Andrew Burt from Strongline Projects wasn't sure he had time to build his own home - but once convinced, the project went like clockwork with outstanding results.
It’s everyone’s dream house-build; on time and on budget. Andrew and Sandie Burt’s stunning Church Bay home certainly ticked all the boxes with its stunning location, quality materials, and excellent builders. It certainly helped that the homeowner is the managing director at Strongline Projects, a Christchurch-based commercial construction company, and has 25 years of building experience under his belt.
Sandie came across the section in late 2016 when the couple was looking to move from their previous north Canterbury home. Despite Andrew saying he was “too busy to build”, they found themselves drawn to the site every time they visited the bay; eventually deciding it was the perfect location for them. So, after completing the design with Inline Architecture and the consenting and planning processes, construction began in May 2018. Just seven months later they moved into their completed home and enjoyed a glass of well-earned champagne, shared with 40 guests on the deck. “We love what we have created,” states Sandie. “And I love how the view is always changing. Different sea colours, cloud formations, hillside hues.”
What is staggering about this build is the high level of attention to detail that has been achieved in such a short build timeframe. The postcard views that are captured throughout the home are divine. Sliding glass doors mimic the colours of the sea with automated blinds set into the ceiling so that the full expanse of the view can be enjoyed. A reflective kitchen splashback brings these views into another area of the home allowing those working in the kitchen to enjoy the view despite facing away from it. This is a home full of subtlety and surprises.
So, what is the point of difference that makes this build such a triumph? Andrew puts his success down to having a problem-solving mindset, being able to manage the design process, and selecting the right consultants and contractors. “You’ve got to understand what the contractors need – their lead time, their resources, and what needs to have happened first before they come on site, so there are no delays. And of course, when you stay on time, you generally stay on budget,” Andrew says.
The design brief to Cameron and Kelly Pluck of Inline Architecture, was to create a contemporary family home that fully captured the 270-degree, magnificent harbour views. The concept arose from Andrew and Sandie’s idea of a series of boxes sitting into the hill, with some of them cantilevered to give the illusion of reaching outwards towards the water. Sandie wanted a bach-like feel, and it had to be warm and inviting. Inline Architecture designed the 338 square metre home to meet their clients’ ambitious brief, architectural designer Kelly Pluck says, “We listened to their needs and wants, understood and challenged their brief, and worked as a team; this approach saw the build executed to an exceptionally fast timeframe and to a very high quality.”
Expansive and light-filled, the home comprises four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two generous living areas opening onto hardwood decks, garage, laundry, and office. Every room has a stunning view of the Port Hills, with the living/dining area and main bedrooms looking down into Church Bay in the foreground, out to Quail Island in the Harbour, and all are framed by the Port Hills in the background. The stunning Kwila ‘infinity’ decks, cleverly constructed to code without requiring handrails or balustrade gives unimpeded views and seem to draw the water even closer.
On entering the home through the ocean coloured entry door, your eye is immediately drawn to the stunning American Oak staircase hovering off the wall, supported discreetly on a central steel beam. The stairs were “technically challenging” for VIP Steel, but its skilled staff overcame these with a little ingenuity. Its experienced transport team had no issues getting the steel over to Church Bay and the team from VIP Steel are proud of their quality workmanship. VIP Steel and sister company VIP Frames and Trusses shop-detailed, manufactured, and delivered all the steel beams and portal frames, along with the prefabricated timber frames and roof trusses which went together seamlessly on site as the structure rapidly took shape. This enabled them to have more situational control, hence ensuring everything worked as one. “Our involvement is for the structural skeleton of homes, but it’s always special knowing you helped contribute to an amazing build that will stand the test of time,” Rory Shaw at VIP Steel says.
The exterior walls are a combination of architectural precast panels, Nu-Wall extruded aluminium cladding, cedar weatherboard, and ‘Supercrete 50’ (a plastered, lightweight concrete cladding system) installed by Superbuild Ltd. The autoclave aerated concrete system consists of a closed cavity behind the panels to fully utilise the material's thermal, acoustic, and breathable properties. On top of all that, it is a very cost-effective and high-quality product. The material is made from a combination of minerals to create a highly porous, lightweight, and insulating mineral product. What this meant for Andrew and Sandie’s home was a warmer, drier, quieter, stronger, and healthier home than other conventional buildings. For Aaron Grennell of Superbuild, it was a pleasure working with Andrew and his team. “Having worked for seven years in the industry, I have never come across such a straightforward build,” he said.
