An expansive roof area has provided one Otahuhu family with the opportunity to extend their much-loved family home upwards with a second storey.
WORDS Joanna Mathers PHOTOGRAPHY Caroline Ducobu and Scott Espie
An expansive roof area has provided one family with the opportunity to extend their much-loved family home upwards with a second storey.
Sometimes it’s hard to have a sense of community when you live in the city. In our fast-paced modern society it can be difficult to meet neighbours, let alone forge friendships with them. But Linda and Jeremy Nicholls are lucky enough to live on a street that’s an exception to this rule – and these close ties are part of the reason they’ve decided to renovate rather than move on.
Linda and Jeremy bought their house eight years ago. The single storey, three-bedroom home with one bathroom on a large section was ideal for a young family. But as they added to their family – they now have three children: Felix, Orlaith and Meg (all under 10) – they began to realise that one shared toilet was far from ideal, and that more space was needed. They soon realised that it would be hard to improve on what they already had. “We discovered that to find a property with the garden, fruit trees and great neighbours we have would be almost impossible,” explains Linda.
Family-friendly home renovation ideas
From the beginning, Linda and Jeremy felt that the home would be suitable for extension upwards. The roof was pitched, and was ideally suited to a second story. “It’s something that we had always considered,” says Linda. “The house already had the roof space, so a second storey seemed a good idea.” They toyed with this idea for a few years, but it was only two or three years ago that the couple decided that the upstairs extension would be the next thing on their ‘to-do’ list.
Jeremy’s sister Claire Nicholls is an architect so it made sense that she would draw up the plans for them. For the second floor, she included a double bedroom (where the girls will sleep) with the much-needed extra toilet beside it. There is also storage space, and the area is accessed via a stairway at the right of the first floor entrance hall. The new area also incorporates a landing. “Space is a luxury and as we are losing space in the foyer area it’s great to have this extra space upstairs,” says Linda.
Choosing a Refresh Renovations franchise
One of Claire’s building contractors suggested Refresh Renovations for the project management of the renovation. “It was really important to us that we find the right people for the job,” Linda explains. “We wanted people who would say ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’, who would make sure the gates were shut so the kids wouldn’t escape.”
The family decided that they wanted to live in the house while the renovations took place. Linda says: “This was part of our criteria for extending the house. We were spending so much money on the renovation that we couldn’t conceive of renting at the same time.” For Refresh Renovations, this has meant some careful planning. “We needed to make sure that the water and power stay on,” he says. “If they were going to be turned off, we had to make sure they’re back on by the end of the day.”
Accessing the space has been another challenge for the building team. To gain access, Refresh Renovations had to build a scaffold at the rear of the house. They then pulled off the back half of the roof (this was off for around five weeks) and worked from here. “We had to install steel and timber beams to support the new first floor,” says Refresh. “Because of the restricted head heights the architects had to design the beams to sit as low as possible, which presented a challenge as we had to work around the existing ground floor ceiling joists.
“This meant some careful propping of the existing ceilings so we could cut out the ceiling joists to install the new beams. We then had to re-attach the ceiling joists to the beams to re-support them.”
Carrying out the house renovation
The contractors found that the timber used for the internal walls was narrower than they thought (75 rather than 100 millimetres), and this meant the engineers had to recalculate the types of timber beams that would have to be used to support the extension. “Basically with a 100 millimetre timber wall we can use two standard sized timber beams, which when nailed together form a 100 millimetre wide beam,” explains Refresh. “In this instance we had to revert to using a plywood beam that is 63 millimetre wide and pack the remaining amount so that the beams finished flush with the rest of the stud work. The strength of these beams is quite different hence the required recalculation.”
When it came to choosing windows for the new addition, Linda was keen to incorporate one of the arched windows (with a round rather than a pointed top) she had seen and loved while living in Ireland for a few years.
Linda and Jeremy are still waiting for the windows, but now at least have a new roof. They chose Colorsteel ‘New Denim Blue’, a muted grey-blue that echoes the painting around the windows of the house. The extensions are still very much a work in progress, but it won’t be long before the Nicholls will be enjoying the luxury of more space – and an extra toilet – in the neighbourhood they love.
Following a roof extension that created much needed additional living space, this 1930s home was lovingly restored in the charming style of its era.
One of the key drivers for renovations at Linda and Jeremy Nichols’ home was the need for ‘country girl’ Linda to “see some fields.” She says she loves walking up nearby Mount Richmond. “I need to feel the air and the openness. I wanted our girls to see grass from their bedroom.” This largely forgotten pocket of residential gems meets all the Nichols’ country values: a desire for a gentler pace of life, generous sections, and caring communities – all balanced by the convenience of the nearby Southern Motorway and Sylvia Park shops.
