Busy parents Kerry and Rebecca Stevens-Clow are one of the first families to build a Generation Homes property in Taupo’s new-to-market subdivision Huka Heights. The development ticked all the boxes due to its close proximity to Taupo and nearby mountain-bike trails.
Rebecca, who is originally from the United Kingdom, met Kerry in his hometown of Taupo while she was backpacking through New Zealand in the late 90s. Fast forward 18 years and the happily married couple have two children together – Ben, 9, and Keira, 6 – and Kerry’s eldest daughter Mikayla, aged 20.
They built their first home in Kinloch, a small rural town located 20 kilometres northwest of Taupo, but the challenges of having young children and travelling long distances to work prompted a change of scene. The couple thoroughly canvassed the Taupo area to find the perfect location to build a highly functional four-bedroom family home and quickly settled on Huka Heights.
Paul made it work. He completely understood what we wanted to achieve and nailed the brief. The plan just worked so the whole design process was really easy.
Kerry and Rebecca Stevens-Clow
|GH||Why did you partner with Generation Homes to build your new property?|
One rainy Sunday afternoon we visited a showhome for another building company just to be nosey and we thought ‘wow this is the house we want’, but they didn’t have any sections available. Then I heard an advert on the radio for Generation advertising Huka Heights in Taupo. We made an appointment with Generation Homes Regional Director Paul Marshall and talked about the house we’d looked through. Then we visited a Generation showhome in Tauranga and realised our dream home was a bit of a mixture of both properties. Paul understood exactly what we wanted from the outset and presented a number of options to us. The final design suited our needs perfectly.
What key features were you looking for in a house?
We wanted to build a home with an open-plan layout, but we still wanted separate spaces for us and the kids. Having two lounge areas was really important. We also wanted the kids to have decent sized bedrooms so they could grow into them. My parents also come over from the UK every now and then so we wanted the flexibility of having a fourth/guest bedroom.
How we entered the property was another important feature because we didn’t want to walk through our front door and straight into a kitchen or lounge room. Our entranceway can be shut off from the rest of the house so people can walk in without actually seeing the main living areas. We put an extra high-pitched ceiling in the entrance to make feel bigger. It’s a really great space.
|GH||What attracted you to build in a new-to-market community development like Huka Heights?|
|KERRY||Well there’s no community at the moment because we’re the only ones here! In saying that we have met a lot of people who stop to have a chat about where they’ve purchased a section in the development. Looking at who we’ve talked too, Huka Heights is going to have a very diverse community, with younger and older families, retirees and different cultures, so it’s going to be a really good mix of people.|
|GH||How did you find the design process?|
|REBECCA||We had to fiddle with the layout a little bit because the original plan was too long and it didn’t fit on our section, but Paul made it work. He completely understood what we wanted to achieve and nailed the brief. The plan just worked so the whole design process was really easy.|
|GH||Tell us about the outdoor features of the property?|
|REBECCA||The house is positioned in the middle of the section because we wanted to fit a boat on one side and have the family garden on the other. Our dining area and a family room both have sliding doors, which open onto an outdoor entertaining area. We mainly landscaped the front of the property, so the backyard is very simple. It’s mostly grass because we wanted to have a generous space for the kids.|
|KERRY||We also had to cater for a new puppy. We sectioned the yard so that the dog can be on one side without it ruining the lawns on the family side. We positioned the garden to get the sun from sunrise until sunset. We’re not big on gardening so it’s all very low maintenance.|
|GH||Having dual living areas were a key component of your build – what other design features were important to you?|
|KERRY||Our formal lounge area is at the front of the property, and it’s sectioned off with a large cavity slider. It was a really good move to have a cavity slider installed because it’s a great space saver instead of having open doors everywhere. We also went for a galley-style kitchen with a large walk-in pantry. The family area is positioned on the other side of the kitchen with big double doors that open to the backyard so the kids can just muck around and have fun. It’s a really great space for them to play.|
|REBECCA||In the master bedroom, we put in another cavity slider to our walk-in wardrobe because our last house had a door and it was just ridiculous. Every time you opened the door you couldn’t put stuff behind it. The cavity slider is a much better use of space.|
What colour schemes did you use in the property?
In the kitchen, we’ve got a grey marble-effect gloss benchtop, which contrasts really nicely with our white cabinetry. We got on really well with all our subcontractors and we’d always catch-up with them when we came to see what progress had been made. The tiler actually suggested to me that we do a brick-effect with our splashback so we used plain white tiles with a dark grey grout and it looks awesome. I never would have picked that by myself so it was really cool to talk to him and get some different ideas.
We carpeted the lounge, dining and family room and tiled through the kitchen and entrance way. The tiles are a creamy colour with a subtle grey fleck through them, while the carpets are dark grey. We’ve gone for white architraves and doors, with a grey/beige colour on the walls.
Outside, the bricks are very dark grey and our roof is a similar coloured steel. The garage doors are a slightly off-white colour so it wasn’t such a bright contrast. We knew a neutral palette would suit us and when it’s your home, you can always change it later.
Is their any particular feature in the home you love most?
|KERRY||For me, it’s our extra-large garage because I can fit all of our mountain bikes in there. We’re a keen mountain-biking family and we’re probably 150 metres away from a track. The garage was a real bonus because we didn’t plan to have a larger garage. Paul just worked it in for us so the house had everything we wanted.|
|GH||Did you have to overcome any challenges during the building process?|
|REBECCA||We sold our house in July last year and we moved into a rental property, but it was only available until 18 December. The title for our block of land was issued a lot later than everyone had anticipated, and we had to have the title before we could submit our plans to Council, so we ended up being under quite a bit of pressure to get the house finished before Christmas. The Taupo rental market is horrific, there’s just nothing available.|
|KERRY||We were potentially going to end up homeless for Christmas, but the Generation Homes team worked around the clock to get it finished. They went above and beyond for us. It worked out perfectly because we were able to move straight out of the rental and into our new home right before Christmas.|
|GH||Did you have any preconceived notions about building the second time round?|
People say that building a house is the most stressful thing that you can do, and if you’re marriage can survive building a house, it can survive anything. But our experience building with Generation Homes wasn’t stressful. It was so easy.
Quite often we looked at the property and thought ‘we’re not going to be in before Christmas’, so we’d ask Paul and he would always reassure us that everything was on track – and at the end of the day we’re not builders so we didn’t know. He promised us that we would be in before Christmas and he was right.
|GH||What advice would you offer to other people about building a new property?|
|KERRY||Talk to people who have recently built to find out about their building experience because they will give you tips on all the little things you don’t even think to consider.|
|REBECCA||Imagine your furniture in a room and think about where you’re going to plug the vacuum cleaner in. It sounds stupid but it’s actually really important if you want to build a practical and functional home. You should be able to vacuum your house and not have to plug it in five times. We spent a lot of time at the property drawing out where our furniture would go with chalk as soon as the frames went up. This gave us a really good understanding of how our interior spaces would work and it meant we could make last-minute changes to the placement of lights and power points.|
|GH||What do your friends and family think of the build?|
|REBECCA||Everyone really likes it. One of our close friends is actually a project manager for another building company and she was really impressed with the property.|
|KERRY||We can’t speak highly enough of Generation Homes. Everyone went out of their way to do everything they could for us and we appreciate everything they’ve done. Paul was always prepared and answered our questions straight away so we never had to worry. We would definitely partner with Generation Homes again – that’s a no brainer.|