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We were very clear on what we wanted…a pavilion style modernist home, but on a budget.

Our journey started with Matrix, the then brand new modular building company. We love the look of container style glass boxes so we were really open to the concept of modular homes. Matrix had a new show home in Trentham, Upper Hutt. We were excited. It was warm, a nice style, and affordable. Suddenly the reality of a new build…and even owning our own home again seemed possible. We had sold our last house to rent the curators cottage and in the interim the lending rules had changed requiring a 20% deposit, and with increasing house prices and our increased expectations of property size, getting back into the property market was all feeling a bit impossible.

We played around with the Matrix modules and by the time we got the size and configuration we liked, looked into some flooring options, added the solar components, water and waste water systems, the quote crept up and it suddenly wasn’t looking so affordable any more. And also not worth the amount of compromises we would have to make; concrete flooring is obviously not an option with prefab modules, little hallways, low doors, no floor to ceiling windows…you know, all those really important things in life…

Ok maybe not, and definitely first world problems, but for us a new build will probably be a once in a life time opportunity, so we want to get it right. That and we’ve watched way too many grand designs with Kevin McCloud.

At this point, we made contact with a friend of a friend’s who was an architect with some excellent builds to his name. We outlined what we were after, with a optimistic size and and even more optimistic price expectation. To his credit, the architect had the decency to respond without laughing in our faces and very kindly told us he couldn’t build what we wanted for that price. We respect that and it saved everybody’s time.

So, an architect wasn’t going to be our way forward.

After lots of Google window shopping, one rainy day we decided to visit the Home Ideas Centre in Petone. I love that place. It spirals up three floors with little mini displays of home products (fire places, kitchens, roofing, windows etc). The idea is that you circle a number on a form matching the display you’re interested in and get a whole load of brochures to take away. You can also indicate whether or not you’re interested in being contacted by the display owner. On the very first floor there was the exact sort of concrete flooring we wanted and some convincing pictures of an ‘eco’ home on a lifestyle block, all appropriately named Enviro Homes. We duly circled the number ready to receive our brochures and headed on our merry way.

Next day we got a phone call from Trevor of Enviro Homes and struck up what was going to turn into a long term partnership for the design and build of our home.

Once we got our story straight on the actual size of house we were after (fluctuating wildly from 250m2 to 125m2 and landing at 172 m2 including garage), we were able to look at some examples of Enviro Homes’ work, talk general costs, and progress to the next stage of design.

Lesson # 2:

The most useful information during this time was from the Building Guide, the 2015 annual publication.

Lesson # 3:

Don’t get too wedded to an overseas example of architecture…turns out that between our building code and lacking millions of dollars, not everything is possible! But more on that later.

Useful links:

Next up… Part 3 – The design

Amber & Tony

Author Amber & Tony

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