From the outside the house has elements of a gothic farmhouse, and the Nichols guess that it may have built in the late 1930s. “When we started demolition we found a piece of wood in the walls that has ‘J.W. Nichols 1936’ written on it,” says Jeremy. “That’s especially poignant as my name is J. Nichols, same spelling!”
Building a new bedroom and bathroom
Building a new bedroom and bathroom into the cavity of their high-pitched roof meant some big changes to the centre of the house. The original gloomy entrance foyer with myriad doors leading off into all the rooms is now a light, breezy hallway off the front entrance. The door and porch were pushed out to create space for the new staircase, while also creating privacy for the master bedroom. A large Velux skylight illuminates the passage.
The original archway has been reused and repositioned above the new entry porch to create a welcoming street frontage. The couple was keen to retain the character of the house and Jeremy has spent considerable time restoring and sourcing many of the period details himself. Eleven recycled Rimu internal doors were acquired at Jacobs Demo in Drury. “We saved as much scotia and skirting as possible but also made some new pieces, which the builders have done a superb job of matching.”
Jeremy admits that he turned into a bit of ‘skip rat’ raiding the demo bin after the builders had left. “Five cubic metres of salvaged Matai will soon be used for shelving,” says Linda. “He’s a bit of Kiwi DIYer, turning his hand to anything.” In an effort to match new windows with existing leadlights, Jeremy took a leadlight course, bought the tools and has replicated the look throughout. He was so successful in fact that now he is taking commissions from friends to do feature windows for them.
Linda says she found choosing the décor initially frustrating. “Carpet, paint and wallpaper each has an effect on the overall feel. The ladies at Guthrie Bowron were fantastic with their suggestions but it took me a long time to choose a palette. In the end I settled on colours that reflect the different shades of flax.”
There is a mixture of Dulux Wash and Wear paint and various wallpapers downstairs. A bold, gold embossed fleur-de-lys Regent paper in the dining room immediately harks back to a former time. “When I tell people I have gold-flecked floral curtains with a massive gold patterned wallpaper and gold in the mirrors, they must think I’m crazy,” laughs Linda.
The gold theme extends through the hall areas with a textured paper called Chateau. A greener shade of the same paper ties two of the bedrooms together with a restful Tarris green in the master bedroom and a slightly lighter Matamata in the smaller room. The choice of stronger colours are, says Linda, a reaction to the previous owners ‘insipid apricot wash’.
The newly updated home
The open plan lounge off of the dining room was the least ‘touched’ room during the renovations with only an entrance door being taken out. Here the couple chose a deep burgundy called Ettrick to offset Jeremy’s handmade Rimu bookcases. The ceiling was re-battened to match the dining room and bedrooms.
A crisp white in semi-gloss highlights all the skirting and door trims throughout the home. The soft brown flecks of the continuous loop Endurance carpet compliment the colours in each of the different rooms. A synthetic loom was chosen to alleviate one child’s asthma. To complete the look, replica ‘Tiffany’ stained glass chandeliers were sourced from Early Settler and Trade Me.
For upstairs, the brief was to get as much height as possible. The roofline apex was pushed out to create a gable end and a dormer was relocated. The girls picked the room’s floral ‘Vision’ wallpaper. The feature of this grand ‘princesses room’ are the windows, one round and one soon-to-be transom mullion arch. Because of the curved forms copper window flashing was used outside as it was easier to shape. There is ample storage upstairs with a huge, nearly four-metre-long hidey-hole, two wardrobes, a lockable access to all the wiring and plumbing services plus a large toy storage cupboard on the landing.
The bathroom comprises a fully sealed fibreglass wet room with Englefield acrylic shower walls, designed to fit within the pitching roof angle. An opening skylight provides fresh air and light, and a bespoke shower curtain rail was designed by one of Jeremy’s friends to fit a quirky angle. Methven ‘Minimalist’ tapware and shower fixtures match the downstairs bathroom. A wall-mounted mirror makes good use of limited space. White wall tiles contrast against a dark pebble tile cap that forms a relief to break the bathroom whites. Jeremy lined the shower edge with rustic timber drawers cut from the roof beams.
Next on the Nichols’ renovation list is the kitchen. For the meantime, they have painted the cupboards and papered an entire wall with a Komar Scenics photographic mural. Not surprising perhaps, it features a vast field of Calendula’s, evoking both memories of a holiday in rural Russia and Linda’s childhood.
This home renovation case study by Jason Burgess featured on page 66 issue 007 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
See Our Testimonials