A 1955 bungalow renovation in New Zealand

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ARTICLE Clare Chapman IMAGE Scott Espie

Homeowner Lynne was ecstatic. It was two days before Christmas and she couldn’t believe what had been achieved. “Everything was new and warm and the spaces were just amazing. I just wanted to lie on the brand new carpet and make Christmas snow angels,” she said, and she tells us that is exactly what she did once the team had left.

When the latest council valuations came out last year in 2015, Lynne says she saw it as an opportunity to extend the mortgage and make her house more of a ‘forever home’. As a single parent to her 13-year-old son, she says life had been tough and it had been a hard road keeping up with maintenance and upkeep on her 1955 bungalow.

So when she saw the opportunity, it was all systems go. “I wanted to create some separation between the spaces. The original house was in a pretty bad condition and had three bedrooms all in one area so there was no real privacy. With my son growing up, I wanted to create a house that would grow with us and our changing needs. My initial idea was to build another level and create a separate living area and master bedroom with ensuite upstairs and I was quite set on that,” she says.

Renovated master bedroom with built-in ensuite

As it transpired, that wasn’t possible. The house is down a long right-of-way and backs onto the railway lines; as a result, there are height-to-boundary restrictions in place, as well as the height restrictions due to the view zone. So when the concept design phase got underway, and a design was presented to Lynne, she says her first reaction was to be “gutted”. Initially, she couldn’t see the benefits of what had been designed.

But as Refresh took Lynne through the proposal, the concept was decided on as the best solution to achieve her goals and the project went ahead. “When I understood what had been designed, I couldn’t believe how amazing it was and what a great and clever use of space it could be. It really was the best solution for my budget and ticked all the boxes I had, just in a way I hadn’t imagined. I would never have been able to envisage something so clever.”

Lynne’s house takes up the rear section while the front house is owned by her sister. This meant Lynne and her son could live next door while the renovations were underway between September and December last year. It also gave them the opportunity to watch the progress on a daily basis and see the project unfolding.

The Refresh renovation consultant says some work had been done on the house over the years, but it wasn’t well thought-out. When Lynne moved in about 12 years ago, the toilet had been removed from the bathroom and placed in what was formerly a separate laundry. That meant that the laundry effectively took up a cupboard in the kitchen.

Open and light filled kitchen with island and butler pantry

“The spaces just didn’t work effectively for the client and her son. What was decided upon was an extension that extended over a single level but provided a separate master bedroom and ensuite. It opened up the living spaces, as well as updating the kitchen and bathroom and returning the toilet to its original location, allowing for a separate laundry. This meant we could provide the best value for money to the client and avoid all the costs of consents that would have otherwise been an issue if we had decided to build up rather than out.”

Internal walls were removed to open up the dining/living areas and a butler’s pantry was built, which gives the space an open and modern functionality. The project saw the majority of the house reconfigured, with all major rooms and spaces being updated as well; an additional 25m2 was added to the footprint, as well as a new deck area.

“What was so nice about this project was the excitement from the client when we presented her with the ideas,” the renovation consultant added, “we worked through various stages in the concept design phase to keep the essence of what she asked for but to design something that could be achieved within budget and with the constraints in mind – including the railway and the type of rock on which the house sits.”

The construction manager for the Refresh team, says once sign off was achieved the job went ahead smoothly and no major issues cropped up. However, they had to be extra cautious about the rock under the footprint of the extension.

“We had to work with the engineers to find a suitable way of piling that didn’t mean we would need to break up the rocks. What was achieved works well, in that we have the same amount of concrete required for each pile, but instead of going down as far as usual, about a third of the concrete is around the outside of the piles. Being able to come up with this solution saved a lot of potential extra cost and time.”

Open plan kitchen and living room with seamless flow between the two spaces

After a three-month construction phase, Lynne and her son moved back into the property in time for Christmas last year. And she hasn’t looked back.

“I still absolutely love what has been created. I’ve been able to start having a book club at the house because the spaces work so well with a lot of people. My son has his friends over and they hang out in the original wing, away from my parts of the house. Since the renovation, I’ve also become self-employed because I just love being at home. Everything works so well; the spaces are warm, calm and comfortable. The Refresh team were so caring and genuine and I really felt like my home and my future was in the best hands. They were highly-skilled and professional. I couldn’t have asked for better.”

The focus of Refresh Renovations is on delivering excellent customer service and value by incorporating design and using world class systems and processes. If you're thinking of renovating or looking for a builder, talk to Refresh at +64 9 33 60 33 or enquire online.

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Before photo of the displaced bathroom Before photo of kitchen and living room There was no flow between the kitchen and living room before the renovation