With a coveted beachside location, a huge section, and an ageing home that was tired and beyond renovation, Kim and Diane decided to demolish, subdivide, and rebuild. There were some big challenges to overcome, not least of which was working around their protected 120-year-old Gingko tree, but as they explain, the result was beyond expectation.
Kim and Diane have lived in their home in Takapuna for 30 years. It’s where they brought up their four children, in one of Auckland’s most coveted locations on Takapuna Beach’s ‘Golden Mile’. With the sand and surf just a few minutes’ walk from their front doorstep, the Bennetts love where they live. But their 80-year-old home was old, tired, and past the point of renovation.
The house had been built just after the war for Lady Lloyd Jones – a relative of Australian retail giant David Jones – at a time when Takapuna was predominantly farmland. “The plans were actually designed and drawn up in the UK, so when it was built here it was poorly suited to its location,” says Kim.
“Over the years we spent a lot of time trying to make it work by changing what we could. One of the big negatives about the house was how cold it was in winter – it was freezing. And with a 1250m² section, we were spending our weekends trying to stay on top of the gardens and grounds maintenance. We had so many wonderful memories in our home, but we done everything we could with it and had reached the natural limitations of what we could change.”
Kim and Dianne wanted to stay in the location they loved and had many happy memories, but they also wanted a new home that would last well into retirement, was warm and comfortable and didn’t require a high level of maintenance. So, when Auckland’s Unitary Plan came into effect in 2019, and offered them the new option of unlocking their land for subdivision, the way forward became clear.
At 1250m², the site was more than they needed. They realised that by subdividing and creating two additional sites, they could sell these additional sites and use the funds the sale generated to build a brand-new home.
After chatting with a nephew who was in the building industry, Kim was put in touch with Paul and Debbie Brett at Landmark Homes North Shore & Rodney. “To be honest, I had some preconceived ideas about design and build companies and I wasn’t sure whether they could create what we wanted,” says Kim. “But after meeting with Paul and their New Home Consultant Jarrod, we came away feeling positive and excited about taking the next step.”
It’s not often that a tree dictates how a build will proceed, but in the Bennett’s case, their 120-year-old gingko tree played a major role in the plans of their new home.
“Not only is the tree protected, it’s very special to us because it’s been a part of our family for so long,” says Kim. “Landmark ensured the tree was looked after throughout the build. It’s now beautifully showcased from the living room and the outdoor living area and will be enjoyed and treasured for its lifetime.”
The couple wanted their new home to have an open feel with high studs and a classic contemporary look and feel. Also important was having a ‘wow’ factor upon entering. “I love the floor to ceiling glazing and the ‘double void’ in the entranceway that grabs your attention as you step inside,” says Diane.
Another must-have for Kim and Diane was a swimming pool. “It was a big ask, especially when you’re trying to put three dwellings on one site, but they managed to squeeze that in and do a great job of it too!”
At the heart of the home, the kitchen is one of the couple’s favourite spaces and a prime example of the quality workmanship and materials used throughout the build. Positioned to open to the outdoor living area, the minimalistic design combines modern classic marble, black and white cabinetry, and oak flooring
Kim explains that creating their dream home meant taking the time to select quality materials that would enhance its livability and aesthetic. “Selecting the right materials was important to us and Landmark were absolutely on the same page. Their standard was as uncompromising as ours, even down to the framing – most companies use standard timber framing, but Landmark use laminated timber – little things that make a big difference to the overall quality. Those things really stood out for us.”
Demolishing a home, subdividing, and rebuilding doesn’t come without its share of challenges, and the Bennetts project was certainly no exception. So, choosing an experienced and professional build company to manage those challenges right from the outset is vital.
“From the tricky design that had to accommodate a protected tree, a swimming pool within a tight space, to the long list of exacting requirements we wanted for our home, our build was never going to be straightforward,” says Kim.
“Add in the unexpected and complicated challenges like asbestos and then discovering – after we’d done all the engineering plans – that the services detailed within Watercare’s plans were incorrect… there was potential for things to become seriously unstuck. But thanks to Landmark’s experience and innovative problem-solving expertise, that never happened.”
Working on a project such as the Bennetts’ can be very high pressure and stressful, so how did they feel the Landmark team helped ease that strain?
“Landmark did a fantastic job of taking a lot of that pressure off us,” says Kim. “Even when things got complicated, it was all managed with a calm professionalism that meant we could trust everything was under control.
“Debbie, Paul, and everyone at Landmark North Shore/Rodney have been incredible throughout the entire process. Nothing was too much trouble for them, we could call or message them anytime even in the weekends and always got a response.
“Once we were through those initial hurdles, I loved the process. It was just fantastic having weekly site meetings and seeing the progress. We’d always come out of the meetings feeling energized and excited about the next stage of the process.
“When you’re working with Landmark, you’re working with people just like you – that have good old fashioned values and make you feel comfortable from the get-go.
Kim says that the bravest decision throughout the entire process was the very first one they made – to demolish the 80-year-old home their family had grown up in. “There was a risk we could regret that decision. But when our children recently said that our new home is even more like ‘home’, well… that kind of sums it up really!” says Kim.
“It was a great outcome. We’ve got a brand-new home in the same wonderful location we’ve loved for so long. We’ve retained a very special tree that has been looking after us for the last 30 years, we’ve now got grandchildren who get to love it too. We have a beautiful home that is warm, watertight, dry, and perfect for retirement. And because we subdivided, we were also able to get some money out of the property as well.
“So, there’s nothing about it that we view negatively. We’d definitely recommend working with Landmark Homes – it’s just been a really positive experience and a positive outcome.”
Thinking about subdividing, rebuilding, or both? Take the first step toward achieving your dream, contact the team at Landmark Homes North Shore today.