Seven-month home extension and re-design

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Modern home extension with open plan kitchen, dining and living room.

It's warm fuzzies all around for this recently completed renovation in Mt Roskill.

Before After
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It was before children when Paul and Janis Brislen viewed their future new home 13 years ago.
Moving from a one-bedroom apartment in the city to a three-bedroom house was huge – but once two small children were added to the mix, the couple felt the walls closing in just a little, especially when everyone was sharing the one bathroom. “We wanted a home that would give us enough space for our girls to grow up in and I work from home as well, so it was important we had space and a future-proofed house to cope with all of that, plus more bathrooms!” says Janis.
Indoor-outdoor flow of 'noisy?lounge and dining room leading out to patio.
I can’t think of any better praise than ‘we’d do it again

The Refresh Renovations process

“So we ended up calling Refresh Renovations to get some advice on what we could do, whether we were being silly by not just selling and moving, or what sort of ballpark costs we would be looking at when it came to the vision we had for the property.”
On viewing the property, Refresh Renovations saw a 1920-1930s bungalow that was fairly original but in a bad need of a makeover. Parts of the existing home were okay and just needed some TLC but the house also suffered some terrible add-ons and alterations over the years, which just had to come off. “It was a large section with the potential for a decent extension and the ability to still retain a decent lawn area, so it really made for an exciting project with so many options and potential,” says Refresh Renovations.
After talking the couple through the basics, Refresh Renovations then introduced them to a draughtsman who came up with some concepts and the rest, as they say, is history! Although, not quite. Being quite a substantial renovation it entailed a lot of drawings to detail all the areas where the new tied into the old.

Design considerations

Those particular points of design required careful consideration and time to work out, and because the proposed extension also infringed into the height to boundary restrictions – it triggered the need for resource consent. The consent involved the process of getting signed permission from the immediate neighbours and a nearby church, where seven people had to sign the paperwork.
The next step was to work out where the Brislen family were going to live, and since renting was not an option, Refresh helped the couple and their girls out by doing a temporary mini-renovation of sorts.
Squeezed into one half of the house, adding a kitchen sink and shelf to the linen cupboard, and moving the stove into the lounge, Refresh also managed to hook up the dishwasher so that the family had all the modern conveniences, just without much space.
“Living on site with two girls could have been awful but the boys (Marty and Paul) made it work really well. Even when we had half a dozen builders, plumbers, sparkies, roofing guys, painters, and a digger on site, they made sure we were cozy, safe and not too inconvenienced,” says Janis.
“We had hoped to start the build over summer 2012/2013 but in the end it didn’t kick off till the third of July. That could have been vile but in the end we only lost a couple of days to bad weather and being tucked up in our half a house helped keep us warm.”
Family lounge with renovated hardwood floors opening up to outdoor are by glass doors.


As with any renovation, there are always ups and downs, plus unforeseen interruptions and Refresh Renovations recalls one of the larger issues that was discovered the first week into the project.
“We made the initial ‘site cut’ into the bank and the guys thought they had hit a water main as there was a consistent stream of water running from a fairly steady point. After digging a few small open trenches and checking out all possibilities, the engineer was called to site and as a result we ended up having to bore 6 x 3.5 – 4 meter deep pile holes filled with concrete. On top of these piles was a whole lot of extra concrete beams and steel reinforcing to support this area. This obviously added time and extra costs to the project.”
Once the build was underway it was then time to look at the interiors and this was where Refresh engaged the help of Yellow Fox, who produced a specification list of all the required fittings and fixtures, along with some great 3D renders.
The choices were of a modern style, but still suited to a bungalow styled home, which was important to Janis and Paul.
A renovated girls bedroom with new cream carpet, double bed and colourful furniture.

Maintaining style

“It was essential to us that we kept the style of the original house throughout the new area. While this meant spending a lot on timber joinery and roofing the old part of the house, it means the new building is seamless and looks like it has always been there.”
Yellow Fox worked on the kitchen design, the en-suite and walk-through wardrobe, as well as the colours both inside and out, Janis was thankful as it helped take a lot of the nightmare out of choosing colours and fixtures. And it meant they had an expert on hand who had great ideas about how to make existing space work in a way that they hadn’t previously considered.
Master bathroom with a white sink basin, silver tapware, glass enclosed shower and glass cabinets.

A new kitchen for Christmas

The target finish date was before Christmas last year, but due to a few unexpected variations, they didn’t quite get there. But Refresh was able to get the kitchen up and running so the wider family could have Christmas Day at the home, with carpet layers basically finishing up on Christmas Eve.
Seven months later. This is one renovation story that has a truly happy ending with both the client and Refresh Renovations more than thrilled with the end result. “I think it looks fantastic! It’s a modern home, but still has a character feel about it.”
And Refresh Renovations knows their guys that worked on the home are rather chuffed too. “They really enjoyed the challenge and are very pleased with what they have achieved. Paul and Janis were also such accommodating and understanding people. It’s never an easy time on anyone involved, especially the clients, but they have both been an absolute pleasure to work for and made our job seem easy.
“Janis is also, in my opinion, the world’s best baker which certainly kept the guys motivated and energized during the build!” As for owners Paul and Janis, their thoughts aren’t too removed from Refresh Renovations’ with everything they wanted being achieved in the renovation.
“We have exactly what we were after; bedroom of a decent size for the girls, a ‘noisy’ lounge at one end of the house as far away from the master bedroom as possible, and a quiet lounge at that end of the house for grown-ups, room to work from home, with cabling ready to connect to the fibre optic network when that arrives, garaging and two and a half bathrooms, all centred around a fantastic kitchen that really is the heart of the home.”

Living on-site during a home renovation

They also have some words of advice for future renovators. “Don’t be afraid to live on site. We found we could answer questions in seconds instead of having all work grind to a halt while we were tracked down to make a decision. It also meant when the wrong products arrived, as they inevitably do from time to time, we could reject them before it got too out of hand.”
“I can’t think of any better praise than ‘we’d do it again’. Probably not immediately, but after hearing horror stories of families just wanting to see the end of the project, we were surprised by how much fun it was. That’s down to the boys on site, the clear vision of what we wanted and lots of communication. It was a great experience both for the girls and for us. We know our home on a more intimate level than we would if we’d just called by each day, and we know exactly what went in to her bones as well as on the surface.”
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This case study featured on page 54 of Issue 011 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.


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This project was completed in
June 2014
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Project description
Auckland Central
New Zealand
Janis and Paul Brislen
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