The Manukau region is one of the most diverse areas in Auckland. Home to more than half a million people, Manukau is typified by wide open spaces, easy access to the coast, convenient access to the rest of Auckland, comparatively affordable housing and a family-friendly way of living, making the area a popular place to live for young and old.

Unlike other parts of Auckland like Ponsonby and Parnell, though, you won’t find a ‘typical’ house style here. The region is comprised of a diverse ranging of housing, ranging from 1950s brick and tile homes to plasterboard homes built in the ‘70s and ‘80s, to weatherboard homes built somewhere in the middle, right through to brand new developments and subdivisions sprouting up all over the area.

Richard Lightfoot, a Refresh Renovations franchisee in the Manukau area, says when it comes to housing in the area, a renovation project is more about improving the functionality of a home on the inside than what it looks like on the outside.

“When some of these homes were first built, we had particular rooms for particular functions,” Richard says. “These days, we tend to live in more open spaces. The kitchen, dining and living rooms tend to be one big room and there’s generally good indoor/outdoor flow. When it comes to extensions and renovations, we’re noticing that lots of people want to open up their homes, especially in those family and entertainment areas.”

Speaking of family, Richard says that he’s seeing a growing trend in multi-generational homes in the area too, more so than other parts of Auckland. He puts this down to affordability, culture and the desire to live a comfortable lifestyle that might not have been possible if one homeowner tried to do it themselves.

Some of Auckland’s most popular beaches and beachside communities are found in the wider Manukau and Eastern Auckland regions, including Maraetai Beach, Eastern Beach and Clarks Beach. But while relaxing at the beach might be a great weekend activity, it’s not necessarily healthy for your home. In fact, any housing renovations and extensions within one kilometre of the coast must incorporate stainless steel instead of regular steel into the construction of the build in order to combat the effects of salt spray erosion.

Richard says that while stainless steel is essential for the integrity of a building (and compulsory when it comes to council consent), it does impact the homeowners’ perception of their renovation.

“The cost of a home renovation that’s vulnerable to the effects of salt spray can be more expensive than one that’s further inland,” he says. “The perceived cost to the homeowner goes up too, especially because swapping regular steel for stainless steel doesn’t look any different to the naked eye. When it comes to performance in a salt-spray zone, though, it’s essential.”

While the effects of salt spray can impact some homes in the Manukau area, swampy land can impact others. Especially on the eastern side of the region in areas like Papakura, Tamaki and Dannemora, much of the land that is now covered in housing was formerly swampy farmland. As a result, further inspections are required to analyse the stability of the land and establish the most suitable foundations for the land type.

“In these kinds of areas, we need to carry out geo-tech surveys of any extensions because of the nature of the ground underneath existing houses,” says Richard.  “This determines whether a home can have piles, a concrete base or floating foundations.”

Rain can also have an impact too, with overland water flows having the ability to negatively impact homes in these areas. In fact, Richard says that Auckland Council has had to reassess some overland water flow areas because we seem to be getting ‘one-in-150-years’ storms more regularly. Surface water that flows across properties in large amounts and where it didn’t flow before can cause a lot of disruption to housing. When it pools in low-lying areas, it can create dank swampy areas that are bad for buildings, not to mention the health of the people living in them.

“There is a solution, though,” says Richard. “Often it’s about putting in more drainage or retaining walls that have water traps that redirect water away from homes.”

Council regulations and expectations are fairly standard right across Auckland, although Richard has noticed that the council’s needs seem to change regularly in response to Auckland’s trend for higher density housing. He says that compliance is becoming harder to achieve which can result in the consenting process taking longer, so it pays to get it right the first time.

“Partnering with an experienced renovation company like Refresh not only makes the process easier for the homeowner, it also speeds it up, letting people enjoy living in their homes quicker,” says Richard.

There’s also the trust factor.

“Construction is booming in Auckland at the moment which means that trades are becoming harder to find and the cost of products is going up. Homeowners still need to get their renovations or extensions done though, and there’s always the temptation to go with a sub-par building company who’ll get the job done but might not offer any guarantees – or who might just disappear. This means that if something goes wrong in the future, a homeowner might not be able to get in touch with that builder to get the problem rectified.

“With a reputable company like Refresh, we’re committed to building long-term relationships with our clients, not just one-off meetings. We’re not like other construction companies that might not be around in five or 10 years’ time; we’ve got a tried and proven process that really works, and we’re always growing. We offer industry-recognised guarantees for all of our work, and if anything goes wrong we’re committed to fulfilling our end of the bargain.”

Find out more

To find out more about renovating or extending a home in the Manukau area, contact the friendly Refresh Renovations team today.

All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.

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