ARTICLE Jason Burgess

The breadth of landscape, opportunities and the relatively short drive to Auckland’s CBD are big draws. Magnificent coastlines and the bush-clad Hunua Ranges offer a trove of activities for outdoor types – the Hunua’s act as a five-dam storehouse of drinking water for the urban isthmus beyond. The north-facing Bombay Hills provide stunning city views and a growing motorway service centre. In rush hour commuters ride the rails of the main trunk line direct into Britomart. It is this painless blend of city and country that has attracted a recent rush of Aucklanders here seeking affordable homes and stress-free lifestyles. 

“Our region has wonderful countryside, lovely villages, good people and a fantastic community feel,” says Refresh renovation consultant Kim Reiche. “We have a great range of homes from 1920s villas onwards and we are seeing a boom in renovations. Our clients range from young families to retirees.” In towns like Papakura, longtime residents with significant equity in their properties are giving their 1970s and 80s era homes a makeover. “The diversity of cultures and income groups is vast,” says Kim. “We have clients who want a simple twenty-thousand-dollar kitchen and others who require a fifty-thousand-dollar bathroom. One thing we all have in common is we are a house-proud lot.” 

Sue Millard is Kim’s go-to Project Manager. With over 25 years in the building industry and a background in architectural design, understanding how materials connect and knowing the pitfalls of various kitchen designs has given Sue an inside edge when it comes to renovation projects. Joinery design can make a huge difference to the overall look of a property and Sue knows what looks great, and what doesn’t. She's a great asset to have. Bathroom renovations are trending right now, as are extensions with most clients either adding a storey or creating open-plan living. Kim uses both architect’s and draughtsman’s for drawing plans. One specialises in high-end and conceptual projects, the other in smaller jobs. “Matching the correct architect and personality with the right client is crucial to establishing a trusting working relationship. Good communication creates a better understanding of how a space is being used, who is using it, the outlook and its aesthetic value. An addition should be in keeping with the existing home, not look like an extension.” 

Renovated dining room in Karaka as a part of a Refresh Renovations project
Image from a Refresh Renovations project. View full case study here: 100-year-old villa transformation

Many larger farms have recently been subdivided into 10-hectare lifestyle blocks and in the process the original homesteads are getting some TLC. Renovators of these older rural homes often discover that no plans exist for their property. Council approaches situations like this on a case-by-case basis, so a footprint plan must be created to provide an initial outline before the architect can start. This may also mean seeking a Certificate of Acceptance (Safe and Sanitary certificate) from council before any construction work can begin. Franklin is served by both the Auckland and Waikato Councils, and Kim believes that, “by using a Refresh Manager as a point of contact with councils, clients can expect greater time and cost efficiencies.” 

Kate, Auckland landscaping specialist, has extensive experience working with clients and suppliers, building strong relationships.

Franklin spans two coasts with some properties falling within high wind and sea spray zones, where environmental factors can significantly impact on longevity and weather tightness. Sea spray will mean products like timber cladding will need to be treated differently and external fitting requirements call for stainless over galvanised products. High wind zones typically call for double-glazed windows, but may also require additional bracing in the walls. This can be resolved during the architectural planning process.

The building code makes allowances for any general earthquake concerns throughout Franklin, but specialised Geotech work may be required for certain foundation and structural works – particularly in the case of older homes where no previous reports exist. Many rural properties are on tank water and have septic tanks and/or reticulated systems. Any water issues must be addressed during renovations. Often there is not one solution to waste water, each home is treated differently depending on the age, site and soil type, and may require further testing to establish site specific solutions. For example, a clay section limits the requisite quick drainage necessary for traditional septic tanks, so an advanced two-chamber system that uses both anaerobic and aerobic processes to break down the waste may be better suited. 

Renovated bathroom with walk-in shower, part of a Refresh Renovations project
Image from a Refresh Renovations project. View full case study here: Sophisticated, seven-week kitchen and bathroom renovation.

Kim offers practical and sustainable future-proofing solution to all her clients. While ventilation, heat pumps and LED lighting improve the running of a home, insulation is paramount to any renovation. “You can have all the latest heating devices, but if there is nothing to hold the heat in then you are just wasting energy. We are connecting more clients with bottled and mains gas for cooking and water heating. It is much more efficient.”

When the weather turns inclement on larger renovation projects Kim advises shrink-wrapping as a great option for maintaining a dry and safer job. “We try to reduce as much liability for a site as possible,” offers Kim. Sometimes in suburban settings, that can mean fencing off a property first and/or factoring in a traffic management program for deliveries and removals.

Renovation time frames are rarely as quick as expected. Planning is critical and that alone can be a long-winded and costly process before demo even begins. Kim cautions, “A lot of people see TV shows like The Block and believe that they get it all done in a week for the same prices on that show. They forget about the contras for trades and product endorsement that makes those kinds of costs viable. It is simply not like that in the wider world of construction. From timing the shutting off of power and water for demo to painting and finishing, requires exceptional time management. That is our job, to take that responsibility and make sure that the right trades show at the right time on the right day. Clients are not interested in excuses they only want to see results.”

Have a look at this renovation project in Franklin: 100-year-old villa transformation.


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If you would like to discuss options and ideas for renovating in Franklin, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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