The specialists in roofing and waterproofing at Application Specialists were delighted to install the roofing membrane on the property. The team used Viking Enviroclad, which is a lightweight thermoplastic sheet that is hot air welded. This creates an advanced membrane system, giving peace of mind to the owners. Roofing and waterproofing are never a one size fits all task, but it is all about providing the right solution for the right job. The team at Application Specialists enjoyed the challenging geometrical shape of the flat roof area, and because they know their products inside and out, they provided all the expertise that the Burt’s needed to make the building watertight. The team also provided the sealant to the precast concrete panel joints.
CS Roofing Canterbury was also part of the build team. Andrew has worked with CS Roofing Canterbury on many projects, so the company was familiar with his efficient way of working. Lindsay McLeod, Project Manager for CS Roofing Canterbury, was delighted with the result. “We used a MagnaFlow VeeDek product, which looks great. We also provided and installed the parapet caps, downpipes and gutters,” he says. The team at CS Roofing Canterbury also ensured that all the products were installed to the highest standards, particularly on this project, given that it is in a coastal zone, with high levels of salt in the air. “Not only does a roof protect you from the outdoor elements, but it also plays a big part in the overall look and style of the home. The Windsor Grey colour achieves this very solidly,” Lindsay says.
Both inside and outside the home, Cancast’s precast architectural panels give a rough sawn planked timber look, despite being made of concrete. This creates a real feature of the home. With Andrew’s commercial construction background, he was keen to integrate concrete into the build and let it be on show. So, the two end wings facing Church Bay are clad in concrete tilt panel with a timber-shuttered finish. It again looks almost like wood, yet is concrete. Strategically orientated so the ‘grain’ is vertical, the relief in the concrete prevents the collection of dust and dirt and will require no future maintenance. Cancast has a completely indoor casting facility at their Rolleston site, which means they can manufacture to a consistently high quality in a controlled environment and store projects so that they are ready to load and go when required. The Burt’s chose Cancast because of its care and attention to detail, and of course because of the consistent quality and finish of the product.
Andrew selected Elite Interior Plastering to provide the interior plasterboard linings throughout the home. The 20-plus years of residential and commercial experience of Elite Interior Plastering’s Daniel Hanifin shows with an immaculate result without any rework or touching up being required. Daniel has completed over 12 major projects for Strongline in the last six years, so there was never any doubt the job would be done to the same exacting quality. He stands by his workmanship, stating that the finish will maintain its quality over time. As Andrew says, “I selected people that I knew would do a good job, have great industry knowledge, and be reliable and professional. My philosophy is, ‘do it once, do it right’. Strongline’s contractors are very loyal. They know we are organised, so we get excellent pricing, as they know they can work efficiently.”
The attention to detail certainly continues throughout the home, with tiling being no exception. DesignaStyle worked with Andrew and Sandie to achieve a high-class finish to the tiling, which is a feature through the main living areas and bathrooms. It was important to capture the coastal location, with that contemporary appearance and a touch of luxury in the look and feel of the tiling. The tiles were selected and imported from some of the most elite tile manufacturers in Italy. Andrew and Sandie selected a large format tile for the main living areas called Petra Grey Lappato and a white-based marble tile with a polished finish and mitred corners for the fully-tiled bathrooms. The tile installation team set out the tile layout carefully, and the very high standard of finish is noticeable throughout. DesignaStyle are proud of their continued relationship with Strongline, having completed numerous projects with them.
Millbrook Kitchens manufactured and installed the cabinetry in the sleek kitchen and sourced the metallic-flecked engineered stone benchtop material. Millbrook’s designers recommended and sourced products to give the space a sharp, simple look that would not detract from the panoramic views. Blum’s Legrabox handle-less drawer system, with ‘push to open/push to close’ operation, enhances the seamless look. In addition to the kitchen, the experienced team from Millbrook expertly constructed and installed cabinets and work surfaces in the laundry plus wardrobe storage throughout the home.
