WORDS Patricia Moore
That old saying about the heat in the kitchen had more than a ring of truth about it for the owner of a 1970s home in the Wellington suburb of Khandallah. But rather than getting out of the kitchen, she chose to renovate. A glass conservatory that surrounded, and partially enclosed, the kitchen made the whole area unpleasantly hot during the height of summer – and quite the opposite over winter when it became very cold. In addition the conservatory leaked and, given the age of the house, the kitchen, while functional, was dated; for someone who enjoys cooking these factors were a real negative.
Given that there were no proposed changes to the footprint of the house, the project was a relatively simple one. But knowing what needed to be done and organising it herself, was not an option for the home’s owner. Instead she went online, discovered Refresh Renovations and things very quickly fell into place.
The first point of contact was Charmaine Davis, renovation specialist and project manager for Wellington Refresh Renovations director Lia Boersma. From the initial consultation when Charmaine outlined the Refresh process - concept to working drawings, quotes and the actual build - the owner felt confident her expectations would be met. “After signing up I had visits from the kitchen planner and the architectural draughtsperson – always with Charmaine there to support and advise me. Being able to bounce ideas back and forth during this planning stage was a real plus.”
Lia explains the timeframe was a key to the success of the project for the home owner. “She wanted the major building work to take place over three weeks when she would be away on holiday. We were able to meet this requirement and began the build in late September. She actually arrived home from holiday to find a new roof on the conservatory, skylights in place and the kitchen well underway. The whole project was complete by December.”
The original structure of the conservatory was a vital element, says Lia. “We needed to know whether it would need reinforcing to carry a standard roof with skylights and insulated ceiling so we engaged an engineer for an assessment. This advice meant we replaced the existing glass panels with a light-weight roof, matching the existing cladding.” Lia says they were also mindful, throughout the project, of the importance of staying with the original style of the house and the colour scheme.
While the project was essentially a conservatory and kitchen renovation, the owner says the age of the house and the extent of the leakage threw up a few curve balls. “This was where Refresh excelled. When there was a problem, Charmaine was able to get the plumber, the builder, the electrician or the tiler, quickly to handle it. Being able to have someone to deal with all this was such a relief.”
Damage to the existing floor in the conservatory was one such curve ball and there were also issues with poor existing tiling in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house. “We recommended uplifting all the tiles [kitchen, den, conservatory, toilet, laundry and hallway] and replacing them with new ones,” says Lia. “This really pulled the whole renovation together and the outcome is stunning.”
Considering her new high-end Mastercraft kitchen, new conservatory roof and tiled floors, the owner admits her initial budget was unrealistic. But given the end result she’s more than happy. “I have the peace of mind of knowing the leaks are fixed and I get to work in a wonderful new kitchen – the layout and the storage space is amazing and the lighting has improved enormously. I didn’t realise how bad it was before!” And, now that it’s no longer a ‘hot house’, the conservatory is also getting a lot more use.
The conservatory in homes of this vintage was typical of many they see, says Lia. “Too hot in summer, too cold in winter and therefore what should be a great living space is uncomfortable and under-used. Replacing skylights with water-tight roofing is not a major renovation but one that can make a huge difference.”
Khandallah is an affluent and sought-after suburb within easy reach of the CBD, says Lia. “Houses there are enjoying good capital growth; by working with Refresh to update her kitchen and fix those damaging leaks in the conservatory, the owner of the Lohia property is doing everything she can to ensure her property increases in value and gives her the utmost pleasure.”
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