Rising to the challenge

Rising to the challenge

Building a new home can be a daunting prospect, especially when the project comes at the end of a long negotiation phase. DJ Hewitt makes the journey as smooth as possible, for everyone involved.


When the owners of a home deemed a rebuild finally settled with their insurance company, the highlight of the protracted negotiations was the offer of DJ Hewitt as their recommended builder. Some years earlier they had watched a team from DJ Hewitt construct a new home for their Mt Pleasant neighbours and they had been especially impressed by the work ethic, attention to detail and professionalism of the team involved. “We were very pleased to have Daryl in charge of our project,” the owner says. “We knew he had a great reputation and we had witnessed how reliable and professional his builders were.”

The decision to replace their home came after several years of toing and froing and the couple were more than a little ground down by the lengthy negotiation process. From the initial meeting with Daryl Hewitt, they felt confident that the rebuild would be well managed and executed. Now that they are living in their new home overlooking the estuary and South Shore beyond, they can reflect on the positive and stress-free experience of building, eased by Daryl, his wife Tara (an interior designer) and their team.

The new home occupies the original footprint of the previous home but the interior floor plan has been modified to include three bedrooms and large open living areas better suited to take advantage of the views and sun on the elevated site. Trevor Stevens Excavations was engaged to demolish the existing home and to prepare the section for building to begin. Trevor says the site was a little awkward – the property is on a shared driveway – but the constraints of access did not faze the excavators who are specialists in hill work and rock breaking.


Long before the excavation team arrived on site, Daryl was working collaboratively with drainage specialist John Cooper from Flo-Rite, to conduct a detailed analysis of the existing drains and storm water systems. John says the job was “quite complicated” and beyond the initial assessment analysis he conducted, John and his team returned at several scheduled intervals to install the drainage in sections.

Site excavations mean the two-storey home opens out to garden on both levels; downstairs three bedrooms open out to front-facing landscaped garden and on the upper level, the living area opens out to a sheltered rear courtyard. Extensive glazing offers views through the living rooms from the courtyard.

The owner says she is “not a visual person” and while she knew she wanted white tiles and walls, Tara helped immensely with narrowing down the almost overwhelming choices available for every aspect of the interior and structure. “Tara was really helpful. She had some great recommendations and many specialised contacts who were able to guide us through the selection process. We didn’t realise just how many factors there were to consider during the project,” the owner says.

The master bedroom features an impressive purpose designed walk-in robe including a specialty makeup desk, complete with hidden mirrors. Joinery throughout the home was all custom-designed by Lyall Park Joinery, a local company that specialises in high-end architectural builds. Mark Birdling, managing director, was involved in the manufacture of the joinery that included the kitchen, scullery, bathroom vanities and the wardrobe fit-out which has been tailored for the owners’ specific requirements. A dark-stained oak veneer was recommended in preference to the owners’ original desire for black lacquer. Mark says, “The dark oak is rich and almost black, however it is more user friendly as it does not mark as readily as black lacquer.”

The generous ensuite is fully tiled and an egg-shaped bathtub with a floor-mounted faucet is perfectly positioned to take in the view from a strategically placed floor-to-ceiling window. Large format porcelain tiles on the floor – rework Multifog – have been used in a smaller format on a feature wall.

Tiles were supplied by Brymac Tiles after careful deliberation by the owners. For the main living areas including the entry foyer, kitchen, dining, scullery and powder room, they chose a large format (600 x 600) matt finish, modern Italian porcelain tile Purestone Grigio Natural. On the balcony they opted for the Piemme Urban Grigio tile that was ordered specially.


The entry lobby features a rich, textured chocolate-coloured wallpaper backdrop. An impressive angled staircase with frameless glass balustrading leads to the upper level. The internal stairwell balustrades are fixed with stainless anchors and a stainless handrail. Exterior glass balustrades on the upper decks replicate the same clean, frameless design, minimising any intrusion to the outstanding views. Glass balustrading, the stair handrails, coloured splashbacks, mirrors and frameless glass shower partitions were all supplied by Glassforce.

Paul Lally, owner operator of Broomfield Quality Stoppers, was responsible for interior plastering throughout the home. The finish is impeccable as evidenced by the flawless finish in the stairwell where natural light would show any imperfections. Paul says, “The floating staircase was quite tricky to work around and we used wide joints to ensure there was no shadowing. The builders did a great job and that makes our job easier.”

