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Cultural exchange

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When Italian inspiration joins forces with an innovative New Zealand product the result is the best of both worlds

Cultural exchange


For anyone living in a new country far away from family and friends there will often be a sense of homesickness. For the owners of the home featured on these pages, the solution was to bring a touch of their former residence with them to their new homeland.

Reminiscent of the Tuscan style, the home was specifically designed to take full advantage of the north-facing aspect of the site, to provide all-day sun to the courtyards.

While the home may look like a traditional Italian villa, its construction is anything but traditional, says builder John Macdonald.

"This home was constructed using the Firth Hotbloc Masonry system. Firth Hotbloc Masonry Villas offer durability, energy-cost savings and easy maintenance.

"However, most importantly, because the insulating properties of concrete allow it to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day, they are healthier homes to live in," says Macdonald.


The World Health Organisation has recognised poor insulation in homes as a contributing factor in a number of respiratory illnesses.

With more than 20 years' experience, John S Macdonald Builders has secured a solid reputation based on knowledge and customer service.

"We carry out a free site visit and consultation with our clients to discuss their budget and personal requirements, and we provide ideas for unique features for their home.

"We also offer a guaranteed fixed-price contract and completion date," says Macdonald.

"Throughout the building process we strive for the highest standards of workmanship. Daily supervision of all jobs enables us to provide quality control and respond to customer feedback."

This attention to detail has helped John S Macdonald Builders win several awards, including regional winner in this year's House of the Year awards – making them a national finalist.

"As well as picking up the Gold Reserve, we also were awarded the Gib Living Solutions Award and the Future-Proof Building Award," says Macdonald.

Along with its previously mentioned benefits, masonry is also a highly versatile building material allowing for any design type from traditional to contemporary and everything in between.

"Masonry products – building blocks, paving slabs and cobblestones, as well as retaining walls – are manufactured by compressing a concrete mix into a specific mould under pressure," says Macdonald.

"Then it is simply a matter of using these products, like any other building product, to construct the desired home."

"Masonry also gives you the flexibility to incorporate other materials, such as timber flooring, to achieve the personalised look you want."

For details, contact John S Macdonald Builders Ltd, PO Box 12212, Chartwell, Hamilton, phone (07) 855 8855, mobile 027 486 3653, fax (07) 855 8885. Email: .

First published date: 11 October 2006