This Shotover Country home is an inspiring example of how a Group-Home-built house can be customised into something unique. Located in Shotover Country, Queenstown, the Kawau’s home is full of personal touches and style. Equally impressive is the hard work they both put in to have landscaping, decks and fences all finished within a month of moving in, just in time for the arrival of their newborn baby...
Anneke (30 ) and Jason (34) Kawau, Rio (2 1/2) and Opi (9 weeks). Anneke and Jason previously lived in Japan for many years where Jason played professional rugby and Anneke started the popular fitness and health blog A Teaspoon of Honey. Back in NZ, Anneke is still motivating and inspiring people online and Jason is doing a building apprenticeship.
We wanted a house that was simple yet tasteful, warm and with good sunshine hours. We wanted to add our personality through our belongings, our furniture from Japan etc, rather than with building features, and we wanted a spacious area where we could entertain. We made it our goal to enjoy the building process.
193 sqm home (including double garage) in Shotover County, 15 minutes from Queenstown. The home has four bedrooms, an open plan kitchen, dining, living area, and two bathrooms (one an ensuite).
A house and land package came up in Shotover Country and we went to have a look at it. Originally I didn’t want to look at subdivisions, but we were really over camping out. The showhome looked nice, and the figures were affordable. With a young family it was important to us not to overstretch financially. The flat section is just under 600 sqm and in a cul de sac, which makes it private and safe for children. It’s close to a bank, so we can look up and see greenery on one side and mountains out the other. We have 360 degree views.
I had the perception franchise houses looked all the same, and was surprised we could take or leave their ideas. We sat with the GJ designers for three hours and nutted everything out. It was so simple, such a cool process and we really enjoyed it. The house in the end was our design, we wanted it to have a warm, positive vibe. You could say Pinterest designed the house for us! The company can credit out particular changes you make. We sourced our own flooring, and concrete pad, taps for the kitchen, found our own curtains and saved money by negotiating our own contractors.
Lots of inspiration from Pinterest. We gathered designs of kitchen and dining rooms. I got the idea for the white tiles and dark grout in the kitchen from the cafe Chop Shop in Arrowtown. They also had a blackboard wall which we incorporated into the scullery.
GJ Gardner built the house, and we were on site a lot for our own sake. We organised the concrete slab. Jase and I did all the flooring and the deck ourselves. I was 8 months pregnant, bent over nailing! - I loved it. We enjoyed doing it together, with Rio pottering around helping. We liked getting our hands dirty doing things towards our home as a family.
- Blackboard wall
- Big scullery walk-in pantry
- Haro wooden flooring
- North facing, good sunshine hours
Jason is doing a building apprenticeship, so he could keep a knowledgeable eye on things. GJ did a great job but we wanted to keep on top of things. We made a real effort to know everyone on site, chatted, and formed a relationship with them. We looked after them for example with cold drinks, baking, a barbeque. We will be building again, and we’re always going to be dealing with these people in the future. They’re all awesome people.
The wrong colour fascia boards were put up. How we dealt with it was by immediately, communicating with GJ. They suggested different options - we could keep the boards and take a credit from them, or they would take them down and replace them. We decided to keep the fascia boards as they were and took the credit, which meant we ended up with a door for free. It was good to compromise and work something out. In the bathroom, the vanity was too close to door. Once again it was very straightforward to work out a solution. They took it off the wall and moved it down. We found it best to deal with people in a positive way to sort things out.
We love the open design and the light feel to the house: the white linen curtains, our table designed from recycled rimu, wooden boxes from recycling shop, a mix of older and contemporary items. I love the blackboard wall, it always has nice quotes on it. There’s a good family home feel to our house.
- If building through a franchise company, keep in touch. It’s good for them to see you have your finger on the pulse and you’ll be there with a phone call or email straightaway.
- Voice your opinion straight away if something is going off track. Communicate in a way that makes people feel good. Good communication keeps things positive.
- Make an effort to really enjoy the process.
Design & Build Company: GJ Gardner Homes
Concrete Driveway & Patio: James Ashby Concrete
Ribraft Foundation: Foundation Builders
Plumber: Adams Plumbing
Electrician: Adams Electricity
Kitchen: Cut-It Kitchens and Joinery
Heating: Alpine Heating
Wooden Flooring: Haro
Building Product Supplier: Placemakers Queenstown
Roofing: Extreme Roofing
Curtains & Blinds: Queenstown Interiors
Photos Marina Matthews