In a street filled with weatherboard homes and white picket fences, one Palmerston North house is a standout as a contender for house of the year.
The Hokowhitu home was the second stop for judges inspecting houses for the Registered Master Builders 2014 competition.
There are 17 homes in the Manawatu/Whanganui region vying for the top honour.
Judge Mark Wilson described the exterior as "early New Zealand" with its exposed wood and an abundance of greenery.
"I think it's got quite a nice early New Zealand feel to it, with a bit of South Island touches and then internally a bit of Europe thrown at it."
The house was built by Cavalier Homes Manawatu builder Phil Wolland early last year.
"It's quite unique," said Wolland.
Perhaps he's referring to the spade mounted on the door as a handle or the fully carpeted kitchen floor.
Wilson called the house "refreshing" because of "the materials and design style". A combination of different woods and hand-painted wallpaper help to create its eclectic style.
The home was originally entered in the $350,000 to $450,000 category but it has been bumped up a category as features, such as the marble tiles, weren't initially included in the cost.
"It's a little bit of a mixture to be honest, but it's a nice mix," said Wilson. "We always see good quality in the Manawatu."
The team of judges will travel from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South to scrutinise 109 houses - four more than last year.
Wilson said they had expected more entrants this year but he was pleased with the level of competition.
"Every location has their little sort of idiosyncrasies. When we move from centre to centre they each have their own different way of doing things.
The houses range from new homes and show homes to renovations and builders' own homes.
Wilson said he has seen an improvement in quality during the seven years he has judged the competition.
Registered Master Builders Association chief executive Warwick Quinn said the quality of the competition was the reason for its ongoing success.
"Registered master builders continue to enter the competition year after year because winning a house of the year award is a fantastic tool for promoting their business," he said.
Regional event winners will be announced on Friday, July 25.
The address and identity of the homeowner were not able to be revealed.
- Manawatu Standard
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