Paradise reinvented

Paradise reinvented

Takahe Construction specialise in building and repairing architecturally-designed houses. The renovation of this bespoke home challenged and rewarded their expertise.


When the owners of this property were considering earthquake repairs, they seized the opportunity to not only return their home to its pre-quake glory, but to also renovate the magnificent home to create an ‘as new’ feel and ambience. They invited MAP Architects to translate their wishes into working drawings and then sought out a building company that could deliver on their vision. They chose Takahe Construction, a company with a well-earned reputation for their specialised building expertise, craftsmanship and experience working on high-end architectural projects.

Founders and co-directors Calvin Cocks and Tim Forman are more than master builders and business partners. They met as five-year-olds at school and have remained life-long friends. In 2010 they merged their two respective building companies and since then Takahe Construction has gone on to win numerous awards and medals. This home makeover earned them a prestigious Supreme Renovation over $1 million award at the recent House of the Year competition.

The complex renovation required highly specialised technical input from the outset. As a result of significant earthquake damage, a portion of the substantial 2750 square metre site required re-levelling before renovations and extensions could begin. The home was mechanically re-levelled using the SmartLift System that saw two thirds of the two storey, block-walled home jacked up and reinstated on new foundations. Designed and patented in Christchurch in response to the earthquakes, the SmartLift repair methodology is the most accurate available in the market today and has the added advantage that, should there be any further seismic activity, adjustments can be made to the foundations.

A team of approved Rockcote applicators from Accurate Plastering was engaged to undertake significant strengthening and replastering work required as a result of earthquake damage.

In addition to a full makeover of the large six-bedroom, six-bathroom family home, the clients chose to replace and extend their swimming pool, add a pool house, resurface the existing tennis court, upgrade the indoor squash court and spectators’ gallery, and replace the dated spa room with a fully equipped gymnasium. Stone and tiles were supplied by Designastyle, local importers of natural stone and marble from the finest quarries around the world. Stone cobbles line the driveway, Atlantic Stone has been used on exterior patios and around the pool and Carrara marble is a feature of the bathrooms.

No expense has been spared in ensuring the renovation maximised the amenity of every feature of the property. An original exterior block wall that separated the pool from the tennis court has been replaced by glass so that the visual impact of each leisure zone is unimpeded. Pioneer Pools removed the old pool, replacing it with a ceramic tile lined pool. The pool and the spa are heated by a heat pump and although both the spa and pool are independent units, both have variable speed jets and sand filters. Temperature controls, along with the sophisticated reticulation and filtration system are integrated into the home automation system. The pool has an automated pool cover and revolutionary swim jets from Australian supplier Remco.

For year-round entertaining, a fully automated louvre roof system was added to the outdoor area. Johnson & Couzins designed, manufactured and installed concertina sky louvres – a unique fully retractable system developed by the Christchurch based company five years ago. The louvre fins open, close and can be retracted at the touch of a button.

Terry Wyatt, owner of Soundline, was tasked with installing the complex home automation system that operates the louvres, lighting, heating, audiovisual installations, security features and blinds. The challenge was to ensure the system was easy to operate and totally unobtrusive – no easy feat considering the number of systems and devices involved. Terry is justifiably proud of the outcome; the operating system is virtually undetectable and requires minimal technical expertise.

Calvin and Tim of Takahe Construction concede the two year project was challenging and exciting in equal measure as the homeowners, along with every one of the professionals involved in the project, collaborated on all elements of the design and detailing. “It was a team effort. The client was heavily involved with approving and changing details as the project evolved, along with the architect, the interior designers, and us as the main contractors.” That level of client engagement inspired the team to make a special effort in meeting and exceeding the homeowners’ expectations, as well as their own.

“We valued and appreciated our clients’ passion and eye for detailing. They wanted to make the house very special and we all shared that mutual desire and satisfaction in making the final product outstanding,” Calvin says.

Managing the logistics of the many tradespeople and subcontractors involved in the project required specialised scheduling. Lucas Abbot, the project foreman, admits, “At times it was organised chaos on site with so many trades working on different aspects of the job at one time. At one stage we were breaking out structural block walls and installing structural steel in one area, while pre-wiring and lining walls in other areas.”

Wisker Contracting, a painting, plastering and decorating company with more than 25 years’ experience in the Christchurch market undertook the exterior and interior painting and interior plastering as well as hanging wallpaper and vinyl throughout the home. The precision work included hanging wide vinyls and plastering surfaces to the highest L5 level of finish, in keeping with the standard of excellence envisioned by the homeowners.

The entire ground floor slab was crack injected, and existing overlay timber floors were removed and replaced with oak herringbone flooring. The existing interior was stripped back to a blank canvas and totally redone, including new oak ceilings in the formal living room and family/media room. High ceilings are complemented by expanses of marble flooring and a sleek feature skylight. From the majestic marble lined entry lobby through to the spacious living rooms, the elegant bathrooms and the guest suites, luxury and comfort underpinned every choice of furnishing and finish.

Impeccable styling and attention to detail is evident inside and out. The placement and positioning of structural steel, stainless steel strip drains, lighting fixtures, heating units, sound system outlets, mechanical blinds and louvres were very deliberate. “We all debated at length to achieve a flow of the architectural vision throughout,” Calvin says.

Now that the transformation is complete, the homeowners and their many guests are loving living and playing in this sublime suburban paradise reinvented.

Words: Ady Shannon Photography: Phillip Atkinson

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