Old town, new vision

Steve Booth originally planned a classic, colonial-style for his new build in the heart of historic Russell. But he feared wooden railings would obstruct panoramas of the bay, so he ultimately chose glass balustrades and a modern design for the holiday house. “My vision was tackling the hill. I bought the land quite a few years ago and wanted to make sure the views were unimpeded.”

Steve had obtained consent for the house nearly three years before breaking ground on the project. Three builders passed on the opportunity to do the work due to the site’s steep driveway and need for extensive earthworks. In the end, builder Matt Hatchard took up the challenge, constructing a ‘monster retaining-wall’ around the perimeter and multi-level blockwork walls up to 5.5m tall. “We did all of the earthworks in winter,” says Matt. “It was a mud hill. We could not park next to the build and bought two electric wheelbarrows just to ferry tools.” A 13-tonne digger worked on site for nearly two months, carving a path and excavating foundations for the retaining walls.

Arcline Architecture designed the sleek home wrapped in black, Linea® weatherboard. Floor-to-ceiling windows, lining the upstairs deck, afford priceless views over the crystal blue waters of Kororareka and Waihihi bays. It is a sublime spot to sit back and watch the ferry to Paihia, or spot dolphins playing in the waves.

The home offers supreme flexibility, with the option to lock off the garage and mezzanine and rent out the rest of the property, or hire out bedroom number three as a self-contained unit.

Matt and Steve added new elements throughout the build. A mezzanine and fourth bedroom were inserted above the high-stud garage, and generous kwila decking was included. Four skylights – placed in the kitchen, atrium, and each bathroom – allow the Bay of Island’s beautiful natural light to flood the home.

“We changed the layout to improve access to the home,” says Matt. “It was an ongoing collaboration to achieve what the owner wanted and make the site more usable.”

Steve rates Matt’s communication skills and attitude very highly. “I received lots of photos and constant updates. Matt was open and solution-driven and was able to work through any problem. It has definitely met my expectations. Best of all,” says Steve with a smile, “I can see my boat moored in the bay from here.”

Location: Russell | Northland

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