New horizons

New horizons

Achieving the best of both worlds, this exceptional hillside home by Solid Builders offers flowing, open spaces, inside and out, while delivering breathtaking views of the city, and beyond.

They had always coveted a house on the hill. Not any old house, mind you. And, when the Canterbury Earthquakes cracked the foundations of their Fendalton home, they recognised the opportunity to go after their dream. A steep 1040sqm section on the fringes of the Port Hills presented an irresistible package: with an exciting architectural design already drawn up, it was easy to envisage the modern masterpiece that would take shape.
Nearly three decades ago, Kyle Byers cut his teeth building on the hilly terrain around Wellington before his career took him to Japan, Europe and America. Now he directs Solid Builders, a company specialising in high-end architectural residential, energy-efficient and hill builds. 
‘Building a home is a massive investment, and you want to know you are building with someone who has the experience with hillside builds’, explains Kyle. ‘There’s that unknown factor: you never know exactly what you might find when you start digging, and how long it will take to get out of the ground.’ 
From their first meeting, the couple established a solid partnership with Kyle and the team. ‘We felt completely comfortable and reassured that they could achieve what we envisioned.’ 
For the homeowners, one of the highlights through the course of the build was seeing the foundation laid and concrete floors poured. ‘The top floor is suspended and seeing that protruding from the hillside was a real milestone.’
As Kyle explains, the cantilevered concrete floor was poured into a tin tray with steel mesh and steel supporting beams. ‘It was quite imposing when that went in. But, as the cladding went on, the design softened up.’

On the exterior, solid plaster intersects with large expanses of glass. Redrock Plastering installed the Rockcote Integra façade on the house, garage and around the courtyard, which is dug into the hillside. As director, Manu Toailoa says, ‘I’ve been in this trade for a long time and I know perfection when I see it’.
The homeowners commend the team at Redrock for their tireless work ethic and attention to detail. ‘They are fastidious workers – and are back on the job now, completing a feature letterbox.’
The upper level comprises the kitchen, family room, media room, master bedroom and en suite. While downstairs is the laundry, library/lounge, guest bedroom and what the homeowner calls his hobby room – full of electronic gear! 
This 362sqm home may occupy a steep section, but, as builder Kyle Byers points out, it delivers ‘the feel of living on a flat section’, with easy access and wonderful flow throughout the interior spaces that spill out onto the deck. 
‘So many hillside homes are rabbit warrens – with different levels and narrow entrances, where you step down a garden path to get to an entertaining area. Inside this home, you don’t feel like you’re on a hill – it’s straight out onto the patio for alfresco dining.’
Seeking a distinctive, immaculate, coherent finish, the consultants from Brymac Tiles helped the couple in their selection of Italian Bagnoregio Anthracite glazed porcelain floor tiles that span and unite different living zones. 
Laid in brick and herringbone patterns, with faultless execution by the team at NZ City Tiling, the rectangular Country bathroom tiles in ash blue are at once subtle and stunning. The tactile irregularities produced during the firing process, create the effect of rippling water, which comes alive as light skims across the surface.
A home designed for the daily comings and goings of family life, and for entertaining guests, the nexus of the living spaces is a subtly sophisticated kitchen. Dedicated to manufacturing quality contemporary furniture and joinery, using the highest quality materials, Evolution Interiors manufactured and installed joinery for the kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, bedroom and living spaces. 
For director Karl Kitchingham, ‘it was a pleasure working with a couple with such a clear vision of what they wanted’. He also commends Kyle and the team at Solid: ‘it was enjoyable working on such a well-managed site’. 
The couple commissioned Piersons Refrigeration and Air Conditioning to install two ducted Mitsubishi heat pump systems and one high-wall one to heat and cool the entire house. Ensuring the systems were inconspicuous and quiet was imperative; as was fitting the air conditioning units in the limited ceiling space available. As Managing Director, Craig Pierson, says, ‘it was a challenge, but we did it; and, as a result, the interior is impeccable’.  

ith a penchant for innovation and a real knack for problem solving the homeowner has enjoyed getting his home automation system up and running – a process that is ongoing. ‘It is a hobby’, he says – ‘one of many!’
For Mike Franklin, The Electrician, ‘on any project, the objective is to make the home as liveable as possible, and we always do a walk-through with the clients in order to get this right.’ 
What made this job different was the way the homeowner collaborated with his electrician as well as the team from Piersons in order to achieve his unique vision of a smart home. As Mike explains, ‘the blinds are all electrically operated – which he can activate from his phone, while four shutter windows upstairs have electric actuators so that they may be opened to let the heat out the top of the roof.’ 
There are so many details that go into any build, and Kyle Byers ensures that he is onsite each build, each week. ‘I’m not the sort of director that clients never see.’ And he surrounds himself in people who share his passion for construction and commitment to his clients. Quick to commend the ‘excellent job’ of foreman Tim Nelson and construction manager, Murray Henderson, Kyle emphasises that ‘we have loyalty and commitment across the whole team’.
‘Between Tim and Kyle, the workmanship and attention to detail on this home is outstanding’, say the homeowners. 
With adroit skill and strategic thinking, Kyle is a builder who enjoys a challenge – ‘when you challenge yourself, you get a result’. A pretty special result, at that.  
And, while he is brimming with innovative ideas and creative solutions, the homeowner has no plans to build again anytime soon. ‘I have enough hobbies to keep me busy’, he says. And, with a spectacular home on the hill, what more could the couple want. 

Words: Kate Barber    
Styling & production: Majka Kaiser & Comber and Comber
Photography: Mick Stephenson

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The Christchurch vernacular

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