House of the week: Dannevirke

Last updated 05:00 14/11/2012

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Vision and commitment have seen a Dannevirke couple turn part of the town's old hospital into a delightful family home.

Hoss and Heather Pedersen had long appreciated the grounds and trees of Dannevirke Hospital, which was positioned above the township. When the hospital was decommissioned, the land developed and buildings put to the market, they looked at the laboratory as a conversion project.

 "It didn't feel right, I got a weird feeling from the building, but the real estate agent had left us the keys, so we looked at the tutorial block and as soon as I walked in I knew it had a lovely feel," Heather says.

They could see beyond the grotty green felt carpet, huge ablution block and classrooms to the potential of the 1959 structure. After initially commissioning a local architect to provide a few guidelines, the Pedersens took control of the project themselves.

"Hoss gutted the whole interior," Heather says. "We recycled the bats but he ripped all the interior wall linings out and pulled that awful green felt carpet up. Underneath we discovered the most fantastic matai flooring."

 The exterior dimensions of the building remain the same other, apart from the addition of a large double garage with laundry and workshop. The original stucco cladding has been retained and embellished with large native timber beams as features.

On the inside, they have created a very liveable home. An open plan living, dining and kitchen area flows to an outdoor patio overlooking the garden and beyond, to a shared tennis court and huge swimming pool.

 A scullery adjoins the kitchen, with sink, fridge and expansive food storage. A separate games room has the original teaching blackboard on the wall, kept as an historic memento. There are four large bedrooms, each with a radiator, part of the original tutorial block heating system.

Heather says the family is 'ruined' by the heating and warmth of the home, which she reckons would be hard to achieve in a new build. The master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and large walk-in dressing room, both part of the old ablution area. The kids' bathroom is through the wall from the ensuite bathroom, making use of existing piping that serviced the original ablution block. A further guest toilet and hand basin have been added in a specially built room off the hall.

 "There were probably about three or four toilets plus hand basins, so the area worked well in size to convert to two bathrooms," says Heather.

 Lighting accentuates the dramatic dimensions of the long and wide hallway. The change in hall width, where space was taken for bathrooms, is highlighted by painted vertical stripes.

Huge bridge supports have been used inside for structural support where walls were removed to create open plan space. They're a feature, reflected outside with similar posts on the patio.

Since moving in and having had the time to entertain, Heather laughs at the surprising number of people who tell her they had lessons in the tutorial block. And she is amused at the tales that have emerged, the sort of yarns shared over a few drinks around the table of the old hospital structure that's made such a delightful family home. 

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Renovation cost: $350-$400,000

Architect: Alex Dickie/Mary Hill (kitchen) and the Pedersens.

Build size: 360 sq metres.

Materials: Existing stucco exterior, iron roof, wooden internal flooring.

Energy efficiency: Original tutorial block radiators.

Done right: We are still extremely happy with everything.

Done wrong: Nothing!

Unexpected: The smallest unexpected thing was the wrong smartwood handles turning up - soon changed and not a big deal.

Recommend: Getting a great kitchen designer to design the most important room in the house.

Next Time: Work with the same tradesmen again as they were so reliable and completed the work to the highest standard.


- © Fairfax NZ News


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