This Queenstown home is a prime example of building small, building smart. The owners knew they wanted an extremely efficient and eco friendly home and kept true to their vision by sacrificing size. As well as eco features, the interior design and clever use of space makes for a very special house. Cosy, yet spacious, and the perfect home for a young family.
Laura (32) Robbie (32), Boston (4) Monty (1) and Kota the Labrador. Laura Shallcrass is an artist and graphic designer (who also created the branding and logo for Build me.) Robbie Dick runs his own architectural design practice The Habitat Design Co.
To build a warm, affordable, energy-wise home with sustainable features, and a mezzanine floor artist’s studio.
A 100square metre barn style home with mezzanine floor. The home has 2 main bedrooms, 1 open living room and kitchen, 1 bathroom and a studio/3rd bedroom. Garage – someday!
We bought a large north facing section in Lake Hayes Estate, Queenstown. Sixty percent of the section is steep bank. We chose the site because we could afford it! And also it feels rural even within the subdivision and has lovely sun and views up the Crown Range.
We used Deni at Harcourts to buy the section off the original developer of the subdivision. We originally put in an offer on the section next door. Someone else put in a higher offer though, so we bought this one almost by default. We're so glad it worked out this way, as the bigger section suits us better. And our neighbours who bought the one we originally wanted are really lovely!
Sustainable considerations were super important to us. We wanted as many eco features as we could afford really. We sacrificed floor area and a garage in order to afford the ones we have. My husband Robbie drew up the design. He’s a building scientist and draughtsman, so the process was pretty easy really.
I did a lot of Pinterest-ing! We knew we could only afford a small house if we wanted to put in any of the eco features we had our hearts set on, so that's what we set out to design. One design that really inspired us was the Hudson Passive House Project. We wanted to create something similar, but on a smaller scale.
Our build went from March to August 2013. We chose Form Construction. We knew Hamish and some of his builders and knew they had a really great reputation for building beautiful hi-spec homes. The process was pretty smooth all thanks to our amazing builders and Robbie’s attention to detail.
- Airtight wrap (Intello by Pro Clima)
- Extra insulation (R3.8 walls, R5.2 ceiling)
- Maxraft slab
- Passive solar design
- Hi-spec windows (Thermally Broken + Low-E glazing)
- High raking ceiling in the living area
- Mezzanine floor used as artist studio
- Polished concrete floors
Because we designed our house we knew the design inside out. We’d gone over it so much it was all pretty sorted before the actual build started. We added a window, which we now really appreciate, as it opened up extra views and morning sunshine.
We had a few small hiccups but nothing too major. Anything that came up, Robbie and our builder sorted out easily. Once we had moved in and summer came along, we discovered that the property was covered in the noxious weed Hemlock, which would be poisonous to the children. Luckily a local landscaper sorted the problem out for us within a few days.
Everything! I love how warm and lovely the house is to be in during winter, the way the space feels, and I love my studio! The airtightness of our home means the temperature rarely drops below 18degrees, so we love the low power bills too.
- The designing and building process isn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. It's totally manageable for anyone. We would definitely do it again.
- Don't feel like group housing companies are your only option. With good contractors you can get exactly what you want and incorporate your own personality.
Designer / Architect: The Habitat Design Co
Builder: Form Construction
Electrician: RLS Electrical
Plumber: A friend
Kitchen: Kitchens for Less
Carpet: Flooring Xtra
Airtight Wrap & Roofing Underlay: Pro Clima
Window & Door Joinery: Aitken Joinery
Interior Designer: Me (Laura)
Curtains & Blinds: My lovely Mother in Law
Real Estate: Deni Bevin, Harcourts Queenstown
Photos by Marina Matthews