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Can a house be a ‘show-stopper’, while retaining a sense of understatement?

This Fendalton home is both subtle and sensational. The 290 square-metre two-storey home, clad in meticulously detailed cedar cladding, with cantilevered roofing and walls initially presents an unassuming face to daytime visitors. The garage door is cleverly integrated into the front wall, and cedar ‘fins’ only reveal their true purpose at night when they are illuminated to great effect. Further illuminated fins are placed at the rear of the house and provide a visual connection.

The new home of Ross and Lorraine Brereton replaces their original family home, a casualty of the Christchurch earthquakes of 2011. With the decision made to replace rather than repair, the Brereton’s approached their architect to design their new home. Though they met with other builders, the Brereton’s chose Richard Fantham from Radius Building as their builder.

‘We were looking for a fixed-price contract, which Radius offered’, says Ross Brereton. ‘Richard’s scope of works, the online ‘Co-construct’ programme meant everything was recorded and gave us a rundown of costs. We could make informed decisions about whether to include extras. We could also keep track of the build and see when we’d have to make decisions about lighting, flooring and decorating.’

Richard worked closely with the Breretons to bring the architect’s vision to life within their budget. The design of the Brereton’s home was technically challenging from many aspects. With its cantilevered roof and walls requiring a sophisticated steel structure, windows at soffits around the upper level that flood rooms with light while providing privacy, and the detailing of the cedar cladding it was an intricate and specialised build.

‘A degree of flexibility to adapt the design as the build progressed was required’, says Richard. ‘In addition to using Co-construct, lots of discussions were held throughout the build to ensure Ross and Lorraine understood the options and implications of their decisions. They wanted to future-proof their home so that meant considering the height of plugs and switches, bracing walls to add handrails at a later stage and accessibility issues, such as not having steps in to showers.’

Though no strangers to building, the Brereton’s were never-the-less excited seeing their new home rise up from the ground. ‘Just seeing the framing go up and thinking this is our new house was exciting’, says Lorraine. ‘While building your own home takes time, the end result makes it all worthwhile.’

There’s a lot to admire about the Brereton’s new home. An exterior stone feature wall extends inside the entrance hall, that offers visitors enticing views of the garden beyond. The wide corridor leads past a study (‘a god-send during lockdown’ says Lorraine) and guest suite on to the entertainment areas. Light floods into the north-facing living rooms with high ceilings and glass folding doors opening out to a landscaped garden of established trees and shrubs (carefully nurtured by the Brereton’s throughout the build) surrounding a swimming pool down to a steam-boundary. The finish inside is only exceeded by the quality of the exterior craftsmanship.

‘The cedar cladding is beautifully pattern matched’, says Lorraine. ‘It looks continuous but it’s not. They used a plumb line to get it vertically aligned and hand-nailed it in place. People can’t find a fault with our new home – even people with building knowledge are impressed.’

The Brereton’s home literally shines a light on what can be achieved by the combination of design inspiration and building excellence.

‘There’s a sense of satisfaction from building your own home’, says Ross Brereton. ‘You just need the right builder and the right architect and we had both!’

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