Third time’s a charm

Third time’s a charm

When Hayden and Jenny embarked on their third house build, it was with some trepidation, but two years on they are loving the beautiful home built for them by RJ Build, and the process was smooth as silk.


Relaxing in their sun-drenched living room, Hayden and Jenny could not be happier with their new home or the process of working with RJ Build, “We think it’s too nice to be ours!” says Jenny, “and Richard from RJ Build was brilliant.” The couple has built twice before; the first Hayden’s father built for them on weekends and, heartbreakingly, it was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake and deemed beyond repair shortly after they moved in. Their next build project, with a design and build company, did not go smoothly, so the decision to build again was a leap of faith not taken lightly.

While Hayden and Jenny’s previous build was not a pleasant experience, it did help to crystallise what was important for them in their next house design. They took their ideas to Jason Higham of Higham Architecture; the brief to design a three bedroom, long-term home to settle down in and raise their children. They wanted open plan living spaces with easy access to a sheltered and sunny outdoor living area. A further consideration was Jenny’s health, an ongoing condition means she may need help with mobility in the future and the design needed to cater for that possibility.


With their previous houses over 300sqm, the challenge for the architectural designer, Jason, was to create a home with a significantly smaller footprint, that still gave the sense of space the clients had been used to. The addition of high ceilings and multi-purpose spaces helped to achieve this. The result, a gabled-roof home featuring the warmth of vertical cedar weatherboard cladding contrasted with clean, white plaster. Rib profile roofing was used to highlight the strong, simple roof forms and the addition of attic trusses over the garage provides expanses of extra hidden storage. Designed to achieve the maximum 5 Star rating for Lifemark standards, Jason has ensured the home is accessible, adaptable and safe for their entire family now and into the future.

It was on Jason's recommendation that RJ Build was asked to quote for the construction. “They had another builder lined up,” says Richard of RJ Build, “but his price was on the high side, and they liked mine better.” The RJ Build team came onboard and made an immediate start. Richard has a team of four experienced staff, and a group of trusted sub-contractors who he regularly works with and knows will produce a quality result. “I am hands on too,” he says, “I more or less did all of the cedar cladding for Jenny and Hayden simply because I love working with timber.”


As a third generation builder with 38 years under his belt, Richard’s experience and attention to detail have resulted in a home the clients love, but there was no resting on his laurels. Hayden’s father, a builder and joiner, was often onsite looking over the shoulders of build team ensuring things were on track, “He had his eyes on us, making sure it was right,” laughs Richard.

Inside, Jenny and Hayden wanted to keep things simple with a house that had just what they needed and no more. The home comprises open plan, living, dining and kitchen and three double bedrooms, including a spacious master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and luxurious ensuite. Completing the layout is the generous tiled family bathroom and separate toilet plus a dedicated laundry room – a must have for Jenny.


The living area is light and open, an ideal space for relaxed living and includes a much-loved window seat that overlooks the garden, a favourite place to perch with the added bonus of excellent hidden storage underneath. One of the issues with the smaller floorplan was a lack of storage, so any available space has been snapped up, hence the study nook in the corner of the lounge with built-in shelving and desk space.

The living room opens out to a fabulous sheltered courtyard, protected from the prevailing winds and positioned perfectly for the sun. The timber ramp installed for future-proofing has been commandeered by the two children as a race track for the tricycles.

Throughout the house are large picture windows, making the most of the view to the garden and outdoor living. Fairview windows and door were engaged to supply and install all of the window joinery and external doors for the home. Having been in business for almost 50 years, the company works on projects of all sizes from simple renovations, bespoke architectural homes to commercial designs, using an extensive network of Fairview manufacturers to supply quality products and help bring client's homes to life.


The galley-style kitchen includes a large island, hidden pantry, and a window instead of a splashback; Hayden’s idea to bring natural light into the kitchen, and when the garden grows up a bit there’ll also be a leafy outlook. The cabinetry has ‘push to open’ automatic doors for ease of use.

Imperceptible but potentially invaluable, are the small adjustments for accessibility that Jason Higham incorporated throughout the home. Things like the level access at each of the doors, the location of the power points or the distance to the kitchen island are all potential problem areas that the Lifemark specification caters for, and which mean for Hayden and Jenny, they can stay in this home for as long as they wish.


Having put their faith in Higham Architecture and RJ Build to deliver on their dreams for a simple yet highly-functional home, the couple has not been disappointed. A combination of thoughtful design and a builder with years of experience and a love for the craft has delivered on what Hayden describes as, “building what we needed, not what we thought we wanted.” And Jenny says, “The whole thing was so well planned, the builders did a great job, we have no regrets, and no I wishes.”


Words Anna Scaife Photography Mick Stephenson

Involved in this project

R.J. Murray Builders ltd
0274 325 877

Higham Architecture
03 365 6368

Windows and Exterior Doors
Fairview Windows & Doors
03 323 8887

Colourful cool

Colourful cool

Truly seamless

Truly seamless