House of the week: Plimmerton

Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
manny quinn
MODEL HOUSEKEEPER: 'Manny Quinn' is a favourite with passers-by.

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Porirua City Council has some of the highest rates in New Zealand but for real estate professional Lizzy Quinn it also has some of the best seaside land.

When she bought across the road from the beach at Plimmerton her renovation plan included provision for income to pay the rates.

The house was an original two-storey family home with land behind - a rarity along the Plimmerton village beachfront.

Quinn's vision was to create a rental at ground level for income to cover the rates and a home that would suit her in retirement on the first floor.

"I lived in one room with the microwave on a bench while the builders rebuilt from the outside in," she said.

"They had to remove all the exterior cladding. It was asbestos tiles. The house was an original 1950s build and it hadn't been touched. I replaced every one of the 17 windows, redid the walls, fully insulated and soundproofed the ceilings, walls and floors.

"It took six months from start to completion."

The original three-bedroom family home is now two apartments.

The second-storey apartment where Quinn lives has huge views out over the rocky foreshore, across Hongoeka Bay to Mana Island, the South Island and the horizon. The views are framed in the northwest by the cliffs above Hongoeka Bay and to the south by the cliffs of Porirua's Whitirea Park.

Each apartment has a similar layout: two bedrooms, a substantial and very modern bathroom, open plan living-dining and a kitchen with masses of windows.

"The windows all have special strengthened 10 millimetre thick glass because of the exposed situation. It's not double glazed but it's specially made for these conditions."

Quinn had hoped to have the matai flooring polished, but the council would not allow it, so the floors are carpeted with wood in the kitchen and tiles in service areas.

The top apartment is 78 square metres and the lower 70 sq m, with room at ground level for a garage.

When Quinn purchased the property there was a glasshouse at the back, which she has retained. She entertains her grandchildren and guests, for tea parties amidst gardenias, white roses and a mass of geraniums in her perfumed glasshouse garden.

Her kitchen has a pair of stainless steel benches with a feature stone-clad wall below one bench.

"The stones on the beach across the road go black depending on the weather, they are beautiful, I wanted to bring that design and colour inside. "

The living space is painted alabaster white. Quinn tried to save money by painting over the original wallpaper, but in the end ripped the walls out and regibbed with insulation and soundproofing.

"In retrospect it would have been much cheaper and easier to bowl the place but I wanted to retain the 1950s family home. A lot of people in the area knew the house and the old chap who lived in it, so I knew it had significance to the local people."

The apartment is well known for Quinn's "flatmate", mannequin Manny Quinn, who resides in the front room gazing out to sea, dressed according to the occasion. This is a "flatmate" with history.

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"I had a friend with a bridal salon. She was taking one of her models to the tip because it had two left arms and a bruised nose.

"I took it home, named her Genevieve, put her in the bathroom and she became my towel rack. I put a towel around her head and one on each left arm and called her my French maid."

Genevieve moved with Quinn to Plimmerton and clad in a grass skirt, coconut shell bra and pink and red leis stood next to the spa pool looking out to sea.

"I actually had to tie her down round the legs with a rope because of the wind," Quinn recalls.

But Genevieve disappeared and despite reporting her missing (Quinn said there was much discussion about whether to report her as a missing person or stolen property), she was never recovered.

Friends found a replacement, Manny Quinn, who in her years of residence at seaside Plimmerton has gathered many admirers of her fashion prowess.


Renovation cost: $240,000

Architect: Grant Baxter, Online Onboard

Build size: 160 sq m

Materials: 12mm marine ply with stainless steel fastenings cladding, Sto plaster finish, Resene X200 paint, long run galvanized roof, aluminum windows, hush glass.

Energy efficiency: Batts under, over, and in internal walls and between apartments, plus extra soundproofing and extra soundproof underlay.

Done right: Opening up all the ex-state house windows to create large windows and capture the views

Done wrong: It was renovated before double glazing (2002). The house is very hot, but double glazing would assist with noise reduction. The sea is noisy at times.

Unexpected: The cost of the renovation. It was a little higher than expected at the time, although it was reasonably priced

Recommend: Source loads of home and garden magazines for ideas. My best tip is to start a scrapbook of ideas you like and give it to your architect.

Next time: There will not be a next time.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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