Peter Barrett lives in a garage, but with all the mod cons taken for granted these days.
The project manager bought a 0.4 hectare property in Clevedon two years ago with the intention of building a new house on it and moving from Thames.
“I had a small sub-division in Thames. I did the development and got the titles through just before the economic recession set in,” he says. “The sections are still for sale. They were going to fund the house.”
But Peter decided to push ahead to Clevedon anyway and build something he could live in. Whitford architect Peter Diprose designed a house structured in two stages. Stage one involves two barns, one 120 square metres and the other 180 square metres, with 45 degree pitch roofing.
A rustic touch is achieved with stained macrocarpa weatherboards and aluminium double-glazed joinery.
One of the barns contains a single garage which houses a vehicle and a general garage area for outdoor equipment such as a ride-on lawn mower.
Peter lives in the other barn made up of one double and another single garage. A small bricked extension at one end will eventually dovetail into the house proper when stage two comes along.
Life in the fully-insulated garage has been extremely “cosy”, Peter says. He moved to the property in December 2010 and has already been through one winter with the help of an electric heater. It wasn’t economically practical to install a fireplace.
Raising the garage doors opens the rooms entirely to the forecourt between the two barns. Eventually the same impact will be created with bifold doors off all the major rooms which will front onto magnificent views over the Wairoa River and Clevedon Valley.
The small brick extension houses a combined laundry and kitchen. It’s streamlined with enough appliances for a bachelor lifestyle and given a touch of class by routing the medium-density fibreboard (MDF) cupboard and bench joinery work to create a tongue and groove effect.
“It works,” Peter says. “It’s a galley kitchen. I thought about making it into a butler kitchen, but this is going to be the laundry in the future.”
The area is future-proofed with an extra-large sink basin and strip lighting runs along the bench under the cupboards. Eventually it will be a substantial laundry with lots of cupboard space.
And storage is one thing Peter is not short of, despite living in a garage. A hallway running along the front of the brick extension from the main living room cum garage is lined with floor to ceiling cupboards.
Off the hallway is a bathroom which will eventually be the main bathroom for the house. It is equipped with a spacious shower area and a stand-alone bath, an extractor fan over the shower and a heated towel rail.
“People can build a rectangular box because it is all they can afford,” Peter says. “But they can put attic trusses in and floor joists with a cupboard that can eventually contain a stairway. If you have a 45 degree pitch on the roof, you will get two thirds of the floor area. So with 100 square metres you end up with 60 square metres upstairs.”
A pull-down attic stairway links the main garage/living room to a large area converted to a permanent office for Peter’s consultancy business. Another spare bedroom sits over the single garage at one end and a substantial “junk room” leads off the office area. With the 45 degree roof pitch Peter has achieved an extra 20 square metres upstairs.
Meanwhile, Peter has made the most of the roof space above the other utilitarian barn. A cunning way of creating storage space has been used to fill in the gap created between the roof pitch and the floor and install low cupboard doors to get access to the space.
A stunning round window at one end of the room looks out over the Clevedon Valley, yielding a view to help maximise the area’s future use.
A special feature is the skylight windows set into the roof pitch of both barns, engineered so they can fully rotate for ease of cleaning.
“Other than decorating and the carpet, turning the garages into living areas has not involved me spending a lot more on the job,” Peter says.