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Auckland investors build flexible 70s-inspired home in Northland

Auckland investors build flexible 70s-inspired home in Northland

For Aucklanders Kim and Steve Brown building their newest property with Generation Homes proved the old adage of ‘third time’s a charm’ rings true. The couple reside in Puhoi, approximately 50 kilometres north of Auckland, and have two rental properties under their belt. They spent six weeks canvasing different areas to find the ideal location for their third investment property – a long-term rental they may consider for retirement in the future.

A rentable house coupled with breath-taking beaches, a coastal outdoor lifestyle and close proximity to Auckland and Whangarei were high on the wish list – and the Brown’s found it all at One Tree Point in Northland. Their goal was always to build a flexible property suitable for a growing family or elderly couple, but design-focused Kim was worried she may have “champagne tastes on a beer budget”. After careful consideration, the couple decided to partner with national top 10 homebuilder Generation Homes who delivered a quality 200sqm three-bedroom home on time and on budget.

 

Quote from Kim Brown
It’s amazing how a few little changes can make such a big difference and Generation allowed that happen. I thought there was no way a building company had the flexibility to achieve what we wanted but it did.

Kim Brown

GH

We understand you had a clear vision for this property. Tell us about it.

KIM

We went for the Kauri design because it suited the site and allowed us to capitalise on that beautiful Northland sun without having to invest in too much heating. However we wanted to modify the plan. Generation Homes listened to us and supported us through every stage of the redesign process.

Right from the get go, I had it in my head that the 70s was coming back and I wanted to bring that 70s inspiration into the property without going over the top with architectural design features. We achieved our vision through our use of colour and landscaping, leaving subtle clues throughout the property. 

GH How did you use colour to achieve your 70s inspired vision?
KIM

In the bathrooms, we went for a neutral white bath and vanity but we tiled the shower and walls with a dark charcoal tile that has bronze metallic pieces splattered through it. It reminds me of my parent’s place in the late 70s or 80s when metallic wallpaper was everywhere.

The base colour of the house is Dulux Narrow Neck (in between a grey and beige) and we selected a slightly darker shade on the doors, trimming and ceilings. In the kitchen, the floor tiles are darker charcoal colour with a glittery sprinkle through them to create an angular effect. The kitchen cupboards are very neutral but the splash back has bright orange subway tiles. We had such a laugh with the sales consultant when we picked the orange tiles, but when we saw the finished product it was definitely a ‘wow’ moment. Our goal was to team neutrals with bright pops of colour because we wanted to create something different and innovative that was easy to live with. On the exterior of the home we used a modern version of a 70s red so it’s more of a warm brick brown, but it was our landscaping which really tied the whole theme together.   

GH

You’re a landscape designer and your husband works in construction. How did this influence your design choices outdoors?

KIM Large stacker doors off the family and dining areas open out onto the outdoor living area. We selected this beautiful exposed aggregate paving rather than decking simply because of its durability and the property’s proximity to the beach. We constructed raised outdoor beds in a 70s fashion by using geometric shapes. They’re made out of wood, but we cladded them with bamboo and painted them in bright orange and brown. There’s also a massive gabion wall inspired by the classic 70’s crazy paving but with a modern twist, constructed from local Paradise quarry stone which provides privacy and warmth for the outdoor area.

We also extended the roofline out by about four metres so that we’ve got a year-round outdoor entertaining area. We even included the modern versions of 70s inspired plants in the garden. It’s really hot and we’ve got unforgiving soils so I wanted the garden to be low maintenance but always look good. Fortunately for us, a lot of the interesting and drought-tolerant plants used in 70s-inspired Californian homes fit the description.  

We included a large raised garden bed right along the boundary fence line to capitalise on the all-day sun. Our selection of citrus are espaliered along the fence and our tenants are already enjoying the vegetables that they have  planted in the raised beds. It’s practical, tidy and it looks great. We also added a big concrete pad to park a boat or a caravan right next the garage, which also has its own power source.
GH Let’s talk about the interior features of the home. What variations did you select? 
KIM

We upgraded the bathroom cabinetry, which was a small investment that really lifted the quality of the home without actually putting that executive price tag on it. We included plenty of storage in the hallway and laundry. Plus we added an attic storage area in the garage.

The kitchen is a really flexible space because you can pick whether you want a dining area or a family TV area and there’s a separate formal lounge that can be used as a media room or a children’s playroom. One of our biggest variations was building a butler’s area off the kitchen in front of the home’s main entrance. It performs a number of functions. The first was that it created another dimension to the entrance so you didn’t just walk straight through the front door into the kitchen and dining area. Secondly, we included a big recycled-wood bench and plenty of storage to house those big, bulky cooking appliances.

We also used vinyl laminate flooring in the family and lounge area to make the home more practical for its coastal location. It’s amazing how a few little changes can make such a big difference and Generation allowed that happen. I thought there was no way a building company had the flexibility to achieve what we wanted but it did. 

 

GH

Did you have any preconceived notions about building before you started the process? If so were they right/wrong?

KIM

I was actually proven wrong. Some of our friends and family had recently built new homes with other companies and there were a lot of delays; they had to compromise on various design features so I started thinking that there was no way we would have enough funds to get what we wanted. I also thought it might be too difficult, there would be issues with the site and the costs would go beyond the point of being viable. All of these things usually happen when building a new home, but I was proven wrong on all occasions.

GH How would you describe your overall home building experience with Generation Homes?
KIM

This was our first time building with Generation Homes. When we started looking around, we did know the other building companies but we didn’t want to work with them so the fact that we hadn’t heard any negative things about Generation Homes was a great start. Walking into the showroom and meeting our sales consultant that just made it for us. It was just an instinct thing. We were really looked after and there was no pressure. There was none of that hard sell and I definitely feel this will be the start of a long-term relationship with Generation Homes. There were no dramas – everything was fixable. It was absolutely zero stress. We would definitely build with Generation Homes again and we’ve already referred them to family and friends.

GH What advice would you offer people considering building a new home or an investment property?
KIM

Even if it’s an investment property, don’t build somewhere you don’t know. Do your homework and spend time in the area so you understand the look and feel. We spent six weeks driving around Marsden Cove every weekend because we wanted to narrow down our location and make sure it ticked all the boxes. Also, think about all the contingency costs and be careful of contracts that don’t guarantee a fixed price like Generation Homes does. This is particularly important if you’re building an investment property because you’ve generally got a mortgage and you’re not going to be able to borrow more money if the project goes over budget. Make the time to do your preparation because I believe that’s where you’ll see the final result.

GH

Did you have any problems renting the property?

KIM

An ability to easily rent the property was really important to us and there’s so much potential for future growth around One Tree Point. There are various local industries so people can live and work there and we were confident it would be a safe bet. In fact, we rented it out before we finished building and we didn’t even have to advertise it. I just emailed the Marsden Point Oil Refinery and it was gone within a few days. We’ve got a lovely family from Europe renting the property while they build their own home.