this ambitious project.

Unmatched Craftsmanship in Every Corner

A home’s soul lies in its details. Every room, corner and element in the Deakin project whispers a story of unparalleled craftsmanship. The show-stealer was undeniably the handcrafted staircase, which stands as a testament to precision, having been delivered to the millimetre. The process of creating each timber stair tread required on-site templating followed by off-site manufacturing. It is this precision that can be observed throughout every nook and cranny of the house.

From brick corbelling, intricate parapets, elegant wainscoting and detailed cornices & skirting boards; the dedication to preserving master craftsmanship is evidently felt.

Innovation and Global Inspiration

This home wasn’t just built; it was curated. The wrought-iron balustrades, painted to mirror the finish of the aluminium window frames, bring a touch of vintage elegance. In a harmonious blend of local craftsmanship and global aesthetics; chandeliers, pendants and wall lights were handpicked and sourced through the homeowner’s European connections.

Our approach to design was both aesthetic and functional. Flooring direction was meticulously planned to softly separate the rooms, allowing them to seamlessly connect. The consistent high-quality visible throughout the house was achieved through weekly team meetings, specialised workshops and creating prototypes to finalise key details.

Beyond Design: Adaptability in Focus

One of the standout features of this project was the team’s adaptability. The team capitalised on voids identified during the modelling phase. Our innovative team then transformed these spaces into practical storage drawers and introduced a laundry chute to the floor below, optimising every inch of the residence.

A Symphony of Collaboration

This project stands as a symphony of collaboration between Manteena, Architects Ring & Associates, and Archertec Interiors. The outcome? An architectural marvel of finely detailed architecture and bespoke modelling, rendering a house that’s not just a dwelling but a work of art.

We’re incredibly proud to showcase our award-winning custom-built home, valued at over $4m. Nestled in the heart of the historic Red Hill precinct, this architectural marvel stands as a testament to our commitment to design, precision and client vision.

Masterfully designed by Adam Hobill of Adam Hobill Design, the journey began in late 2018 with a humble butter paper sketch. The design brief was clear: to craft a home that exudes traditional elegance while championing connectivity to outdoor spaces, natural light, and ventilation. The site’s generous width paved the way for a symmetrical footprint, with rooms radiating off a central spine to harness natural ventilation and light.

One of the client’s core visions was an outdoor entertainment expanse that flawlessly wove the pool into the entertainment hub. This vision was brought to life impeccably, as the backyard now serves as a sanctuary for sun-soaked summer days and offers a cozy sunken fire pit retreat for winter evenings.

The team’s collaboration with the client began in early 2019. After diligently refining the design and coordination for over 12 months, the groundbreaking moment arrived in June 2020 (just before COVID shutdowns). Fast forward 21 months to May 2022, and the dream was realised—a splendid three-story residence that harmoniously complements its surroundings. As time progresses, the landscaping will further accentuate the home’s beauty, while its bitumen driveways, front fencing, hedges and piers will continue to echo the heritage of the streetscape.

A project of this magnitude owes its success to the dedication and hard work of our exceptional team. A heartfelt acknowledgment to Lewis H, Kaspar C, Anthony A, Scott P, Mitch G, Emma T, Adam P, Nick P, Barrie D, Liam K, Chris P, Jack G, Beth C, Danny A, Angus M, and Frazer B.

Project Details

Danny Agnello has been familiar with Manteena construction sites since he was a young child in the early 90s. By the age of around 14, the up-and-coming soccer prospect was cleaning sites during school holidays and on weekends.

While it may seem a natural progression for Danny to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps, this wasn’t always the intention.

How did you initially end up at Manteena?

As a kid I had been around Manteena sites and worked on and off during school holidays and weekends but it wasn’t a specific plan for me. I had been playing soccer at a representative level from about 14 and had been scouted and taken over to trial for Leeds in 1999 and then Bayern Munich a year later. We made the decision that I would stay in Australia to finish year 11 and 12, keep training with the ACT Academy of Sport and see where it went after. Unfortunately I had a car accident that changed the course a bit, even though I made the Australian School Boys team at the age of 18 and toured with them, my body just couldn’t take it anymore.

After finishing year 12, dad (Lou Agnello) asked me what I wanted to do and offered me a labouring gig at Manteena until I figured it out. In March 2002 I started as a Cadet Project Administrator through CITEA and finished that 4 years later. From there I moved on to Project Administration for Alex Luddington and Andrew Kemp, before delivering my first project as a Project Manager in 2006 (NLA offsite storage).

