Considering renovating? Read this first

Are there particular types of homes that are more suitable for major renovation? We put this question to three leading architects/designers – here's what they said

Continuing the tradition of refurbishment of Auckland’s heritage
Continuing the tradition of refurbishment of Auckland’s heritage housing stock, this renovation by SGA is a re-interpretation of the ‘lean-to’ form. Photography by: Simon Devitt

Pat de Pont – architect – SGA

There are definitely some homes that are harder to renovate.

New Zealand’s houses, typically timber framed buildings, are generally pretty pliable – they don’t require a great deal to manipulate.

However, if it’s built of concrete, or something a bit more permanent, then the limitations become much harder – just physically shifting things becomes much harder.

The most difficult renovations I’ve come across tend to be houses from the ‘80s and ‘90s, where there were a lot of 45 degree angles and things like that – they are much more difficult to manipulate and fix.

A lot of these homes were well designed – they were well thought out and the angles and things were fine.

But to try and change them doesn’t work so well.

Those are the ones I've found the most difficult to work with and generally the least satisfying, too – when you 'solve' it, you don’t feel like you have really solved it.

Mona Kruse Hurnen – architect – Callidus Architects

A structurally sound home is always going to get you there a little bit faster than something that has some problems.

However, sometimes clear insertions are interesting – where we're actually just take the whole roof up and we redo it, or if we take the whole end wall off – rather than touching the house in ten different locations. Because it's the little touches that can get quite expensive.

So if you are in a situation where you can do a clear insertion somewhere it can be way more cost-effective than people think.

That's something to be considered if we just want to talk about the cost.

The beauty with particularly older homes, which we do a lot of, is their high stud. It's always really enjoyable working with a high ceiling space.

And, and also the framing on, say, old villas or bungalows, is typically in very good condition. More so than with that leaky homes situation.

They have a lot more strength in them than a lot of the new builds today.

Because it's expensive to build and source materials today, the structural capability of more modern houses is very finely calculated.

In contrast, a lot of older homes are over-engineered in many respects and they can take a little bit of 'interaction' with something else happening to them – which is good.

Jason Higham – architectural designer – Higham Architecture

The older homes – with timber piles and so on – are definitely easier from a services perspective.

The likes of rerouting your plumbing under the house – where you've got access to the subfloor area – is a whole lot easier than dealing with concrete slabs that you're cutting up and having to deal with in that way. 

However, I think the older the home is generally, the more poorly laid out it is with regards to sun and walls. 

Generally in those much older homes, you're having to move rooms around – so, relocating rooms.

For example, the kitchen might be moving from the south side to the north or the east to capture more sun and light. Likewise with the living rooms and so on. 

There can be a lot more work, a lot more structural work involved in those ones. 

But they're also a lot more rewarding because these are more significant changes – so I quite like those types of projects.

In terms of aesthetics, I think you can work with anything really.

There's usually two approaches to that – one is to either try to match in with exactly what's there or to do something aesthetically completely different so that it's obvious what’s old and what's new.

Designed by: Various

Story by: Trendsideas

17 Dec, 2023

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