Tiles line the lower half of the stairs and carpet from the midway landing. Dominion Flooring supplied the solution-dyed nylon from one of their most popular ranges; Okiwi Bay by Feltex. The soft, mid grey toned (Stone) pile shows minimal tracking and perhaps most importantly for this sun-drenched home, is fade- and stain-resistant. Flooring throughout the home is a combination of tiles in the utility areas, and carpet in the lounge, upstairs foyer and bedrooms.

Bright white interior ceilings and walls reflect the sunlight during the day and interior feature lighting by night. Painting was done by Greytone Painters and Decorators and co-owners Graham Wilson and Tony McKenzie were on site with their team, achieving an immaculate finish. The 10mm negative detailing above the skirting and around each door frame required a high level of expertise, as did the detail around the feature staircase.


The open-plan kitchen and dining area is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the superb views. Skylights flood the space with sunlight and the light-stained American oak breakfast bar provides warmth and contrast to the white composite benchtop and combination white and dark cabinets and shelving. In the scullery, bifold windows open out to the courtyard. Recessed doors can be pulled to close off the space but the owners rarely find the need to separate the main kitchen from the utility area where open shelves display a range of catering and kitchen accessories.

The owner had a scrapbook of magazine cuttings featuring design concepts she had seen and loved. Daryl and Tara were able to make recommendations to ensure the design decisions reflected the aesthetic aspirations of the owners as well as their lifestyle and environment.

The owner says, “Daryl is amazing. He is like a human calculator when it comes to making recommendations. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the costs and advantages and disadvantages of every building decision. We liked the idea of wooden slatted exterior features. Daryl suggested we pick aluminium to avoid ongoing staining and maintenance issues. He also suggested we use glass balustrades in front of our sea-facing sliders, in preference to a wrap-around deck. We love the Juliette balconies as we can open up our entire living room area and avoid the easterly.”

For Daryl and his team, sharing their comprehensive building and design expertise and product knowledge to guide clients through their building project is fundamental to their company ethos. “We respect our clients and we share their passion for their home. A project like this is a journey, and we take pride in making that journey as uncomplicated as possible for our clients. The owners were great to work alongside. They had a clear understanding of the process and how minor tweaks can impact a budget. Our job is to present all the factors involved in each decision and how the use of certain products can impact or minimise situations in the future,” Daryl says.

The robust block and plaster home has been engineered to withstand future seismic activity, is thermally efficient and has a fully integrated heating and entertainment system. Powell Fenwick was responsible for the design of all structural aspects of the building including roof and floor framing, concrete block work, foundations and bracing required to create a like-for-like rebuild of the original home. The new home includes concrete block walls, a suspended concrete floor, concrete ground floor slab and a timber roof; all supported with large amounts of steel reinforcing designed to ensure the structure, with large openings, is fully braced.

The home is plastered with a Rockcote masonry render system and the textured finish is painted with a Resene product X200. Julian Robertson from Get Plastered worked on site with his team to achieve a high standard of finish on the home, garage and garden wall structures. The narrow access drive necessitated tight project management to ensure that all the contractors involved were able to have site access as per the predetermined schedule.

Larry Thomas of Thomas Roofing, like Julian, committed to the project plan to ensure the roofing membrane was applied at the time allocated, avoiding project delays or access problems. Ardex Shelterseal HD5000 was used to damp-proof all of the lower level concrete block retaining walls including behind the stand-alone garage. This system requires specific processes to ensure there is no ingress of water into the building. Ardex Butynol in Dove Grey was used on the roofs. Despite the inherent challenges of multi-level roofing and internal guttering systems, the high standard of substrate preparation by the DJ Hewitt team ensured a smooth and efficient application process for the roofers and an aesthetically appealing, highly robust, roof finish.

Hagley Windows and Doors provided aluminium joinery from their residential suite joinery range Vantage, the biggest selling range of windows and doors in the New Zealand market. The owners selected the higher specification insulation glazing of Low E glass with the unit filled with Argon gas to enhance insulation performance and reduce heat loss. Grey tint glazing was also used in certain areas for privacy and to reduce glare in the sun-drenched home.

Negative detailing around the skirting and doorways and no architraves around the windows were features of the original home that the owners wanted to replicate. The double garage is separated from the home and angled to facilitate easy access from the narrow driveway. Landscaping has been designed to complement the home and freestanding exterior walls provide privacy and shelter.

The owners love their new living environment and look forward to watching work unfold on neighbouring properties. Following the success of their project, DJ Hewitt is already undertaking new commissions in the area secured from word-of-mouth recommendations.

Words: Ady Shannon Photography: Mick Stephenson and Jamie Armstrong

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