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Five minutes with a country homeowner

Laura Daly (Director of Harrison Lane) caught up with homeowner Helen on a stunning Friday afternoon for a wine; something they have enjoyed doing once or twice before during the time they have worked together.

Helen & Rob are owners of this recently completed country home. An elegant residence set on their property in rural South Auckland.

Harrison Lane managed the project right from the planning stages, handling the consent application and construction of a minor dwelling, right through to the build of the main country home and the final finishing touches to the land.

Helen shares some insights of their build, and some tips for anyone looking at undertaking a similar project.

Helen what first prompted you to contact Harrison Lane?

We have very good friends next door who built with Harrison Lane a few years ago.  We’ve always really liked their property, and they suggested we get in touch. 

When we made the decision to build we wanted a Barn House or Farm House style, which is very much the Harrison Lane look.

Have you undertaken any major construction projects previously?

Yes we previously lived in a Bungalow and a Villa in Central Auckland, both of which we renovated.  We used Architects, and from there we had to find and organise the Builders and Sub-contractors ourselves to complete the work.

Harrison Lane offer design, construction, and earthworks under our total project management service, how do you think this approach impacted the outcome of your project?

From day one, we have found it just so easy to work with you. Of course we have been in the process with you making decisions along the way but we have found it enjoyable.

Compared to our previous experiences I found this the least stressful of all our projects. I would highly recommend doing it this way.

Having access to your project management software online was a new experience for us, but it was a game changer. We could see a clear picture of the project financials and balances at any time. We could communicate ideas to you and Scott easily by uploading photos or brochures to the website. 

Seeing a summary of what was going to be happening on site over the next week or month was really beneficial – we constantly knew where the project was at.  

You and Rob have focused on materials and technology in the house with Sustainability in mind right from the start, what was the motivation behind this?

Seeing our children grow up, particularly over the last few years has given us a sense of responsibility to do our part for future generations.

We are also interested in being self-sufficient, which was a motivation to install solar and additional water tanks.  Our effluent system is a worm farm and irrigates our orchard.

I have been having a go at being Mrs Green Fingers! and am enjoying the vege gardens.

Helen & Rob’s home is fitted with a substantial Solar and Energy Storage system that is backed up by a generator, allowing the house to operate totally off grid if required. They often experience power outages in the area which at times have been up to 5 days long.

What’s your favourite room and why?

It’s really hard to pick a favourite! There are so many special places in the house.  Rob told me to say the Laundry! Ha!

I would have to say the Kitchen. The Kitchen overlooks a stunning view, all of the doors open, and it feels like we are outside. We can see so many different aspects of the farm from here.

Living area

Now you are living here what are you enjoying most about the house?

Over Christmas we enjoyed having extended family to stay. Everyone had their own space and could do their own thing. Nieces and Nephews spent time in the downstairs entertaining area without disturbing anyone, then we would all get together for evening meals.

Are there any changes you would make to the build if you did it again?

We have found that because the house is so well insulated downstairs can get a bit hot in Summer. We regret not putting air-conditioning in the lower level, so we are looking at doing this now.

What’s your top tip for anyone considering undertaking a farm building project like you have done?

This might sound cliché, but I would recommend leaving it all up to Harrison Lane! 

I think because you managed all aspects everything ran smoothly. Your team are reliable and work to your schedule. All of the guys were an absolute pleasure to have around, and all have a great sense of humour, it’s been fun!

Based on previous experience trying to manage multiple sub-contractors can become a headache if their schedules are not in sync with your timeline.

We’d like to thank Helen and Rob, we’ve had a lot of fun together building their beautiful home and have really enjoyed working for them.  This lovely country home is one of our three entries into the Master Builders House of The Year 2020.