In 2016 I moved over to the newly established Manteena Residential as a Project Manager, became Operations Manager shortly after and here we are.

Why Construction Management/Project Management?

I’ve been around construction all my life so it makes sense. I had considered architecture for a while but my career path changed as I got older. It just ended up that way, I was a labourer on site at UC while I worked out what I wanted to do, and I never left.  

What is it like to work at Manteena?

I would say we are honest and fair in everything we do. I’ve been here for almost 22 years and a lot has changed in that time. We’ve grown, we don’t just work in Canberra anymore and the great culture has continued to get better and better.

We were lucky to have had 30 people when I started, and it was very much a small, family-run business. Now we are 130+ and based across four different businesses.

Did you always think this was an area you would end up working in?

Who knows. My whole life would be different if I ended up going over to Europe. I wouldn’t have met my wife or had my four kids so that trajectory could have changed everything.

What would you tell anyone considering a career in Project Management/Construction space?

It’s tough but it’s rewarding. You need to be able to deal with stress and communicate with everyone if you want to do well.

It’s a very diverse industry and you are never really doing the same thing twice so if you don’t like repetitive tasks it is an industry to consider.

As you head down the leafy streets of Forrest you’ll find Lewis, Curtis and Frazer, three of Manteena’s carpenters completing a new Alfresco area on a previously constructed Manteena home. The carpenters are a part of the Manteena Residential team, employed directly by Manteena and dispersed across a variety of projects in Canberra from new builds to extensions and renovations.

Lewis joined Manteena as a third year apprentice in mid 2019, Frazer came on board as a second year apprentice in early 2022 and Curtis was fully qualified when he came on board in mid 2022. It is the varying levels of experience at Manteena, and experiences outside of Manteena that make the Residential Carpentry team as diverse as it is. Now, it is your chance to join this growing team as we look to welcome a new apprentice to the team for 2023 and beyond.

Don’t take our word for it though, hear from the boys themselves about what makes working at Manteena Residential so great.

What is it like to work as a carpenter for Manteena Residential?

Lewis:    Every day is different and there is more opportunity to do different types of carpentry. You get to do everything, not just basic carpentry. Some days it is trusses and steelwork, other days it is standard carpentry or putting up a new Alfresco area.

Curtis:   We get to build and work on some of the better homes in Canberra from setting out footings through to the final clean out.

Frazer:   And the culture is good. We have a good crew, we have fun.

Lewis: We act as the middle man between the project managers and the clients a bit too. Myself and Nick step up as leading hands to help Scott out when needed so there is more opportunity and responsibility in that area as well.

Why Manteena?

Lewis: There’s a lot more opportunity than a standard builder. You can travel the world if you want to and work across other areas of the business.

Curtis:   For me it’s the satisfaction of seeing the end result and working through the whole project. And also the quality and type of jobs we work on.

What was your apprenticeship experience like with Manteena?

Frazer: Really good! I came in as a second year apprentice and the transition across was seamless. You get to work with different people and are exposed to different techniques in various stages of a job straight away.

Lewis: The team looked a bit different when I started but like Frazer I learnt a lot really quickly and was well looked after. There was definitely an opportunity to learn things quicker and with a broader scope of work.

What is your advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship In carpentry and joining Manteena?

Frazer:   It’s a good pathway to more than just a specific trade.

Curtis:   It’s very rewarding and there is greater satisfaction in the final result. Working at Manteena requires a higher focus on quality and care so you have to be prepared to invest in that.

What is the best think about working as a carpenter for Manteena?

Good people, good team, good houses.

Interested in Applying?

We have opportunities available for apprentices at various stages of their apprenticeship and fully qualified carpenters.

Contact Danny Agnello for more information, or send your resume to

It started in 2006. A 19 year old Chris Piechocki got young Steve Smith out at U19s nationals and thought he had a one way ticket to being a cricketer or golf champion for Australia.

Needless to say, the Manteena estimating cadet did not quite reach a national level of recognition on the sporting scene in 2006, or later on in life, but around Manteena and with contractors we have worked with over the last 17 years, Chris is renowned for his larrikin approach, loyalty and passion for construction.

What has your journey been with Manteena to date?

I started at Manteena in March 2006 after a gap year in North Wales. I knew the Agnello family and Lou suggested I apply for a Cadet role to give it a go and see if I liked it. I interviewed with Rod Mitton, got the job as a Cadet Estimator and never left, which has made me the longest serving Cadet at Manteena who hasn’t gone on to be a Director.

