House Of The Week
A young Canterbury couple used true lateral thinking to build an architecturally designed home on a tight budget.
First things first they sought a designer that shared their vision. "We loved the open spaces and the thousands of gum trees on our 10 acres, and we wanted a home that was unique and complimented the space rather than cluttered it."
The brief to architectural designer Greg Young was for "lots of glass and sunlight". "We'd both lived in cold villas and we wanted to always be able to see the outside," explain the couple. "Plus, it was only the two of us when we built, but we wanted to build a house that could grow with our family."
The team took their time, taking eight months to figure out the design, working out the complete three stages before embarking on stage one.
"We wanted to be constantly warm, so it always felt like summer inside. What Greg has created with the cantilever is amazing, in the summer the sun doesn't come in at all, but in the winter the sun reaches the back wall, it can be three or four degrees outside and 20 degrees inside, and that's just with an open fire."
Architect Greg Young calls the design a "staged construction, allowing for an expanding family using a modernist style, natural materials and remaining environmentally efficient."
Stage one was the studio - kitchen, living, dining (come bedroom, initially). Stage two will focus on the master bedroom and ensuite and nursery/office; while stage three will include bedrooms, garaging, laundry, bathroom and a rumpus room.
The three wings accommodate the staged construction to allow for the change of use of the studio, demountable joinery has been designed to initially separate the spaces - future links have also been allowed for with the timber wall framing. The studio has been designed as a 'tent' with the roof extending down the rear wall for protection, and the 'tent' walls open up with full height glazing.
"Structure is expressed in an honest display of strength," explains Young. "To prevent thermal overloading, a 3.3m roof overhang extends to the north, allowing sun penetration in the winter but not in the summer. Low level windows work in combination with high level windows to encourage natural ventilation. Southern service areas are enclosed in a reverse lean-to, with the roof pitched for optimal solar panel orientation. Corrugated water tanks are to be installed to provide irrigation as part of stage two."
After four years in stage one, and with a four-month-old baby now part of the family, the couple are readying for further construction, or more precisely reconstruction with addition.
The September 2010 earthquake took its toll, and engineering reports indicate there is much work to be done. "We are about 10km away from the September 2010 quake epicentre," explains owner Kim Laurenson. "So while the house didn't fall down we got a lot of movement and cracking in our house.
"Since the house is built like a boat, all steel etc, the house moved and flexed around the steel, so we now have walls that are not straight and our 1.8m pivot back door has gaps letting in the southerly air," she adds. "Our kitchen has cracks and our fireplace has warped inside the wall and our terrace has massive cracking. So as you can imagine, there are also multiple queries on the integrity of the concrete slab under our wooden flooring."
The family has now had two engineer reports done on the house, one just prior to the February 2011 earthquake, and they both deemed that the house needs to be pulled apart to some degree and put back together, with the flooring all to come up to determine the outcome/integrity of the concrete slab.
This is a feat that their $16,000 EQC settlement will unfortunately not cover. "We were paid out more from our insurance company for our terrace... it's alarming," says Laurenson.
Build Cost: Was meant to be around $300k plus services, but ended up costing over $500k.
Architect: Greg Young, Life Style Architecture
Size: 92m2 with additional 76m2 outdoor terracing
Materials: Steel, Cedar, Eurotray and Glass
Energy efficiency: Fantastic. Passive solar design in which the sun doesn't enter the internal portion of the home in summer, but does throughout winter due to the lower sun angles.
Done right: "Spending time on the design so that it could grow with our family as we needed it to. It's a warm, open and friendly house that invites you to lounge around despite the smaller spaces."
Done wrong: "Our choice of first builder. Never trust the son of someone you work with, despite hearing about how "honest and clever" they are. A year in court finished off with an apology..."
Unexpected: Having to rebuild the house halfway through due to a raft of incompetence and failings. Subsequently we had a fantastic second builder who then rebuilt the house to an outstanding level of finish and quality.
Recommend: Our second builder was Jamon Trust in Christchurch, so professional, honest and efficient. Choosing an architect who actually knows and understands your brief, Greg was spot on with all of our wants and needs.
Next time: Skip the first builder! Other than that there isn't a lot else we would change. Once all the EQC dramas are finished with we are looking forward to building the rest of our home.
- © Fairfax NZ News