The Howick property was constructed by Rob Dines, director of Eden Homes, for Brian and Daphne Day.
It has just scooped the Auckland region Registered Master Builders House of the Year competition, walking away as category and gold medal winner in the $600,000-$1million field.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the prestigious awards, in which local and residential entries are judged by nationally-appointed and administered judging panels.
Regional companies vie for gold, silver and bronze awards, the lifestyle awards category and the local supreme awards.
The Day’s brief to Rob was to create an Italianate or Tuscan home with a genuine and authentic feel.
The two parties met in 2006 and the process of building the house took about nine months. They have been enjoying their home for three years.
From Tranquillity Rise in Howick the Days have a vista over Mellons Bay which was an important feature of the design. Mark Taylor of Masonry Design Solutions designed the four-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-storey, masonry-constructed property to last.
“Their brief to me was to have an authentic Italianate style and solid concrete construction which provides durability, timelessness and is rot-proof.”
The last point is important, in this era of leaky homes and the multi-billion dollar bill it will put on local bodies and central government. Eaves surrounding the building’s roof ensure rain runs off instead of getting inside.
“We’ve been building masonry homes for more than 20 years and we understand the benefits. With this type of construction there aren’t a lot of problems with them,” Rob says.
With solid concrete construction, the principal of thermal mass is at play and once the concrete is warmed, either by the sun or solar power, it retains the heat and produces a lovely ambience.
The home features under-floor heating and Brian says they “run it for a few hours in the day and then it shuts off. It holds the heat for the rest of the night.”
Adding to the feeling of privacy and security is the fact that almost all outside noise cannot be heard. Because the glass is laminated they don’t even know when it is raining unless they look out the window.
The home theatre room, like the rest of the house, has speakers built into the ceiling so its occupants are followed everywhere they go by sound. Taking the quest for convenience to a whole new level is the fact so many things are controlled from a wall panel near the kitchen.
All with the touch of a button, Brian or Daphne can alter the audio, lighting, security cameras, blinds, heating and irrigation. Security cameras provide safety and privacy, both important factors to the homeowners.
“From the concept, it was always going to be private,” says Rob. “They have got privacy from the street – or as much as they want anyway.”
The kitchen features “truckloads of bench space” and seating for six or more people. “Kitchens are more than just a place to sit and eat food now, they are more the focal point of the house,” Rob says.
Along with the use of modern appliances, the heavy but not excessive use of oak adds a traditional touch. The floors are a soft pastel-coloured Italian porcelain tile, which continues into the laundry.
An impressive walk-in wardrobe completes the room. All of the dark brown wood in the home is sustainable American oak — the only material that had to be imported.
A Juliet balcony allows the Days to enjoy the fresh morning air and like many other viewpoints in the house looks out onto the landscaped courtyard. Eden Homes also took care of all the property’s structural landscaping, including boundary walls, gates, fences and patios.
“In total it was a 12-month exercise,” says Rob, who is quick to express how easy it was to work with the Days in the creation of the Tuscan masterpiece.
A lot of communication and exchanging of ideas went into the project and Rob describes the Days as dream clients. He points to a number of important themes in the construction of the home.
“Privacy is an important one, and security. The house is very easy to live in, low maintenance, very warm, lots of light, and dry and healthy. It is simple, modern living. We knew it was a great home but to win against the competition in the Master Builders was fantastic.”