WORDS Sharon Stephenson
Sub-dividing a section, moving an existing house to the rear of that section and building another dwelling at the front would be a major undertaking for most people.
But surely being the owner of two Refresh Renovations franchises would make the process slightly easier? Yes and no, says Tim Walters, the owner of Rodney and North Shore Refresh Renovations, who is undertaking this project on his family property in Orewa, north of Auckland.
“I've owned both franchises for four years and working in the industry you do accumulate a lot of knowledge,” says Tim. “But doing a resource consent for renovating or adding to a house, which is mainly what we do, and subdividing a property, are two very different things. Plus, I’ve never tackled a project of this complexity before.”
Tim and his wife Kirsty bought their 1970s three-bedroom home in June 2013 as a family home for themselves and their two daughters, Eva (8) and Isabella (6). Being on the flat and near the beach and public amenities made the purchase a no-brainer. But the biggest selling point was the 809sqm section.
“Large sections like this are common in Orewa and they were being snapped up by developers. We bought this house 22 hours after it went on the market!”
With so much room to play with, it was always the plan to demolish the existing house and build two or three houses; but the needs of a growing family soon put paid to that.
“If we’d done that it would have meant we wouldn't be able to build the 290sqm family home we needed. There was also a lot of value in the existing house and it was on piles, so we knew it would be easy to move.”
Unfortunately, as with “eight out of 10 New Zealand houses” the 110sqm home was incorrectly sited. “Kiwi houses never seem to be in the best place on a section. This was our opportunity to get it right.”
So the family moved into a rental 800m down the street and set about sub-dividing the land into a 330sqm block at the rear of the section on which to relocate the existing house (which they planned to renovate and sell), as well as a larger 500sqm at the front of the section on which they could build a spacious family home.
Tim worked with surveyors and the Rodney Council to work thorough the complex resource consent process and says he’d advise others to do the same.
“They know what they’re talking about in terms of flood zones and geotech issues, and so on. It made our lives a lot easier.”
Even so, the resource consent process for the three-pronged project took 11 months in total. “We needed a consent to subdivide the section, building consent to move the old house and another to build a new one, so there was a lot involved.”
It also took some time to clear the section, 70% of which consisted of concrete, including two driveways, an old block garage, walls and a shed. Another major issue was storm-water connectivity: pipes weren’t where they were on the council plans which meant the couple had to adjust the services to suit.
Eventually, that meant accessing the public storm-water system, which added three weeks and around $3K to the process.
But once these issues were ironed out, it took just three days to bore the piles, pour concrete and move the house 40m back from its original position.
And then the fun part began: renovating the house. “With its raked ceilings, angled windows and 'boxy' design, it was a classic 70s design,” says Tim. “It just needed to be modernised.”
The house is now on the market and there has been much interest in the renovated dwelling. Work on the couple’s dream home, a 290sqm two-storey contemporary house, is about to start, with an anticipated move-in date of early July.
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