“Robust and Functional” were the two words Tracey and William used for their house when considering their brief to Tim Dorrington at the start of their project. Let’s see if this is what they achieved.
How long have you been living in your Box™? Is there anything you wish you had done differently, now that you’ve had time to digest the living spaces?
We’ve been in the house since May 2013. The living spaces work well, especially separating off the TV/media room from the main living area and a mezzanine type play area for the kids (where there is usually Lego scattered on the floor). We’re glad that we insisted on having the kitchen/dining/living space on the ground level so that it could connect seamlessly with the outside.
Was Box™ an obvious choice for you?
We had already approached an architect and two design and build companies but the plans that were drawn up did not wow us or seem practical. We knew Nat J from Piha and that he was involved in a company called Box™ so we rang him to come and have a look at the site to see if they could put something new and unique on our section. He brought Dan along and we went from there. Tim drew up a concept plan that seemed to understand our needs as a young, busy family of five.
Find out if a modular design or a custom design process is right for your project.
Being a particularly tricky, steep section what was the hardest design feature to manage?
The land was narrow, steep, inaccessible from the road and covered in nasturtiams, privet, ginger and old felled pine trees. It was certainly a challenge to design a family home on this land with vehicle access and parking being the biggest challenge. For a few months Dan and Tim explored many different methods of overcoming this – steep, curved driveways, vehicle lifts, stacked parking…. even a gondola! In the end the conclusion was a car pad separate from the house with a carousel on it. Resource consent required us to be able to park two cars off the street and have the provision for turning the vehicle around so as to avoid backing out of the driveway.
What was the most important feature(s) for you to get right in the whole design & build process?
Building a house within all height to boundary and coverage restrictions and with adequate access. We respected the council rules imposed on the land and didn’t want to slow down the process by involving consents from neighbours. Ground level, open plan living with dedicated spaces was also important. We wanted a certain amount of architectural guidance but also wanted to feel like we could personalise the house in any way that we liked.
How does William’s ‘technical room’ work?
To be honest, we are just completing the shelving for this now as we wanted to make sure we got this right. This room is essentially a TV/movie/library/music room away from the central living area. Under William’s instruction, we have fibre optic cable down the driveway to the house as well as CAT 5 cables throughout the house. The back wall of the media room has about 10 various sockets with dozens of cords and a projector screen built into the ceiling. Oh, and there is an old-fashioned space invaders machine in there too. Sometimes in the evenings we all retreat in there for a movie.
Because the TV is away from the living area, it is an active choice to go and watch TV rather than having it on in as a distraction in the background.
Would you do it all again?
We would definitely build again but not on such a tricky site. The benefits of designing and building a new house specific for our family are wonderful. It is warm, has beautiful light, privacy and practical bathrooms and kitchen.
Two words that describe your building experience?
Challenging and exciting!
Any highlights during the building process that you look back on?
At the end of the build, I remember a day when Bruce was asking me where exactly I wanted the toilet roll holders and hand towel rails to go. After hundreds of large decisions over the building process, I was stumped and couldn’t decide. How could we have got through building an entire house and then not be able to decide something as insignificant as this? The toilet roll holders sit vertical now by the way ☺
If you were to give a few top handy tips to someone at the start of their new building project, what would they be?
Start some Pinterest pages for all of the ideas and features that you’d like in your house. It has cutting edge inspiration from around the world that isn’t about cost, but clever design.
Know what level of spec you would like your house to be at the start so that you can limit how many variations you have. Do your research on products and costs.
Seriously consider how you intend on heating the house as it will make your house so much more comfortable. We run a heat pump through the concrete slab in winter and it heats the pool in summer.
Choose a company that you have a good rapport with – you’ll hit some obstacles along the way and need to be open and be able to trust each other.