'Rollercoaster of emotions': Britten Stables sale spurred by mortality, lifestyle change

Isabelle and Tim Weston with children Adaline and Raphalea. Photo: Supplied
Isabelle and Tim Weston with children Adaline and Raphalea. Photo: Supplied
After a difficult few years from the Covid-19 pandemic and a sense of mortality creeping in, Isabelle and Tim Weston made the tough decision to sell the house that once belonged to her father, Kiwi inventor John Britten.

Britten Stables was lovingly restored by the Westons after it was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake.

The property, at 48 Matai St West, in Fendalton, is being marketed for sale by Harcourts agent Alison Aitken by way of deadline treaty, closing November 4.

The property, which has a 2019 RV of $3.84m, was bought by Britten in the late 1970s. The Westons have since turned the stables into a luxury accommodation business.

Isabelle Weston told the Herald, since the restoration and opening of the business, their lives have been incredibly busy.

Wanting to spend more time with their young children Adaline, 6, and Rafaella, 1, they have decided on a "dramatic change of lifestyle".

"It's a roller coaster of emotions. I feel really, really sad but also relieved with the decision I've made to prioritise the kids.

"It sits uneasily with you as a mother when you really want to give them more when you can't."

The Grand Designs star home is up for sale in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied
The Grand Designs star home is up for sale in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied
Weston said the decision to sell was influenced by Tim's upcoming birthday when he will turn 43. Her father John passed away at age 45.

"Life can be really short. We hope ours aren't and we certainly don't want to miss out on the kids' foundational years but that is what's happening because we are so busy."

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been "devastating" on the business, she said.

"Every time there's a lockdown, it's a serious setback on revenue but also emotionally.

"When you invest so much into running your business and then everything is cancelled, It's a little bit heartbreaking to see it go and then you just have to start again really."

The spectacular glass conservatory and curved marble staircase. Photo: Supplied
The spectacular glass conservatory and curved marble staircase. Photo: Supplied
During the first lockdown, revenue dropped 97 per cent. That rose to 70 per cent before the recent lockdown.

"The first one, that was just devastating. We didn't know what we would do then.

"We have managed to build it back up but then this second one. It is a bit exhausting especially when you're managing little people at the same time."

Weston said they anticipated being able to take every second weekend off from the business but Covid-19 put a spanner in the works.

"We were getting to a really good point with the business but then Covid happened so we don't have the luxury of having that as an option.

"So this is what we've decided to do, just really simplify things."

They are not sure exactly what price they want for the house but expect it to go for more than its RV.

"We would love a New Zealander to buy it. It was interesting cause dad built the bikes here and it was always busy but we didn't have a business going from it so it was solely enjoyed as a family home.

"It is lovely to be able to open it up to lots of people but it would be nice to see the new owners really enjoy the property and the magic as a family."

Isabelle and Tim Weston with children, Adaline and Raphalea. Photo: Supplied
Isabelle and Tim Weston with children, Adaline and Raphalea. Photo: Supplied
The couple's efforts to bring the Victorian Stables back to life featured in an episode of Grand Designs NZ in 2018.

When asked if they would ever consider doing another episode, Weston said no they would not.

"We are certainly not afraid to do something interesting with our next home, we definitely won't be living in a standard home because it just wouldn't suit us after this project."

Unlike other regions around the country, which are starting to show signs of fatigue, Canterbury's housing market is continuing to grow.

Figures from the OneRoof-Valocity House Value Index show a year ago, the average property value in Christchurch was $591,000, up just $59,000 on the year before.

The gain over the past 12 months, however, has added an extra $160,000 to the price of a typical house in the city - $58,000 of which has been in the past three months.

For first home buyers, that has pushed a 20 per cent deposit requirement to $150,200 - up $32,000 on last year's figure.

A year ago, just nine Christchurch suburbs had an average property value of more than $1 million. Now there are 18 suburbs in the $1 million club.

The region's relatively affordable prices are fuelling demand, with first home buyers by far the biggest buying group.

They accounted for 40.4 per cent of all registrations in the three months to October 1 - up slightly from 39.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, and 38.3 per cent in the first quarter.

For more information on the property, visit OneRoof.

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