A home excavation in New Zealand - Stage 2

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ARTICLE Clare Chapman IMAGE Scott Espie

Now, contemporary, light-filled spaces flow seamlessly from one to the next, rooms offer dynamic areas for the various members of the family, and entertaining is not only possible, but desirable, with a modern kitchen and extensive outdoor areas.

Turning this cramped three-bedroom, one-bathroom house into a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with an additional living area without increasing the footprint by more than 25m2 seems like an almost insurmountable challenge, but it was achieved in this project as a result of a clever design and excavating under the existing house to utilise unused space.

Spacious, renovated kitchen flooded with natural light

For the Bassons, who say they went into the renovation project with a relatively conservative attitude, what has transpired is beyond what they ever thought possible.

“We knew we needed more space and a second living area, and that we wanted an open-plan living/dining area but that was about it,” Yvette says. “As a result of the process, the house became what we really wanted and not just what we thought we wanted when we started. We got to a place where our house actually works with our lives.”

The Bassons, having lived in the house for nearly six years, both work full time, have two children aged 17 and seven, as well as dogs, and have various other commitments including sporting interests, so a house that would work for their specific needs was important.

Dining area which flows through to the new deck

The first step for the Bassons was to get concept drawings done. This kicked off in April 2014, and as Yvette says, ensured everything was as they wanted it to be at an early stage.

“It also allowed us to make small tweaks here and there before building started, but we hardly changed anything from those initial concept drawings.”

Renovated bathroom with classic features and fixtures

The renovation was undertaken in two stages due to its complexity: a cavernous area underneath the existing house was excavated and a master bedroom, WIR, ensuite, laundry and second living area, as well as a small deck was added below the house; while upstairs, the kitchen was reoriented, the laundry moved to make way for an internal stair to the addition, and the living/dining area turned into a contemporary open-plan space leading out to a deck that sits on top of the lower extension.

The excavation and building work underneath the house was completed first, allowing the Bassons to live on site through the first stage; the second stage rendered the house unliveable as works moved upstairs for six weeks to complete the renovation.

Staircase seamlessly connecting the two levels

Despite the obvious complexity of such a project, the Bassons found it to be an interesting and relatively stress-free process as a result of their decision to engage a project manager from the beginning of the process.

“Once the build started, we realised just how fantastic it was having a project manager. Because we work full time, have kids and dogs and a lot of commitments, we would never have been able to do this project if we were running it ourselves. It also took away the stress and day-to-day issues that crop up if you’re running a project, and we never wanted to be the people directing the work; we don’t have the specialist knowledge or the time.”

Deck added on top of the added donwstairs bedroom

There were some challenges living on site of course, but they were minimal, Yvette says. “We went six months without a backyard because it was filled first with piles of dirt from the excavation (which was later used to flatten out the sloping section) and then building materials, but it was a minor inconvenience.”

And the benefits of renovating far outweighed any challenges during the process itself, which were very limited. “Often you are working within existing spaces and trying to make them work for your life and way of living,” Yvette says. “So being able to say: ‘We want this sort of space to do that’, or, ‘We need this size for that space’ was amazing.”

“I love coming home now. Being able to entertain was really important for me and I can easily do that now in lovely, relaxed spaces. Having a second bathroom is great too, and a spacious master bedroom downstairs, as well as being able to enjoy the larger deck upstairs, and interact more with the back yard by accessing it from the bottom level of the house. It’s bright and beautiful and modern and it works for us, specifically.”

To read more on this renovation, check out our stage 1 article, "Going under: A home excavation story".

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This case study featured on page 58 of Issue 018 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
 

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