House of the week: Fendalton

Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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In a home that's both fresh and functional, even the flooring was chosen for practical reasons: it matches the dog's coat.

This award-winning Fendalton property was, at first, a reluctant earthquake rebuild. Originally a Hethcote Helmore villa, it had been renovated just four years before the September 2010 earthquake .

The husband and wife owners, who opted to remain anonymous for this story, said it was sad to see their old house go.

"We did love it, it had great character," the husband said. "Neither of us had any desire to have a new house."

After looking to buy, they decided to stay put. Their daughter was at a nearby school, and they enjoyed the location and their neighbours.

Architect Michael Idiens got to work, and helped create an improved version of the cherished family home.

"He did an amazing job. He's a good personal friend of ours."

Idiens designed a two-storey house as requested, but also created a single-floor plan, and the couple loved the latter as soon as he pulled it from his briefcase.

"It turned out he knew us better than we expected."

Idiens also knew how to make the most of the sunny section. With a footprint similar to the original, every room is in the same place as before, but with bigger sliders, more windows, higher ceilings, and an attached garage.

It's described as an all-season house. During winter, with blinds drawn the fire warms and lightens the living room with its glow, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are toasty thanks to underfloor heating and two heat pumps. Scorching summer days are made bearable with air conditioning.

The extra high stud in the living areas and hallways give an incredible feeling of space. The open-plan design, which extends outdoors to the patio, and beyond that, the lawn and pool, means the house can comfortably host a party of more than 100.

Most of the time, however, it's just the three of them. Plus their golden retriever, Riley, the one who dictated the pale oak flooring.

Despite initial grief, the family said Idiens and Mike Greer builders produced an "awesome" outcome with minimum stress. Completed around Christmas 2012, it was one of the first rebuilt houses in Christchurch.

"It's not often you get the chance to replace old with new in the same format. When we shifted in, it felt like home straight away. Our friends mention how it feels familiar, comfortable, and reminds them very much of our old home."

While neighbours' houses are still in varying states of demolition, this relatively simple but special home is an inspiration for the Christchurch rebuild at large.


Gold Reserve Award winner in Registered Master Builders 2013 House of the Year for the Nulook New Homes $600,000 - $1 million

Size: 288sqm

Architect: Michael Idiens

Landscape Designer: Ben McMaster

Builder: Mike Greer Homes Limited

Done Right: The owners were dubious about high ceilings and the extensive decking out front. However, they trusted their architects' advice, and are thrilled with the results.

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Done Wrong: Nothing. It feels exactly like their old home, which is what they wanted.

Unexpected: The roof was a challenging build, but looks great and also gives the neighbours more light.

Recommend: Something often overlooked: garage storage. Working with the builder and the joiner the owners added inbuilt storage which makes for a clutter-free space.

- Stuff


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