Vale Jim Masterton: Building industry great leaves lasting legacy

An innovator and pioneer of the Australian building industry, Jim Masterton, has died at the age of 93.

The late Jim Masterton pictured in 1989 with three building excellence awards.
The late Jim Masterton pictured in 1989 with three building excellence awards. (Image source: Masterton Group)

The founder of the Masterton Group and icon in the Australian home building industry, Jim Masterton, has died at the age of 92.

A pioneer of the Australian building industry, Mr Masterton founded the company that bears his name 60 years ago.

The result was a building empire that has delivered 60,000 homes to families across New South Wales.

Jim Masterton

Described as the most awarded builder in Australia, arguably the career pinnacle came with his recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2005 as recipient of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). The award singled out “his significant contribution to the housing industry and the impact he has had on so many lives”.

He was also awarded Life Member Status by the Housing Industry of Australia (HIA).

Many in NSW will recall his advertising slogan, ‘I’m Jim Masterton and I wouldn't have it any other way.’

A statement by the company said the iconic ad slogan summed up his life-long values of quality home building and the importance of family and helped to establish him as a legend in Australian housing industry.

“He was a true icon and achieved more in his lifetime than most men would over dozens of lifetimes,” the company said.

“He provided incomes and business opportunities for thousands of people, who all have nothing but extreme praise and accolades and he is held in the highest regard,” the statement read.

The Masterton Group still employs hundreds of full-time staff and contractors.

Mr Masterton formally retired from the business around 10 years ago. The company said there will be no visible change to the day to day running of the group businesses, including Masterton, New Living Homes and New Edge Homes businesses.

Innovator and visionary

Mr Masterton is credited with inventing the rib-raft slab for residential housing with special side brackets to allow dropped edge beams (a system still used today) and was the first to prefabricate house frames and deliver to site.

Jim Masterton and his Awards

One of his biggest achievements was to open the Warwick Farm Field of Dreams display village in 1983, displaying a raft of Masterton homes designed for the modern family. The display centre is still one of the most visited display home villages in NSW.

The company said he was understandably proud of his achievements and quoted him as saying, “When I started out, I just wanted to make it possible for ordinary people to build their own home and so we had to invent ways to make it affordable and easy.

“I’m a family man and have a firm understanding of how important the dream of owning a home can be.

“I’m really proud of the way Masterton has weathered the highs and lows in the building industry through responsible and experienced management and the fact it’s still a solid, family owned and run Australian business.”

Mr Masterton was born on 13 December 1931 and died on 16 November 2022 and is survived by his wife Marjorie Masterton, his children David, Steve and Susan, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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