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This sprawling beach house south of Dunedin was a long time coming but worth the wait. Kim Dungey reports.
When Carol Williamson told someone she lived in the ugliest place in Ocean View, the person was fairly sure she knew the house she was talking about.
"She asked if it was the mustard-coloured one that looked like a slice of cheese with a ski slope roof ... " Ms Williamson says, with a laugh.
She and husband Judd de la Roche had moved into the property in 2004. While not fond of the 1970s, steel-clad A-frame, they did love the area and when the opportunity came to buy the neighbour’s home, they jumped at it.
In 2011, the couple engaged Mason and Wales architects Francis Whitaker, Stephen Loach and Matt Barbour to design a new home that would sit across both beach-front sections. Six years later, they demolished the two existing houses and moved into their garage while the house was under construction.
The long, low horizontal layers of the roof-line mirror the ocean horizon and because of the extensive use of floor-to-ceiling glazing and minimalist detailing appears to be floating.
"Home" for two winters, the existing triple garage was integrated into the design by using the new entrance as a connecting element. Once inside, visitors are ushered up a gently flowing set of stairs to the upper level where the ocean view is revealed for the first time through a large picture window.
The double-height living area separates the master suite at one end of the home from the three guest bedrooms and bathroom at the opposite end.
Cavity doors allow the couple to close off areas they are not using and there is an outdoor room complete with fireplace and operable louvres overhead.
Imported white oak features throughout but painted rough-sawn cedar ceilings up to 5m high give the "beachy" vibe the couple wanted.
A home automation system can raise and lower the blinds, open the front door and turn on the television, stereo, lights and heating.
There is also a gym room and an office.
Delivering their dream home was entrusted to Ms Williamson’s son, Zac Williams, who at the same time was building his own, 167sq m house a few doors away.
Like them, he and partner Tess Dibley were living in a garage but their’s had an outside toilet.
After a full day on site, Mr Williams would carry his tools along the street in a wheelbarrow and work on his own property — a punishing, seven-day-a-week schedule documented by TV3’s Grand Designs New Zealand.
At 350sq m, plus 270sq m of garaging and decks, the larger of the two houses might have kept four or five carpenters busy. Mr Williams took on only one other builder, which was cost effective but time-consuming: the build took 26 months.
About 85% of the home’s exterior is glazed, says Williams, the founder of Third Little Pig Homes, whose own home won a national award last year. Each set of sliding glass doors weighs more than 700kg and there are 5000 blocks in the external walls and chimneys, 7500 metres of timber in the roof, and 212cu m of concrete in the footings and slab.
A maze of trenches had to be dug for the footings and just getting through the soft sand to good ground was a challenge.
Mr de la Roche says his stepson was among a raft of young, skilful tradespeople who worked on the build. Like the architects, he did an "exceptional job".
"There’s nothing we would change."
Getting under way took a while but there are no regrets: "Our real estate business was only five years old so we decided to delay things a bit. And the house is so much better for it."
Spectacular sunrises over Green Island and the occasional sighting of dolphins and whales have made living there even more special.
"It’s been an absolute pleasure," Ms Williamson says, recalling how they used to drive home from work and imagine a "beautiful, long house" sitting in place of their "ugly" mustard one.
"We will never, ever, ever leave."