Buyers didn't know dream villa starred in Grand Designs

The Timmermans-Delves outside their new home. Photo: Supplied
The Timmermans-Delves outside their new home. Photo: Supplied
UK couple Greg and Sophie Timmermans-Delves didn’t know the Kiwi house they had set their hearts on was famous.

The pair had recently sold up their award-winning Garden Centre business and had shifted to New Zealand, realising a long-held dream of establishing a life for themselves in Otago.

The couple saw a striking two-storey Queen Ann-style villa in Queenstown Lakes on the cover of a magazine and immediately got in touch with the listing agent Ben Terry.

At the time they were unaware of the house’s distinguished pedigree: That it had starred in the 2017 season of Grand Designs New Zealand.

“Ben kindly forwarded us an email with a link to the Grand Designs program, which we watched on our phones one night. The fact it was relocated and then rebuilt, that just added to our excitement,” Greg told OneRoof.

In the show, previous owners Jamie and Melissa McMurtrie rescue the house from the rubble of the Christchurch earthquakes, transport it more than 400km to Gibbston and then spend a year putting it back together.

Previous owners Jamie and Melissa McMurtrie with Grand Designs host Chris Moller in front of the...
Previous owners Jamie and Melissa McMurtrie with Grand Designs host Chris Moller in front of the renovated villa. Photo: Three
The McMurtries sold the villa in 2018 for $2.141 million. The Timmermans-Delves picked it up in February for $3.6m after the former owners put it on the market following a decision to relocate to Australia.

“It’s got such incredible character and the history behind it as well. We love the fact that it was saved and it wasn’t demolished. It’s such a great location to have a house,” Greg said.

The couple, who have two children, Monty, 16, and Sophie, 7, told OneRoof they moved fast to buy the property.

“It was a deadline sale, but we’d actually agreed on the sale before the deadline. There were negotiations over Christmas and then it all fell into place.”

The couple said they first fell in love with New Zealand 15 years ago while on a trip from the UK. They decided on the spot back then they wanted to relocate.

“We wanted to live here. Everyone always says that the geography is stunning but we’ve always liked the Kiwi attitude to life – the work-life balance,” Sophie said.

However, shifting countries wasn’t straightforward. “It’s taken us this long to get our business to a place where we could sell it and then Covid-19 ruined it for a bit because it took us two-and-a-half years to get the visa,” Greg said.

The couple had been looking at properties on the other side of Queenstown, around Bob’s Cove, so the Grand Designs villa on Bluff Lane in Gibbston was a surprise.

“We came over in November last year and saw a lot of properties. We saw the house on Bluff Lane on a bit of a whim. It was an open house and we were going around some other properties. She wasn’t on our radar at all but we loved her instantly,” Greg said.

The couple said the villa was a standout, more so as they had been expecting to buy something more modern in style.

“We were completely at the end of the spectrum but the villa sort of reminded us of Sophie’s family home in the UK – a large Georgian house that we re-developed," Greg said.

Sophie said the community was another plus. “We met some Gibbston residents at a meeting on Sunday. Everyone’s been really friendly and welcoming. One of our next-door neighbours lent us a car for the first couple of weeks.”

The couple said their furniture from the UK was still making its way to New Zealand but the previous owners had left behind quite a few things for them to use. Friends had also helped out.

“We’ve got beds, pots, pans, bed linens, towels, and all the essentials. Although we haven’t got a sofa, we’ve been lent a kitchen table to use from a friend,” Sophie said.

“I think we’re going to be very happy here.”

Sophie said the couple’s long-standing friendship with New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty agent Steph McMeeken had helped with their transition to Kiwi life.

“We’ve kept in touch with her, seen her a couple of times and she’s the one that lent us a table.”

By Merewai Durutalo,