Strowan Home - DJ Hewitt Builders | ArchiPro

Strowan Home

The streetscapes around Christchurch—and indeed the landscape itself—have changed dramatically post-earthquakes with new commercial and residential buildings replacing the many damaged and destroyed landmarks.

While the visual changes are easily recognised there are a number of regulatory changes as a result of the earthquakes that are not readily apparent, such as rules around the types of construction now permissible.

“This site is located in a TC3 green zone, which means that moderate to significant land damage from liquefaction is possible in future significant earthquakes,” says Daryl Hewitt, Owner of DJ Hewitt Builders.

“As a result, this home has been designed with a jackable, RibRaft slab—two slabs with jacks and steel-reinforcing in between—which means that in case the house is affected by liquefaction following a seismic event, it can be easily relevelled.

“The increase in red tape following the earthquakes is both a good and a bad thing. Sometimes it feels like you spend more time on documentation than you do the actual build. That said, it has brought about some much needed improvements to the industry particularly around products and materials. Aspects such as strength and durability, insulation and weathertightness are so much better—water doesn’t tell any lies, you only get one chance to get it right.”

Daryl says even with the added level of complexity, this home—designed by O’Neil Architecture—was a fairly easy build.

“We came on board with the project fairly late in the design process, which, while it worked out fine in this case, we do generally prefer earlier involvement as we can bring our expertise to bear on any potential construction issues that may arise from the design.

“The existing house had been removed and all that remained on the site at the start of the build process was an old garage, which was quickly dispatched. The project was for a two-storey home with living and guest accommodation downstairs and three bedrooms plus two bathrooms upstairs. The site also enjoys views over the adjoining park at the rear of the property.”

Externally, the material palette includes RockCote Integra, horizontal cedar and schist on the chimney, with Colorsteel flashing to match the joinery.

“The palette of materials keeps evolving with new products, particularly around cladding, coming to market all the time and this is quite a high-end mix of products, which really suits the architecture.

“Inside, the home features a sleek modern-designed kitchen of dramatic dark tones, grey stone and timber accented with steel-framed pendant lighting. The walk-in pantry, which houses the gas cooktop, bench and sink, closes off with a sliding door for a client who loves to cook but also likes a clean and tidy kitchen when entertaining guests.

“The finishing touch is an automation system that controls lighting, blinds, audio visual, gas, security camera and under-floor heating.”

Daryl says that perhaps the biggest stand-out feature of the home though is the wide opening leading from the kitchen to outdoors.

“It’s certainly a dramatic feature that threw up one or two challenges including needing to accommodate three large stacking doors within a specially designed wall with a cavity of only 150mm.

“Similarly, lots of glass means lots of steel and when you’re dealing with factors of size, it makes matters that much more complex and precise.”

Daryl has been in the industry for more than 25 years, having started out on the tools before establishing Daryl Hewitt Builders.

“I do miss aspects of the day-to-day and still get to be involved but nowadays my time is pretty much taken up with the logistics of overseeing a team of 25 working Christchurch-wide. The whole crew is passionate about their work, which mostly involves architecturally designed homes. We particularly enjoy projects that involve a high level of craftsmanship—we enjoy a challenge.

“Around 50 per cent of our projects come to us via word of mouth with the rest being referrals from architects and designers. I like to keep a flow of jobs—at all stages of the process: planning, building, hand over—on the go at any one time.

Words by: Justin Foote
Photography by: Jamie Armstrong Photography

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This new home in Christchurch has replaced a home that was damaged in the earthquakes. As the property is located in a TC3 zone, the house features a RibRaft slab, allowing it to be easily relevelled in the event of liquefaction.
An exterior palette of schist, cedar weatherboards, plaster and kwila decking impart a modern feel and complement the bold architectural lines.
A dramatic interior scheme featuring a mix of stone and timber against a palette of contrasting colours continues the contemporary theme.
Wide-format stacking doors are concealed within a specially designed wall cavity to create one vast opening between indoors and out.
Thanks to a pocket door, the scullery can be closed off from the rest of the kitchen, successfully hiding any items of clutter and leaving the main part of the kitchen free for cooking.
The guest bathroom features an all-white scheme for a light, bright and airy feel.
Drama is the name of the game in the powder room with metallic accents offsetting dark tones.
Texture and contrast can be found in the main ensuite bathroom, which features design elements from throughout the home.
Each room on the ground floor has direct access to the large deck and an easy flow from space to space.
The design of the home is very reminiscent of midcentury modern architecture by notables such as Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig.