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Earthquake triggers two new builds in Northland for family of five

Earthquake triggers two new builds in Northland for family of five

Former Christchurch residents Steve and Kara Cunis recently finished their second new build with Generation Homes at One Tree Point, a coastal community near the south headland of Northland’s Whangarei Harbour.

Steve and Kara were one of many property owners to be declared “red zoned” after the February 2011 earthquakes. Their existing home, located in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs next to the Avon River, was destroyed in the earthquake and the resulting soil liquefaction prevented them from rebuilding on the site.

The young family was homeless, and within two days of the earthquake, decided to move north to be closer to Steve’s family in Northland.  

Steve and Kara knew they wanted a house and land package and researched a number of local building companies before partnering with Generation Homes Northland, who built a quality home for a fixed price in 10 weeks.    

Fast forward six years and the Cunis family realised it was time to upsize to provide more space for their three growing boys: Flynn, 9, Nate, 7, and Henry, 5.

Steve, who is the General Manager of the Northland Cricket Association, and Kara, a part-time medical receptionist and teacher aide, didn’t think twice about their decision to build once more with Generation Homes Northland. In fact their newest property is only six sections away from their first home build.

 
Quote from Steve Cunis
“You know it’s a real credit to Generation Homes that we went back to them to build our second home because it shows how good a job they did.”

Steve Cunis

GH

What attracted you to build in One Tree Point?

KARA

It’s got a really good community feel and there’s not a lot of traffic going through the area. We can go for a walk on Sunday morning and pickup three or four kids that are friends and bring them back to our house, and their parents are comfortable knowing where they are. It’s an amazing community, and a great place to raise a family.

STEVE I really like the fact that I work in town, which is only half an hour’s drive and I thoroughly enjoy my job, but it’s actually really nice to come home. My brother and I have a boat and we go fishing a lot. We also take the dogs down to the beach. We are very, very happy with the decision we made to stay in One Tree Point.

GH

Why did you decide to partner with Generation Homes?

KARA

We were looking around the One Tree Point area when we came across the Kowi Lakes subdivision where Generation Homes had a whole street. As soon as we visited the and talked to Generation Homes Regional Director David Skudder we knew it was the right choice for us. We knew what we wanted and what we were going to get for our budget with Generation Homes, so it was a no-brainer.

GH

What made you decide to build a new home as opposed to buying an existing property?

STEVE

 

We did think about buying an existing property and considered a number of options to evaluate what we could get for our budget. We just felt that the opportunity to purchase a house and land package was too good to pass up. We were a little bit nervous about our first build but the key for us was that we had been through the home building process before and knew what steps we would have to take to get our house completed, so in the end it was a really easy decision to build a new property.

GH How has your home building experience been different the second time round?

KARA

 

Our first home build was different because we were paid out by our insurance company for the damage to our property and the Government purchased all red zoned land. We were also living with Steve’s mum so we didn’t have to worry about renting and we weren’t in any huge rush. However this time round we had to sell our house before we could start building and we had to find accommodation, which was tricky. The circumstances of living and selling a home was different, but the actual build with Generation Homes was just as easy.

GH

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from your first home building experience?

KARA

The first time we built it was just that we needed a house, it was out of necessity. We had never done it before so we picked a plan that we liked, and we’d obviously come of the back of a pretty traumatic experience, so we included everything we liked from the . However this time round we have been much more selective about what flooring options we wanted and where we put each power point. It was carefully planning all the little things that made it easier for us building the second time round. It wasn’t that we didn’t like our first house because we loved it, we just needed more space with three growing boys. We also probably didn’t futureproof our first home enough. There was only one lounge room next to the dining area and the kitchen, which is great when you’ve got little kids, but now that they’re getting older we knew we wanted a house that had two lounge rooms.

“We did think about renovating the house we had and converting the garage into a rumpus room, but when we worked it out financially, it was actually going to be cheaper for us to sell and rebuild a brand new house on a bigger section than it was to renovate.” 

GH

What other variations did you include in your new home?  

KARA

It’s got a separate living area for the kids with double doors and we wanted to make our kitchen dining and lounge area a lot more open plan. We have quite a big section so we wanted to be able to look out over the section. This property was better indoor-outdoor flow than our last house.

I definitely wanted to include tiled showers because I was sick of cleaning the old plastic showers in our old house so that was non-negotiable for me. We also spent a lot more time measuring each room of the house and the plan we chose had a big grand entranceway with double doors which we didn’t need so we used that extra 2m x 2m space to make the bedrooms larger and we added an attic area above our garage to provide extra storage space.

GH

Were there any challenges to overcome during the design process?

STEVE

 

We worked really closely with David and our sales consultant Tony Watkins so we didn’t really have any challenges to overcome in the design process – it was more just the logistics of not being in your own house during the building process. That’s the biggest challenge and that’s a piece of advice I would offer to anyone. It’s being prepared and understanding that if you want the best house for your budget, you’ve got to be prepared to move twice. In terms of the actual design of the house I didn’t find anything overly tricky.

KARA

Tony definitely made a huge difference in terms of planning for things that we hadn’t thought of. For example, our kitchen initially faced the back of our section and I asked to remove the wall to the left of the kitchen or add some windows so I can see the kids while they’re outside and Tony suggested flipping the whole area around. We didn’t even know you could do that to a plan. That one decision has made all the difference because I can stand at the kitchen bench and watch over the kids, and when I eventually get my in-ground pool, it’ll go there. The whole house is so much more user-friendly and family-friendly.

GH

What colour pallet did you go for in your home?

KARA

 

We’ve gone for a lot of grey, with a dark grey carpet and a light grey tile. All the walls and doors are white, which is the same colour used in the . On the exterior we went for a dark grey-charcoal brick with goes perfectly with our black garage door and downpipes, black roof and black front door.

STEVE

We went for a much darker grey than our previous house which had a more brown-beige tone, and the feedback has been great. I know quite a few people in the building industry and every single one of them has commented how well we have done choosing our colour schemes.

“You know it’s a real credit to Generation Homes that we went back to them to build our second home because it shows how good a job they did.”

GH Did the kids impact any of your design choices?   

KARA

 

We increased the size of the shower to accommodate the boys as they grow, and we increased the size of their bathroom. We also extended the roofline from the lounge room to create a covered veranda so that if it was raining they can still go outside, get the chalk out and play handball – or in Henry’s case draw on the house! The extra concrete that we have laid is great for the boys’ backyard cricket and it gives them a space to use if the grass is out of action due to wet weather.

GH

What standout features do you love most in the house?   

KARA

 

My white subway tile splashback in the kitchen! It’s been a dream of mine for years and I’ve got so many Pinterest boards with it on there. When I came down to see how things were going, the tiler was the same contractor that helped build our first house and he remembered us which was really nice. I showed him my Pinterest boards and he adjusted the grout colour to match. I really appreciated the fact that he was so accommodating and changed that detail for me. The splashback looks amazing against the black cabinetry.

GH

What advice would you offer to other people building a home?

STEVE

 

Every homeowner wants everything to be perfect but you’ve also got to understand that perfection takes time and negotiation. If you have limited budget, you’ve got to have clear communication with your sales consultant to manage your expectations. Ultimately you need to be prepared that building a home is going to cost you money, but it’s not just your building contract you have to factor in, it’s all the money you’re going to spend while you’re renting a property or moving. It certainly adds up that’s for sure!   

KARA

 

The thing we loved most about Generation Homes is that when we signed on the dotted line, that’s the price we’re going to pay. We know people that have built recently on a large section just outside of town and every time they visited the site it ended up costing them an extra $10,000 but we had none of that with Generation Homes.  

GH

They say third times a charm – would you partner with Generation Homes again?  

STEVE

 

We can’t say thanks enough to Tony, David and our builder Phil Williams. Those three guys are just good blokes and they worked their arse off to make sure they built the house we wanted.  

KARA

Our kids go to school with our builder’s kids and he knew we were going to have teenage boys slamming doors so he double screwed the backs of the doors to protect us in the future. It’s all the little things that show just how much the Generation Homes team go above and beyond. We can’t thank them enough for what they did. It’s been a very positive experience again.