House of the week: Lakehouse

Last updated 05:00 06/11/2013

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When the Wickman family were looking for a lifestyle property she was thinking horses and grass, he was thinking boats and water.

The compromise was a two-hectare lake within a 3.6ha block in rural Coatesville about 30 kilometres northwest of Auckland.

Over 14 years the Wickmans have transformed the original reservoir and surrounds that the real estate agent said no-one wanted into an amazing boatshed home that is partly over the water, and boasts a huge jetty and decks, their own private lake and park-like lawns.

It's inspiring, the style of living most head to the islands to enjoy, the sound of water gently lapping beneath. On a windy wintery day, the lake water whips up, pelting the windows: freshwater in its fury.

It's even a paradise for family pets, Mr Clippy, daughter Jade's tame eel hovers at deck's edge, and Gem the dog windsurfs the lake with eldest daughter Taylor.

It's a perfect existence, and the vision of Lance and Toni, who dared to imagine, saw a paradise where others saw an irrigation reservoir.

It started when their dream was translated into working plans by architectural designer Russell Pinel.

They had the first stage built to a shell and did the finishing themselves: the project has proceeded, only slightly interrupted by a two-year tour of duty in Mauritius, where the two daughters had their love of water and boating reconfirmed.

Today the home is substantial, a series of boathouses in a row. At one end is a luxury guest stay, offered online as "Boathouse Row".

"Following my career as an Air New Zealand international cabin crew member working in first and business class, hosting guests in luxury accommodation is really much the same," Toni says.

In the middle is a pavilion that is glassed to look out at the lake and lawns; while adjoining there is a lounge, dining and kitchen and four family bedrooms.

Beyond the boathouses are the garage and Lance's loft office, designed to look like boat clubrooms.

"Our brief was New York loft meets New Zealand boathouse. Really, my dream and passion is architecture and design and this is a little of the result."

Daughter Taylor already has a new dream for the space: her own personal "TayPod" down the lake that is away from the family. Funding her own boatshed dream is a work in progress for this first-year design student.


Build Cost: $2,800 per square metre

Size: 660sqm including house, workshop and three-car garaging; plus 150sqm decking.

Architectural Designer: Russell Pinel, of La Vallette Architecture.

Materials: Treated timber framing on a concrete and tilt slab base. Painted timber weatherboards. Long-run iron roofing. Aluminium joinery with traditional timber sills. Cedar doors and shutters. Copper guttering.

Energy Efficiency: Perfect orientation for east, north and west sun in the kitchen/family area, and the Guest Suite. Over specification for exterior and ceiling insulation. Wetback hot water which is also set up for solar panel hot water. Huge passive solar gain in west-facing concrete slabs in conservatory and gallery. Underfloor bathroom heating.

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Done right: "Architectural design to capture the boathouse theme," Toni explains. 

Done wrong: "After living in the house for 12 years there is nothing that we would change."

Unexpected: "The way the sunlight reflects off the water onto the ceiling creating dappled moving shadows. The sound of the waves lapping when there is a gentle breeze and the windows are open, especially gorgeous when you are drifting off to sleep."

Next Time: "The kids are adamant that there will be no next time as they love it here so much, and they have a point, how often do you get the chance to buy your own lake?"  

- © Fairfax NZ News


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