As is Where is

The sale of 'as is where is' homes in Christchurch has become a common sight. Some are tidied up and turned into rentals; others are sought after for their land and a lucky number are being transformed and given a new lease on life. In this week's defign blog we share the story of an earthquake casualty that caught the eye and the passion of a local architectural designer.

 

Standing high on the slopes of Mount Pleasant, one of the steepest streets in Christchurch, the 90's home was severely damaged by the Canterbury earthquakes. However a strong emotional tie has resulted in its second chance. 

ADNZ member Aaron Jones of Urban Function couldn't walk away from the house which was built by his father 22 years ago - one of his father's last builds before he retired. 

"I felt a responsibility to make it my home, to ensure a piece of my father's built history was given another life, says Aaron. 

"The shaking intensity of the earthquakes did a lot of damage. However once we assessed it with our structural engineer we found solutions to bring the home back to above code. From a design point of view we knew we needed to do more than that. There were issues with the layout - it also looked quite monolithic and boxy in its aesthetic."

The house needed to be liveable and safe; in addition it had to meet the required standards of the insurer, of a structural engineer and the council. 

"Above and beyond what was required to achieve consent, we insulated over code and wired the entire house with data to be able to handle technology upgrades. We also installed thermally broken windows and LED lighting throughout to reduce energy consumption. The home now requires little heating, has brains as well as smarts and is a supremely quiet and a calm place to live," says Aaron.

Now almost unrecognisable from its original design, the home is a pin up for how 'as is where is' buildings can be treated.

"It's structurally superior, plumb, level and square. Aesthetically it’s been brought into a more modern period; texture has been added to the exterior through the use of weatherboards. The 90's style bay windows have been squared up and the upstairs floor plan has been refined and re-planned to reflect modern living requirements. A major change was the reversal of the way the views were framed in the home, now the views are visible from every angle in every room. It's a very liveable, warm and functional home. We love it," says Aaron.

Though the end result has been worth it, lessons were learned. Aaron has advice for anyone considering taking on a ‘as is where is’ project.

“Employ good consultancy. It’s important to ensure you get sound advice as this will be fundamental to your due diligence prior to purchase and beyond, says Aaron.

“Engage a good architect or designer with excellent structural knowledge and extensive experience with renovations or this type of work. A very good structural engineer is crucial. Spend the money on quality consultancy and they will find ways to save you money on site. It balances out in the end. A good geotech is also crucial to resolving any tricky hill slope or soil issues. Finally - expect hidden issues and allow contingency in your budget!”

Though ‘as is where is’ projects can seem enticing –care needs to be taken with every project. Always do due diligence and get qualified advice you can trust.