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A rundown rental gets a new lease on life. Kim Dungey reports.
When the owners of this Dunedin house first stepped inside, they could see it would require major work.
Susan Peters says when she and husband David Monteath moved into the area, the home was owned by an elderly couple, but later it became a "very sad" rental.
Despite this, they saw potential and when the opportunity arose, they bought it.
"We always thought it was such a great section and had said to [the previous owner] it would make a great family home."
Dismissing advice from some to "bowl" the house, they continued to live across the road with their two teenagers while embarking on an ambitious year-long renovation.
The couple were keen for the house to be light, airy and welcoming, and to have a contemporary edge. But they also wanted to retain the character of the 235sq m four-bedroom property that had been built in 1927.
When it came to the budget, the owners prioritised the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as fixtures and fittings that are used daily. New carpet and bamboo flooring were big costs, while new plugs, wiring and LED lighting helped future-proof the property.
"The [diesel central] heating was also a large cost, so it was important that it did what we wanted."
As with many builds, the budget "went completely out the window".
Restoring or recreating original features can be costly and with this in mind, the couple opted for a mix of old and new. This meant constantly having to weigh up how far to go to "redo" what was originally there.
However, all of the home's leadlight windows were taken out and double glazed before being put back into the original sashes. Other windows were made to match or rescued from other old houses. They also added traditional ceiling roses and cornices in some areas.
The property was in "dire straits", but there was a lot to work with. It had good bones, north-facing living areas and a brand-new roof; the "openness" of the sunroom was a bonus.
Builder John McLaren, joiner Ian Abernethy and the staff of Melanie Craig Design worked mostly within the original footprint. However, part of the porch was absorbed into the master bedroom.
Another bedroom near the living areas was given a new use, becoming a snug that can be closed off when needed. The biggest change took place at the rear where the removal of walls and addition of steel beams created a large open-plan space.
Part of this is occupied by the kitchen and scullery. The rest was previously the sunroom, now transformed into a living-dining area with a wall of glass providing panoramic views of Pine Hill, Dalmore and Mt Cargill. Bifold doors lead on to a sprawling deck, with a smaller, more private deck below.
The project also included new plumbing and insulation.
Not afraid to get their hands dirty, the owners spent many nights and weekends lifting floorboards and carpet, removing scrim and painting the exterior weatherboards. While all this was happening, they were also renovating their other property in preparation for it going on the market.
"We love the space we have, but when people ask `would you do it again?', the answer is a resounding `no'," Ms Peters says. "We would build, but we would never take on another doer upper - at least not one which required the massive amount of work to make this place what it is today."
Despite the "all consuming" nature of the renovation, the end result was "definitely worth it", she adds. The house works well for them and is "very homely".
"It's a great family home and I see us staying here for a few years yet. We want to get the landscaping done and really enjoy it."
Homeowner Susan Peters’ tips for renovating. —
•Do your homework really thoroughly.
•Be honest with yourself when doing your budget. Think about how much things cost and include everything, from door handles to light fittings and switch covers.
•Don’t skimp on kitchen and bathroom joinery that you want to last a long time or componentry that you will use daily.
•Surround yourself with good people. We had a very good experience with our tradespeople, but if it’s not working out, look elsewhere.
•Be realistic about the time and energy required for a renovation. We grossly underestimated how consuming this project was going to be. An entire year of late nights and weekends stripping, sanding and painting seemed endless and with a young teenage family to take into account, it wasn’t an easy task juggling it all.