H2Flow Plumbing and Heating carried out both the plumbing and the design and installation of the central hot water heating system. The dwelling incorporates hydronic in-slab underfloor heating throughout, serviced by Mitsubishi Ecodan hot water heat pumps. Individually thermostatically-controlled room zones ensure complete comfort all year whilst being incredibly economical to run. Jonathan Toulson of H2Flow Plumbing and Heating specialises in in-slab heating systems and is one of the few companies to offer a comprehensive heat load calculation at the design stage when engaging with house build projects like this. This data gives the exact information the heat installers need to deliver an efficient heating system that will sufficiently heat the house to the customers’ requirements. The heat load calculation and use of weather compensation technology and quality compressors ensure the system runs sufficiently even at low temperatures. Jonathan thoroughly enjoyed working with Andrew and the Strongline team on this project.
The window shutters, roller-blinds, curtains, soft furnishings, and selected carpets were sourced from and installed by Nextdore. Luxaflex Shutters and motorised sunscreen roller blinds (which are unmatched in New Zealand) are certainly a sophisticated addition to the home, given the sun exposure houses on the Banks Peninsula receive. Equally, in the cooler winter months, blinds are the perfect solution for reducing heat loss. The blinds are all handcrafted in New Zealand, and Luxaflex is a market-leader in daylight regulation and solar heat control solutions. The motorised controls had to be carefully managed in conjunction with the construction and lining, but it was no problem for the Nextdore team. Nextdore also worked with the owners to provide Bremworth Collection textured wool, and Cavalier Bremworth solution dyed nylon carpets to give the home a luxurious, cosy feel. These materials were selected due to their superior quality and performance at an affordable price.
Another regular with Andrew’s projects is Scott Downes of Downes Electrical. He completed all the electrical wiring throughout the home. He used the new Hager-Silhouette range of switches and light switches, which have only been available in New Zealand for the past six months. The slim four-millimetre thick switches blend into the wall creating a simple but elegant form. The switches are all touch button (no rocker switch), so they fit perfectly into the contemporary environment of this home. The Hager range won an Australian Good Design Award in 2017, so it is fast becoming a popular choice in New Zealand. Downes Electrical has previously worked on wiring the new gorilla and orangutan exhibit at Orana Wildlife Park, making this job well within their capability.
This immaculate build shows that experience counts. Andrew’s philosophy of a collaborative approach to the design and construction has flowed through the whole process to deliver a smooth and successful build project. “The challenge with any build is to select the right people, collaborate and decide on the right sequence so that it’s efficient and everything is considered in the plan. My job is to blaze the path so that the contractors can do their jobs without too many glitches,” Andrew says with a smile.
So, were there any glitches? “A couple,” Andrew says. “The European-manufactured, prefinished internal doors, and frames were delayed in transit from Europe, and we only received these on 16 December, with a move-in date of 19 December. Only then did we discover there were no architraves or skirtings as ordered – they had never left Lithuania! So, we had to find, fit, and paint locally-sourced alternatives. Building isn’t an exact science. You have to be prepared to adapt, while at the same time respecting the structural integrity and architectural intent,” says Andrew.
It is, without doubt, a well-deserved accolade that the home will be entered into the Architectural Designers New Zealand Awards this year. If there were an award for being on time, this project (with no re-work or snagging list) would win hands down.
Words Kathy Catton Photography Mick Stephenson
Involved in this project
Strongline Projects Ltd
021 244 7024
027 253 5488
TM Consultants Ltd
03 348 6066
STEELWORK AND TIMBER
VIP Steel and VIP Frame and Trusses
03 389 8200
027 930 9640
CS Roofing Canterbury Ltd
021 221 5931
03 347 8609
GIB LINING AND STOPPING
Elite Interior Plastering Ltd
021 203 2081
TILE SUPPLY & INSTALLATION
03 348 1099
Millbrook Kitchens Ltd
027 295 0422
PLUMBING AND UNDERFLOOR HEATING
H2Flow Plumbing and Heating
03 341 2001
WINDOW BLINDS AND CARPETS
021 677 597
Downes Electrical Ltd
027 364 3583
TPO ROOFING AND GUTTER LINING
Application Specialists Ltd
022 042 8835