Green to go

MIKE SHAW
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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A green house has taken shape on the green corner of Devon St West and Lorna St in New Plymouth.

For years, the corner site has been a grassy slope mown and maintained by the district council. But a decision last year by the council to sell the property has prompted a two-home development of the site by builder brothers Kelvin and Martin Pearce.

It's ironic that this setting attracted a proposal several years ago to build an eco showhome on the site. The idea was dropped after public objection to council involvement in the proposal.

That background didn't govern their decision to develop here, but coincidentally Kelvin and Martin are eco-conscious builders and have planned and detailed the first of the two homes here with a distinct focus on sustainability and energy efficiency.

The project actually began with a call from a real estate consultant: "I have a piece of land available ... can you do something with it?"

Kelvin and Martin looked closely at the land of just under 1000sqm and decided it was a good option to divide it in half and build two homes, just a mile from the city centre. "Where else can you get land this close to town?" asks Kelvin. "They used to start the Devon Mile race here."

Access off Devon St West, however, was not available, so they have utilised an existing right-of-way off Lorna St.

The brothers have made this property as low maintenance as possible - choosing to have no lawns at all. Decks provide indoor-outdoor living and pathways and bark-covered garden spaces on the rest of the section allow owners to just lock up and leave whenever they want a holiday.

"That's what a lot of people want these days," Kelvin explains. And the home still enjoys a green outlook with a council reserve on the other corner of Lorna St. "That should never be built out ... and you don't have to mow it."

The slope of the land dictated a half-basement home, and Kelvin and Martin have used this to effect, using their eco awareness to make the lower structure something special. "It's probably the best-insulated garage in New Plymouth," Kelvin explains.

Plastered polystyrene blocks make up the basement walls and their centres are filled

with 200mm of solid concrete. "The insulation rating is R6.4 - you can't get that with

timber walls and batts," Kelvin emphasises.

A formal entrance and granite-tiled foyer, an office or fourth bedroom, a separate

toilet, and a generous double garage with laundry space comprise the basement level.

Behind the door of the bedroom/office off the foyer is a key component of this

home's energy efficiency - a power inverter for the photovoltaic solar panels on the

roof that generate electricity for a good proportion of the home's needs.

Any power that's not needed in the home is put into the national grid and potentially

provides a return to this home's owners to offset any power used at other times.

"During the summer, I understand that you should only end up paying the supply

charge for the electricity connection," Kelvin says. "In winter, there's likely to be

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some extra cost."

That's good news for prospective buyers of this home considering the recent news of

looming electricity price rises.

With a reasonable amount of free power available, it's logical that electricity is

the only power option in the home. Hot water, cooking and heating needs are all

electrically satisfied.

The stairs lead up from the polished granite tiles of the foyer to the home's living

areas and three double bedrooms. Those bedrooms are located along the hallway to

the right at the top of the stairs, with the two end bedrooms enjoying eye-catching

views up Lorna St to Mt Taranaki. The front corner bedroom is the master, with its

spacious walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. One of the guest bedrooms has sliding doors

opening on to the front deck.

The family bathroom is also located along the hallway and boasts the luxury touch of

a freestanding double bath. Vinyl planking with a dark walnut finish offers a pleasing

contrast to the light and airy decor throughout the house.

On the other side of the stairwell, the living areas wrap around the sunny north end of

the home.

Kitchen, dining and family spaces are open-plan, with a ranchslider opening to the

decking areas for today's requisite indoor-outdoor lifestyle. More polished granite

floor tiles maintain a high-quality presentation in the kitchen, which is a corner

variation on the popular galley design with island bench. A double electric oven is

complemented by a ceramic cooktop with touch controls.

Cavity-sliders open between the informal living areas and the lounge, which also has

doors opening out to the main deck - bordered with glass for an uninterrupted outlook

and greater sense of space.

There's plenty on view to admire, but there's more eco-oriented detail out of sight

that helps make this home a high performer, according to Kelvin and Martin.

Walls are steel-framed - a preference of Kelvin and Martin for its lack of chemicals

and combination of strength, dimensional accuracy and lighter weight. "Two of us can

carry a 7m wall," Martin says.

Mammoth polyester insulation is used throughout the home - a fully recyclable

material that's made here in New Zealand with fibres from recycled plastic bottles. "It

also has really good noise control qualities," says Martin.

Underfoot, carpet is New Zealand-made 100 per cent wool - another sustainable

quality product. Beneath that is ecoply flooring rather than chipboard, part of a focus

on keeping solvent-based material in this home to a minimum. Glues used in building

the home are all water-based and paints are low-VOC (volatile organic compound).

Double-glazed aluminium window joinery is also thermally broken to avoid

condensation on the metal framing and the glass is argon-filled for increased

insulation.

The exterior cladding looks like the popular Linea board, but is actually traditional

timber weatherboarding, Kelvin points out. "It's been used for 100 years and is also

sustainable."

The decking material around the home is an ecodecking product made from 50 per

cent recycled wood material and 50 per cent recycled plastic. "It still looks like timber

but there is no face-fixing, the screws are hidden."

TSB Realty consultant Moira Blundell is marketing the home for the brothers. As a

brand-new home close to the city and schools with eco-friendly design and detail and

a home-office potential, she expects plenty of interest in its sale.

"People understand the importance of quality design and energy efficiency and this

home should offer increasing value in the future," Moira says.

QUICK LOOK

WHERE: 3a Lorna St, New Plymouth.

HOW BIG: 458sqm in section; 236sqm in home.

HOW MUCH: Buyer inquiries over $620,000 invited.

WHAT YOU GET: Spacious new contemporary home just a walk from the central

city or Westown shopping and close to schools. Eco-focused design means a

comfortable and cost-effective lifestyle.

MARKETED BY: Moira Blundell at TSB Realty - 06 968 3800 or 021 992 990.

ON THE WEB: tsbrealty.co.nz - ref NP4582.

SEE IT: Open home, Sunday, March 16, from 3pm till 4pm.

- Taranaki Daily News

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