House Of The Week
Jackie Levy had reluctantly resigned to buying an existing home and making it fit the family needs when she and husband Keith retired to Wellington from their rural Wairarapa base.
Eastbourne was her preferred location and, after monitoring options over nearly five years, she thought buying a home not building one was her only option. But then she happened upon a rare section.
"It was part of an old garden and we looked at it in all weathers and all conditions. It's at the bottom of the hill with really no view of the sea and a shared driveway, but we did notice it had a microclimate."
The couple picked architect Hugh Tennent for the build, he'd designed Jackie's sister's home which they love, and they knew that the client/architect relationship had been superb.
The land and situation determined what could be built, but the couple's criteria was uncomplicated. They wanted three bedrooms with at least one at ground level, and all within budget (the accountant owner was watching the figures).
Hugh Tennent has delivered an energy-efficient, easy-to-live-in, comfortable, light, spacious, and easy-to-clean home; a place where the third bedroom doubles as an office for Keith and a sleepover space for grandchildren. The master bedroom is upstairs with ensuite, and in winter, when surrounding trees are denuded, it has a view of the sea. There is a second master bedroom and ensuite on ground level, a guest bathroom and separate laundry.
While some trees were removed, a pair of aged kowhais and a ragged but much-treasured kauri were retained, with the build working around the three trees.
A clever canopy enables the Levys to walk into their home from their drive under protection from the build; and a glorious outdoor entertaining area has been maximised by a high fence. "It's a real architectural feature," says Jackie. "It gives us total privacy, but the timber is angled so we get a vista but people can't see in."
Aggregate, lawns, small plantings, two tiny-but-highly-productive vegetable plots, citrus trees and a backdrop of exquisite established natives and exotics cover the section. An unexpected bonus that comes with the build is its microclimate, with surrounds of bush and birdsong.
"The house is small and simple," says Jackie. There's an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space that looks out to the garden. "And we get maximum sun," she adds, "In fact, I have to manage the sun with blinds."
"Its an easy living house that we can lock up and leave to go off and travel, yet its so close to the city and bush walks, Keith even goes out fishing and gets the odd fish when it's a nice day."
Size: 195 sq.m
Materials: Concrete block & flooring, plywood, cedar, iron roofing.
Energy efficiency: Passive heating through concrete, heat pumps heat hot water and under floor, double glazing.
Architect: Tennent + Brown Architects Ltd.
Done right: The whole design, so appropriate for the setting and us.
Done wrong: Concrete flooring, we were warned it would crack and it has.
Unexpected: The fence, not part of the brief, but it's fabulous and so clever.
Recommend: The whole maintenance-free aspect of building with aluminum joinery.
Next time: Maybe a wooden floor.
- © Fairfax NZ News