I studied my Cert II, III, IV and Diploma through the MBA and then moved on to do my Bachelor of Building Construction Management, majoring in Quantity Surveying at UC, all while working at Manteena.

I moved from Commercial to Residential in 2017 and have just moved back to Commercial as a Contracts Manager for a new challenge and change of scenery. It allows me to use my 17 year estimating skillset and feels like a natural progression to broaden my career path so I am really enjoying it so far.

Why estimating?

Originally I didn’t want to do a trade, so this allowed me to learn about multiple trades in a ‘learn it how you build it’ kind of way.

I like the problem solving and math components of the job and have built a great rapport with the subbies over the last 17 years.

How would you explain manteena’s offering and approach?

Manteena has an excellent reputation for high quality outcomes and are heavily community orientated. They have been supporting the Queanbeyan Whites for the last few years which I am pretty passionate about and it is great to see the support from Manteena in that sense.

I think we are really well known for our great relationships with our subcontractors and the way we work alongside them in project delivery.

What is it like working at Manteena?

I mean it is all I know from a career point of view but if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t still be here 17 years later. Manteena has a great family environment and I have made lifelong friends while working here. It is an incredibly supportive environment and the interaction with our directors on a daily basis is something unique that adds to the value of Manteena. Our Directors really care about the team personally and professionally which is also really important.

Did you always think estimating was where you would end up?

No. (Insert Steve Smith story and the glory of being a national sporting champion here).

I was young, playing sport and didn’t know what life entailed but I fell into it really well and kept doing it. I think it is hard to find people who enjoy doing estimating for such a long time but it made sense for me.

I think the progression into Contracts Manager is an extension of that too. I get to apply my knowledge as an estimator and work with the Bid and Project Delivery teams to take a project all the way through to completion.

What would you tell anyone considering a career in estimating

It can be viewed quite negatively so I think if you want to learn it you have to quash the negative stuff. That being said it is incredibly rewarding!

It is like a footy team, if everyone does their part it works. The price has to be right for the client and the company so there is a balance you have to find there but when it pays off its “better than LEGO”.  You have to be willing to cop a loss though. You aren’t ever going to be 100% successful and sometimes that means it isn’t for everyone.

You get to identify the risks and the opportunities for the project team to work through so you end up setting the job up for success from the very start. That being said it requires a lot of due diligence and a system that works when you are reviewing 40-50 trades for each project.

Lastly, what have been your favourite projects to date?

There have been a few! The National Arboretum Functions Facility has to be on there, it was my first win as a leading estimator.

The Lodge Refurbishment was also a really good one, and so was the Tennis Centre at Next Gen and the Chinese Embassy Indoor Swimming Pool Facility.

The Garangula Gallery is also on the list. You don’t get to do jobs like that too often.

Dominion Circuit was the first job I priced for Residential and it went on to win a Heritage Award so that is up there, along with Torres Street which has recently been completed.

Manteena have had a Carpentry Apprenticeship and Building Pathways Program for the past 3 years, creating opportunities for young apprentices to gain qualifications, understand the building process and progress into Leading Hand, Site Supervisor, Site Manager or office-based roles.

Mitch Gatenby joined the Manteena Apprentice Program in the third year of his Carpentry Apprenticeship and was named the 2022 Apprentice of the Year for MBA ACT last Friday.

Mitch’s passion for quality, high end construction is what led him to Manteena Residential 2 years ago.


Firstly, congratulations! How does it feel to be named Apprentice of the Year?

It’s an incredible honour to take it out. It’s not something I was expecting and you don’t get an apprenticeship in hopes of winning Apprentice of the Year but it means a lot to be recognised for the effort I have put in over the years.

Tell me more about your career to date. How did you get into carpentry?

I used to work at Volkswagen and I knew I wanted to do an apprenticeship and get into construction. I knew a few carpenters who put me in contact with a few builders and that’s really how it all started.

For me carpentry was the trade of choice. I wanted to get my qualifications and learn the skills around building, and client and project management within building, so it just made sense.

I worked for a couple of builders before joining Manteena and was able to learn about the different areas of carpentry and building more generally at different scales which has been invaluable. It’s been really cool to learn different skills and delivery processes as well as gain an understanding of the whole building and construction process so I’ve been pretty lucky.

What’s it like working for Manteena?

