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Home of the Week - Waikanae

While the bold symmetrical form, schist stone pillars and cedar trim demand a second look, what's going on behind the scenes also helps to make the house stand out.

undefinedOwners Yvonne and Richard Mansell took the long view when they approached architectural designer Peter Davis of AD Architecture to come up with a plan.

"With the children away from home, we wanted a house that would work well for just the two of us," says Richard. "We wanted to be able to close off part of it, but we also wanted a big, open-plan, indoor-outdoor living area that would cater to all the family and large gatherings."

The couple also wanted the house to be accessible for their elderly parents – hence the level access and installation of a lift.

And because they envisaged living in the house themselves for another 20 to 30 years, they were prepared to take a serious approach to sustainability.

"I'm an accountant, so I like to save money," says Richard. "We were very keen to use solar energy, both passively and also with a solar water heating system and photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. While we paid more at the beginning to include all these things, there will be substantial ongoing energy savings, so we will get a return in the long term."

undefinedAs a HomeStar assessor for the NZ Green Building Council Peter Davis was in a good position to advise on the sustainable features. "There are many other ways we have made it very energy efficient," he says.

The way the house is oriented to the north-facing rear of the site ensures the interior benefits from passive solar gain in the winter. There is also in-slab heating, powered by the photovoltaics. Surplus energy is fed to the swimming pool heat pump. And surplus hot water also goes to the pool.

"Everything is looped and controlled in the most efficient way, so the family have energy bills that are close to zero in summer."

The house also has extra-deep exterior walls to accommodate thicker-than-standard insulation. And the wide framing of the double-glazed joinery creates a bigger thermal break than most thermally broken windows.

Davis says the internal layout of the house determined its final look.

undefined"All the entertaining spaces are at the rear, where they flow out to the garden and pool. With the house oriented this way, there is also privacy from the road. And even though the house is two storeys, most of the height happens at the rear, so the house does not look too imposing from the street."

The exterior features low-maintenance Linea weatherboards, cedar trim and manufactured schist stone pillars, which create a strong visual link to the natural landscape.

Special features of the interior include a dramatic double-height entry hall, large, galley-style kitchen with an extra-long island and scullery, and free-flowing living areas. "

We wanted to be able to close off or open up the various spaces as required," says Yvonne. "So there are large cavity sliders that give us this flexibility."

Tim Sunderland of David Reid Homes Wellington was in charge of the build, which was completely customised, as is 99 per cent of the company's work.

"Any good home starts with good design, and that's what makes this home stand out," he says. "The sustainable design features are well above standard. In time the family will be able to attach new long-lasting batteries to the 8kW photovoltaic system, so none of the electricity is wasted."

The construction team also went that little bit further to ensure a high-quality finish. "The owners wanted polished concrete flooring with no cracks, so we opted for a post-tensioned concrete slab to give us the best possible finish."

The Mansells say they enjoyed the build process, and appreciated the good communication lines between the construction team, tradespeople and themselves.

"At times there were delays when we had to wait for things like the concrete to be cured, but the final result was well worth any small convenience. There are so many things we just love about the house, and we have no regrets about any part of it."


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