House of the week: Waipu Cove

Last updated 05:00 27/02/2013

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A lot of thought went into this weekend getaway at Waipu, Northland, which was built to ultimately be a permanent family home.

The owners wanted to maximise views of their exquisite bush setting among mature rimu and kauri while minimising environmental disruption. After purchasing the six-hectare block they built a garage with a loft, allowing themselves time to contemplate the larger build.

Whangarei architect Ron Esveld was commissioned to design a dwelling on different levels to suit the slope of the land. It had to rise above the trees to catch the sunlight and be linked by decks to the existing building.

"Incorporating elements of the garage and loft, the design had to retain trees where possible, compliment the surrounding bush and include sustainable and recyclable elements," Esveld says.

The main floor had to be set at the existing deck level, enabling space below for basement level living, and the owners wanted a link from the loft to the upper level of the new house.

Entry is along timber decks with balustrading similar to the swimming pool fence fixed between timber poles "echoing the verticality of the surrounding trees", says Esveld.

The kitchen-dining-living area faces north, a bathroom and stairs go up to the south. The basement includes a studio, office, guest bedroom and cellar space. Basement rooms open onto recycled block paving salvaged from construction offcuts. Upstairs is a large bed-sit area with a balcony facing west overlooking kauri trees.

Nine rimu trees removed for construction were milled and feature in the house as substantial exposed beams.

At basement level concrete flooring has been polished, on the other levels flooring is from recycled T&G rimu.

Services follow sustainability principles, with a wood-burning fireplace and oven. Hot water is delivered using solar power and rainwater piped to an underground tank.

The owners say an excellent contractor has delivered a high quality construction, which brings glimpses of light and trees into all areas of the house. Fittings and furnishings reflect the owners' interests in recycled furniture, textiles and artwork.

"For many Kiwis escape is often to the beach,  but for this couple it is to The Trees, a dwelling that is part of this stunning environment, in turn enhanced by their regeneration project," says Esveld. 


Build cost: $650,000

Size: 250 sq.m

Architect: Ron Eskveld

Materials: Coloursteel, cedar joinery, recycled native T&G floors, plywood walls.

Energy Efficiency: Thermal gain from insulated concrete floor and block base, double glazing, all cavities filled with wool insulation well above minimum requirements.

Done Right: Getting the setting right was the most time-consuming part of the process, making sure the house would have views from each window onto bush but also ensuring the structure didn't interfere with the scenery.

Done Wrong: One owner thinks the build is bigger than required.

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Unexpected: The talents of the builders, the standard of their joinery and the high quality finish.

Recommended: Take your time to enjoy the site first before you build, get the angles of the sun and views in the build as you want.

Next time: I don't imagine there'll be a next time but if, there was I'd do it all again the same way.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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