It’s the best job I have ever had. We have a really good team in Residential and everyone is really welcoming across the entire group.

Building high quality, top end homes with a focus on the finishes is what I have always wanted to do so I love it.

What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship in construction, or more specifically a career in Carpentry?

Having a trade is invaluable. There are so many areas in life where I can apply the skills I have learnt which makes it more than just a job in some ways.

There is always work available and options to move and change within the industry once you finish your apprenticeship, so you aren’t locked into just being a trade if you don’t want to be. I would highly recommend trade based apprenticeships to anyone who wants to get into the construction industry and who wants to be a builder or Site Manager someday.

Gone are the days of dreaming of the possibility of turning your lights off with a clap of your hands. Now, turning off the lights and closing the blinds is as easy as pressing a button on your phone for many households across Australia.

The next stage of smart home technology has been geared toward home automation. Everything from air conditioning, lighting, entertainment systems and energy efficiency can now be controlled from a smart phone or set up for complete automation with little to no human interaction required.

So, what exactly is Home Automation? Residential Operations Manager Danny Agnello describes it as “the system that meshes all your smart technology together. It is one platform that manages everything from lights and blinds, through to doors, audio visual systems, gates and really anything else you could think of. The possibilities are almost endless.”

Scale-wise, smart technology and home automation has become more cost effective and competitive in recent years. At a minimum, most Manteena Residential homes have lighting and blinds hooked up to a KNX system, with the option of adding additional layers if and as desired.

While there has historically been a hesitancy to adopt smart tech and home automation due to fear of being locked into a brand, a system like KNX, which operates as an open protocol platform, allows homeowners to adopt as much (or little) home automation as they like as it has thousands of available integrators. It has also become more affordable to add on additional systems once the initial set up has taken place.

“Our Residential team invest heavily in understanding home automation technology. We work with trusted partners to design and programme whole systems and it is now something we always recommend in builds as it has real value from a home operation, resale value and energy efficient point of view.”

“The systems set up on some of our recent larger scale homes in Forrest and Red Hill were really exciting for us as we were able to take the Home Automation system to a level we hadn’t worked with before. Anything and everything in these homes has been hooked up to the KNX system and can be controlled from one of the screens in the house or an app on a phone.”

“Home automation will continue to grow and evolve and we expect to continue to see an increase in its adoption. The gesture control on lights, integration with weather stations for temperature control, GPS location and sequencing set ups are really valuable integrations for a ‘smart home’ that inevitably end up increasing energy efficiency and adding another layer of security to a home.”

If you are thinking of adding home automation to your renovation or new build, Danny has these tips for you:

  1. Have a good understanding of how you want to live and the things you want to operate and automate in your home.
  2. Utilise in room sensors to turn things off after a set period of time to reduce running costs in un-occupied rooms or areas.
  3. Utilise ‘Scenes’ to automate regular activities. i.e. have an ‘all off’ scene for when leaving the house which can turn all lights off, close windows, close blinds, turn off air conditioning etc.

The most successful projects come from a great, collaborative relationship between builder, architect, contractors, consultants and clients. Fortunately for Manteena, our teams have developed fantastic, long-term relationships with a number of architects across Commercial, Security and Residential.

In the Residential space, our team has been working with Terry Ring from Architects Ring & Associates, and the wider team, since 2016 when they joined forces for a project on National Circuit.

The role of an architect is seen to be largely artistic. Terry notes his focus tends to be on the look; “I care about the look of the final product and giving the client what they have been dreaming of, while also contributing to the streetscape. Our job is to ‘design for the people’ and sell a concept, not a product.”

Working collaboratively and having input from the architect and the builders from the beginning has made the process far more seamless for Architects Ring & Associates and Manteena, with high quality outcomes which helped win 2021 Home of the Year with Tennyson Crescent.

“When you have the engineer, architect, builder, client and interior designer all in the one room you balance each other out and all problems can be addressed straight away, whether it is from a cost, buildability or design perspective. We love being involved from the ‘ground floor’ (straight off the bat) and have had great outcomes when engaged from the initial concept phase. The differing perspectives available when we work collaboratively as a project team always provide the best outcomes for the client,” says Residential Operations Manager Danny Agnello.

The Synergy between Manteena and Architects Ring & Associates is clear in their ability to produce outstanding homes that exceed client’s expectations, with a balance of incredible design, buildability and budget management.

