Cameron Ironside has lived in and around the Tauranga area for seven years, and currently lives in Omokoroa with his family (wife Michelle and two children aged 12 and seven years). The Ironsides have become chameleons of sort, having travelled the world extensively before settling down in New Zealand and living in a range of housing types along the way.
Cameron hasn’t always worked in the renovation sector – but he’s always dabbled. Cameron is a qualified and experienced business lawyer, partnering in a commercial practise in Cape Town for 10 years. At the same time, his wife ran an interior painting company. On his way to New Zealand, Cameron completed an MBA at Edinburgh University and has for the past 7 years managed large projects across Asia, Africa and South America in the hydropower sector.
‘Renovations are at the same time incredibly exciting and inherently risky. Proper planning, experience and anticipatory management deliver on the excitement and mitigate the risks’.
Having developed a small property portfolio through targeted renovation projects throughout his legal career, this is a lesson Cameron initially learned the hard way and then used to guide his subsequent renovation projects. Recognition of the benefits of strong management and systems is a subsequent key driver for Cameron joining Refresh.
The Refresh model and processes provide a perfect fit for Cameron’s experience in the renovation space. Having the Refresh model behind projects enables Cameron to truly engage with the detailed planning, management and creativity behind each project.
“I’ve brought my skills in attention to detail and management (that come from being a lawyer and running your own business) into Refresh,” he says. “Working in hydropower also required me to work across a lot of barriers – language, cultural and different states of development – which meant that I had to be incredibly flexible and manage people who came from completely different perspectives.”
Since working with Refresh, Cameron has worked on everything from extensions, bathrooms and kitchens, to roof replacements and repairing damaged buildings where structural walls have been removed. He says he’s seen two common renovation trends in his time with Refresh: modernising older homes to make them more suitable for modern living, and the realisation that renovating an existing home will give a homeowner more bang for their buck than selling up and buying somewhere else.
“A lot of homes in Tauranga are like small boxes, and are cold and draughty with not very good insulation,” he says. “Many people in these kinds of properties want to make their homes more appropriate to modern living, so that means making homes more open plan, adding extensions, adding an ensuite or second bathroom, or refocusing the living area around the kitchen.
“A second trend I’m seeing is that people are realising the value in renovating rather than selling up and buying a new place because they can retain more land. You can pay a lot of money for a very small piece of land where new homes are built right up against each other. People are realising that they can spend, say, $200,000 on a renovation and they’ll come out roughly the same as if they’d sold up and bought again – but they’ll get to keep their larger section while basically getting a new house out of it, plus they get to keep enjoying their existing lifestyle.”
Cameron works alongside local building contractors, from experienced builders who have previously built Houses of the Year right through to young guys who are bringing innovative ways of building and working to the trade. He regularly works with the same teams so they know each other well. The same goes for the architects and designers he works with, which is very helpful when it comes to the consenting process.
“Our designers and architects have a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with the council, which means they’re more likely to get the designs right the first time.”
Ultimately, renovating a home is less about the structure of a house and more about seeing a homeowner’s dreams come true.
“Some of the most exciting parts of the job include working with clients to get their thoughts on paper, and going through the process to pull everything together,” says Cameron. “The ability to turn thoughts and dreams into something that will actually transform a homeowner’s life is really exciting.”
When not wandering around with tiles and concept plans, Cameron enjoys all things ocean related, especially fishing and surfing. A considerable portion of these activities involve keeping up with a young family out of a perfect water-orientated base in Omokoroa.