We had been talking for a few years about getting out of Auckland. We kept talking about what we will do in “ten years time” but never quite had the courage to jump. We finished repairing our leaky home at great expense in 2013 and after a repair process which was stressful and costly.
Nicki, who is Canterbury born and bred had played first class cricket for Canterbury’s champion women’s team of the 80’s and represented NZ for ten years. Despite 26 years in Auckland she travelled back to Christchurch many times to visit family and for work. September 2016 was the first post-earthquake trip she returned from thinking she could live there again. Tracey went online and looked at homes in Christchurch and was stunned at how much your money could get you in our second largest city. After a short conversation they both decided that anything could happen in ten years and if they could do today what they were planning for ten years time, why wait?
The Auckland property market was crazy and we could take advantage of that. So we decided in October 2016 to sell. In 2 and a half weeks our property was sold and settlement was end of January 2017. It was time to look for our new home.
We built a new home in Lincoln, just out of Christchurch City. We are now mortgage free, have money invested, have picked up work, live in a small community but have all the benefits of a city 20 minutes away. In the next 5 to 10 years Christchurch will be the best city in NZ, if not the world. The earthquake has provided an opportunity to rebuild Christchurch as a modern City, and the green spaces, cycling, and pedestrian needs are all taken care of. Selwyn District Council is also forward thinking and is not allowing housing development unfettered. They are designating community facilities such as pools and sports grounds, libraries and regenerated wetlands to ensure lifestyle is maintained.
Our only regret is distance from friends and family. But the new flexibility our lifestyle brings means we can take advantage of airfares and Tracey has already been back to Auckland 3 times since February with a return scheduled in November for a Show with friends and in December (for a family wedding). People are visiting us too. We don’t think it's all down to the heated pool we have put in but expect visits to pick up this summer!
Initially our home search centred on Christchurch but we soon found that house hunting post-earthquake from distance was too chancy. Each property comes with large reports and paperwork but we just didn’t feel confident we could properly appraise a home that had been repaired as to how well it had been done, or an unrepaired home and its value. That is when we started to look at brand new.
We were both familiar with Lincoln, Nicki from her times as a cricket coach and Tracey from watching their son play cricket for Otago A and some of their son’s friends play in the Gillette Cup final a couple of years ago. Coffee and lunch at the local village was common.
Having come from the heavy Auckland traffic, living a 20-minute drive from the centre of Christchurch seemed like child’s play. Living in Lincoln you travel through countryside until suddenly you are in Christchurch city. It is instantly relaxing.
We made a trip to Christchurch for a weekend and went to a few homes in Lincoln and other areas. We soon shifted our search to new homes.
The second show home we entered in Lincoln was Generation Homes. We were greeted by Lindy with a broad smile and an invitation to walk through the home. The home was clearly of high quality, with features missing from other show homes we had viewed. Everything in the show home was part of their standard package, unlike others who up-spec the show home. The finishes were quality and the curving of the walls softened the overall look. Lindy left us to wander alone. When we finished we approached her and so began a relationship which has gone from sales consultant to friend.
Lindy listened to us. She really listened. She never tried to sell us anything other than what we had outlined to her. She questioned us about how we live, what we like, our budget and soon had pointed us toward Liffey Springs. Again, she left us to go alone. We came back about 40 minutes later with a section number we liked. Unfortunately, it had already been sold but had not had the sold sign erected. Lindy sat down with us and pointed to a particular site which she said met the orientation to the sun we wanted, the size and with only 3 direct neighbours (over the road is reserve). In fact the one we initially chose was exposed to the easterly winds.
Lindy went back with us to show us the section she had in mind (all around were also vacant). She talked with Nicki about the sun orientation, and Nicki sussed out the prevailing winds. We got back in the car and decided to go for it. One of the drawcards of GH is that they had brought in Ribraft technology for foundations in Bay of Plenty in the 1990’s. This is state-of-the art foundations which are built to withstand earthquakes. This was reassuring and something we were not confident of in existing homes.
Generation have many plans to view. Lindy showed us one that she felt met our needs based on what we had told her. It was perfect. We made changes to it, widening here, lengthening there, until we were happy. We paid our deposit and travelled back to Auckland. There was a lot of email contact and some phone calls but everything was made simple by Lindy. We moved into a rented property in Rolleston in early February. From there we could meet with Lindy and more easily finalise arrangements.
The key to a smooth build, in our experience, is to make your decisions and stick by them. We chose everything from colours to taps, tiles to windows, decking to fences. Lindy was there the whole time, giving advice and pointing us in the direction of suppliers to view products. Amongst all of this we decided to build a swimming pool and install solar panels. Although GH had never done a build which included a pool they were open to our desire and worked it into their overall planning.
From the time the foundations were poured to us collecting the keys was about 4 months. With any build there will be small problems. Lindy advised us of them quickly, gave us options to address them, and then made it right. GH trades and employees are friendly, knowledgeable and accessible. Every person we met onsite and offsite was courteous. On one day there were 7 different trades working on our house. Things went quickly and smoothly. Once the house was finished we were not abandoned. Follow up questions are answered quickly and any work that needs to be attended has been promptly carried out.
The home is everything we imagined and more. People who come by are impressed. We love living in the home, in Lincoln and Christchurch. As a bonus we have not felt a single shake or shudder since we arrived on February 1. We feel like we have achieved everything we imagined for ourselves “in ten years time”. It is not often you can say you have been given more time, but that is how we feel.