“Our strengths balance each other’s weaknesses,” says Terry. “The Residential team are excellent with managing the client budget and finding solutions to a concept that fit into an overall budget. Home design is incredibly personal, there is so much angst and it is really important that we understand and acknowledge the amount of emotional investment that goes into creating these homes. Danny [Manteena] has a great eye and understands and buys into the overall vision of a design which is incredibly helpful in managing the budget and delivering a beautifully designed and functional home.”

When asked why Terry enjoys working with Danny, Scott and the Residential team so much, he mentions “the quality of Manteena’s product, and the communication, professionalism and loyalty that Manteena possess. The team are problem solvers and I have huge admiration for their determination to succeed in the residential space.”

In asking Danny the same question about Terry and the Architects Ring & Associates team, Danny references “the collaborative nature of Terry and the way he is always approachable and open to working through problem solving solutions together. He is so incredibly passionate about what he does and that is what makes him an excellent architect. We have a great relationship built on trust and it makes the process really enjoyable for all of us.”

As for what’s to come, you’ll have to wait and see as Manteena Residential and Architects Ring & Associates continue to work together on designing and building high quality, luxury homes for our clients.

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but with new technology being embedded in appliances, and colours and styles changing all the time, how do you keep up?

We had a chat to our long-term interior design partners, Dept. of Design on what we’re expecting to see coming into our kitchens in 2023.


According to the Dept. of Design team, green is going to be the standout colour of 2023 and not just in small pops. It will be a bold statement complemented by soft neutrals.

“We are seeing more solid colour in kitchen joinery with green being popular, especially when paired with earthy and warm neutral tones. There are fewer selections of cool tones such grey and bright whites for kitchens as palettes move away from high contrast black and white to softer muted colours with a focus of texture.”

Why? Green is a palatable colour that is relatively neutral, whether it is a deep pine or a soft pale eucalyptus green, it doesn’t draw on any particular emotion, creating versatility without committing to a palette that can’t be refreshed.

Natural Stone & Porcelain Sheet

Natural stone has become increasingly popular as each slab offers a unique texture, pattern and colours, and with more cost effective alternatives to classic marbles and granites, natural stone is now accessible to all budgets.

Slimmer benchtops are also starting to increase in popularity due to the development of porcelain slabs, providing a durable textured alternative to resin and quartz based stones, porcelain provides a durable alternative.


With a focus on soft muted tones, texture becomes an important layer in the kitchen palette. The use of natural stone with a honed, leathered or polished finish can change the overall feel, making the benchtop more tactile and welcoming.

Handmade tiles with rough edges and uneven glazes will catch the light and mixing metals will create interest and add warmth.

Adding texture is relatively easy to do and will refresh a renovation or take your new build to the next level.

“Honed, leathered, polished handmade and organic layers are really popular. People are starting to look for new ways to make an impact and Adding texture is something that is relatively easy to do to update and refresh a kitchen, or take it to the next level in a new build.”


In continuing the break away from all white kitchens, timber is making a comeback.

It pairs beautifully with neutral tones and can be adopted in flooring, joinery and benchtops in varying scales to suit personal design preferences.


“Engineered timber, vinyl planks and concrete are still the most popular choices. However, we are also seeing a re-emerging trend for large format tiles.”

What’s In?

Handles are back!

Induction cooktops continue to increase in popularity and are likely to become the new normal very soon.

Steam ovens are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a fresh, clean healthy cooking alternative to microwaves and are ideal for your home baked sour dough and Sunday roast.

Integrated appliances such as fridges and filtered water taps are always a valued addition and provide a clean line to the joinery.

Say goodbye to your overhead rangehoods, downdrafts are IN! Cooktops in your island bench are also becoming on-trend.

What’s Out?

You heard it here first, multiple pendants over your island bench, and kitchen sinks in your island bench are officially out!

“We are also seeing less cabinetry included in main kitchens with more storage and prep areas being integrated into the pantry.”


Come and join our NAWIC award winning women—Sarah and Jess—who were recently recognised as Construction Businesswoman of the Year & Emerging Leader, respectively, by the National Association of Women in Construction – ACT Chapter.

We are currently seeking experienced construction professionals to join our team and fill a number of roles for an exciting pipeline of new head contractor works in Canberra.

The roles include:

More information about the roles will be posted shortly, however if you wish to jump ahead of the queue then contact Sascha Eves, HR Manager, Email: to initiate a discussion about any of these opportunities.



Master Builders Australia “Large Commercial Construction Business of the Year 2022” & Housing Industry Association “National Residential Builder of the Year 2021”.