With so many of our heritage buildings lost to the violent force of Mother Nature, Shaun Bradley Builders has resurrected a historic 1920s gem from the rubble.
Having grown accustomed to the picturesque riverside location in St Martins over the past 20 years, David and Diane Stewart were determined to rebuild on the same site when the February quakes finally claimed what remained from the first quake of 2010.
Raising their family and building their lives here has blessed the couple with a treasure trove of memories. These, combined with the rich history inscribed in its walls from past generations dating back to 1927, guided the pair as they embarked on their post-quake rebuild journey.
Specialising in character homes and historic renovations and rebuilds, Shaun Bradley Builders came highly recommended by the couple’s insurance company. As with any successful building venture, Shaun explains how the planning phase is vital, especially in homes where period features are to be faithfully replicated.
To ensure the integrity of the original home was retained in the new incarnation, Shaun and his foreman John Whitworth took numerous photos and made initial sketches before it was demolished; these would prove vitally important when it came to accomplishing this objective.
Over the next eight months, regular meetings between the builder, engineer and homeowners ensured that every last detail was accounted for and attended to before agreeing upon the final document to be sent to the council for sign off.
Once council approval was received, Independent Quantity Surveyors (IQS) priced the project in consultation with Shaun, and supported him through cost negotiations with the insurance company.
Responsible for obtaining the best possible price for materials and subcontractors, IQS were guided by Shaun’s sketches and photographs of the original building in order to recreate every aspect ‘like for like’.
Although IQS Managing Director, Phillippa Goodman-Jones agrees that every build is ‘completely individual and presents its own unique set of challenges’, her own personal renovating experience has given her valuable insights into the specific building methods required to reproduce original period features, and what quality craftsmanship costs.
Also relying on photographs and sketches of the earthquake devastated, double-brick period home, draftsman Rob Frew of Bond Frew provided the engineering and design solutions for its rebuild; Rob’s structural plans forming the blueprint for the project.
Given its close proximity to the Heathcote River and susceptibility to significant liquefaction, the new incarnation demanded a solid foundation and an equally robust structure to withstand any future seismic movement.
Featuring a concrete beam and slab-on-grade foundation, the structure is supported on a geogrid reinforced gravel raft. The home’s grand entrance, arched windows and the sweeping feature chimneys employ a sturdy galvanised steel frame structure that is clad in rustic red brick – making a stunning statement on this corner riverside location.
Lending itself to restoration projects and historic rebuilds such as this one, the handsome Fendalton red bricks have been selected to perfectly replicate the original two-storey brick facade. Using re-constituted brick and recycled glass, in addition to running their kilns on 100% reclaimed fuels and oils, Canterbury Clay Bricks are proud to leave a light footprint on the environment while upholding their 50-year-old tradition of brickmaking.
Supplying and laying the bricks and brick slips to the house and garage, Simon Thelning, Company Director of S A Thelning Brick & Blocklayers, says the challenge for him and his team of qualified craftsmen was the complex detailing required around the two chimneys, the archway over the main entrance, and the quoined brickwork to the corners, which ultimately creates a truly eye-catching form.
Ray Holcroft of Holcroft Roofing has followed in the footsteps of his father, who honed his craft on many historic buildings in his homeland of Ireland. The slate on this home comes from one of the very best and oldest quarries in world. Guaranteed to last for another hundred years, the Welsh slate has been fixed with copper nails and finished with lead flashings.
Ray has added his own personal flourish to make this roof unique – his dedication to handcrafted detailing really shining through on this project. Although much of this home pays direct homage to the original in almost every respect, Ray persuaded David and Diane to give him the creative licence to integrate a special pattern around the bay window with a decorative lead flashing, which the couple love, and say ‘looks very smart’.
Owing to the numerous technical aspects of the project, Shaun was onsite daily over the course of the construction phase to foresee potential difficulties and take pre-emptive action, keeping the Stewarts abreast of all developments – from design and planning right through to completion stage.
On the inside, the only departure from the original layout involved a wall being removed and the repositioning of the skylight in the kitchen to capitalise on the north-facing sun that now floods the open-plan kitchen and dining area. A favourite spot, from which to enjoy a view into the bricked courtyard, Diane says ‘it makes such a difference to our quality of life on a daily basis.’
Shaun’s favourite aspect of this particular period home was working with timber and the various details that come with the territory when using historic building methods – which made for a rewarding journey and, ultimately, a thoroughly satisfying outcome for Diane and David.
Tasked with recreating all the timber joinery elements that give this period home its defining look, RA Hale achieved immaculate results identical to the original. Specialising in period home renovations, RA Hale authentically replicated the rich timber panelling in the foyer and stairwell, built-in wardrobes in the master bedroom, and the white tongue-and-groove ceiling in the guest bedroom, as well as all internal doors and windows, using age-old methods to create them just as they would have been nearly a century ago.
Thanks to the considerable improvements made by introducing insulation in the walls, floors and roof, double glazing and two gas fires, their home is now much warmer throughout the winter months.
With its smaller dimensions and flexible installation, the DF700 gas fireplace from Escea provided the ideal solution for the two adjoining living areas, with one fireplace in each. Its minimalist aesthetic and natural-looking fuel bed, which generates large flames with a high heat output, is equally suited to both contemporary new builds and traditional renovations and rebuilds such as this striking period home.
Ensuring effective and efficient installation of all plumbing and gas within a heritage home, Stephen Bergman, of Bergman Plumbing & Gas, says it required close collaboration between his team, the electrician, slab contractor and the builder. Working with Shaun, whose ‘old-fashioned values’ place integrity and quality above all else, made for a rewarding working relationship that delivered great results for the homeowners, says Stephen.
Once all the finishing touches had been completed, Shaun invited his building team, subcontractors and their families, together with the Stewart family, for a grand unveiling; their collective pride testament to an exceptional job.
The couple says that Shaun Bradley Builders was exemplary, as was their crew of reliable and courteous subcontractors. With excellent communication at every turn, combined with Shaun’s commitment to the finest details a period home demands, they are thrilled to have returned home, five years after the quakes. In fact, it's almost like they never left.
As if stepping back in time, this family homestead has risen triumphantly to serve as the backdrop for many more memories to be made.
Words & styling: Majka Kaiser Photography: Mick Stephenson