Scott Yeoman is a NZ Herald reporter

The $1m Grey Lynn hovel - what it looks like now (not a bad fixer-upper)

Punters will be able to see for themselves the transformation of a dilapidated hovel as the luxurious Grey Lynn home opens for public viewings.

Open homes for the newly renovated property will take place this Saturday and Sunday from 2pm until 3pm and Wednesday 9, from 6pm until 6.45pm.

The decrepit villa at 2 Leighton St in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn made headlines in late 2014 when it sold for $1.075 million, despite being unliveable.

The 120-year-old settlers' cottage had rotting floorboards, sagging ceilings and nicotine-caked walls when it went to auction, with five bidders battling it out for the rundown two-bedroom property.

Now it is being auctioned by Barfoot & Thompson as an "elegant renewed villa".

There will be three weeks of open homes starting this Saturday, followed by an auction.

A new listing for the property on realestate.co.nz describes it as a "stunning fusion of chic character charm and state-of-the-art modern living".

The house sits on 382sq m of land and has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two car spaces.

Those interested in the property are being urged to contact the agents to arrange a private viewing.

The listing says it has gone through a "significant process of rejuvenation" -- but judging by new photos of it, even that seems to be an understatement.

Three young builders from Evoke Developments bought the property in October 2014 and said they wanted to save and restore the crumbling villa.

Builder and co-owner Simon Watson told the Herald this morning that he and his two partners, Thomas Rowe and Rhys Hancock, were "very happy" with the transformation.

"We think it's a pretty cool house and that's testament to a much larger team than the three of us."

Auckland's Metropolitan Architecture Studio were the architects behind the makeover.

The studio's AJ Sutton said the initial state of the house meant it was like working on a "clean slate".

He said the new design aimed to restore the historic villa, as well as add modern features that kept with the character of the home.

Mr Sutton said it was a tricky site but that they were able to separate the older home and new addition by incorporating the courtyard, and the glass and stairwell atrium down the side of the house.

"The whole idea was to be able to open up that whole lower level," Mr Sutton said.

Mr Watson said the whole process had taken almost 18 months non-stop and he encouraged people to have a look at the change for themselves.

"There's a lot of really cool aspects to the house and each one of those things will appeal to different people."

He said the bathrooms are "amazing" and some people will pick up on that, while the glass atrium and central courtyard will appeal to others.

How did they see the potential in this? Photo / Jason Oxenham
How did they see the potential in this? Photo / Jason Oxenham

But how much will the restored villa sell for this time?

Mr Watson suggested looking at some of the other quality homes and renovations that have been sold in Grey Lynn and Ponsonby over the past 12 months.

"I suspect our price would be something around that," he said.

Last month, the Herald reported that several renovated Grey Lynn properties had sold for $3 million in the past year and that the suburb's median selling price during the past six months was $1.25 million, according to Real Estate Institute figures.

However, Mr Watson said he and his partners were not hung up on a price.

"The property is for sale and will be sold, so the market will tell us what it's worth. We want to sell the property and move on to the next project."

He said it is hard to know how much a house will go for and that "you've got to be nervous and you've got to be apprehensive" about this sort of thing.

"Confident is a tricky word for it, really. It's more, we've done our homework, we think we know our market and the feedback that we've had so far is that the property is great."

He said the neighbourhood and community of Leighton St had been supportive of the build and that without their help and assistance it would have been much harder. He thanked them.

New pictures of the villa show a stylish and upmarket home with a seamless, open-plan flow throughout.

It has expensive-looking neutral-coloured fittings.

The online listing says it is a "light-filled home" which includes a solid American oak hallway, polished concrete floors, double-glazing throughout, multiple private spaces including a double-storey glass atrium and an outdoor fireplace.

There is even an app through which you can run the house from your cellphone.

The upstairs master bedroom features a floor-to-ceiling tiled ensuite and the backyard is described as "blissful" and "designer", surrounded by olive trees.

But it also has a story and a "soul".

It was the long-time home to late Cook Islands MP and celebrated artist Pomani "Paul" Tangata. It had been a place of refuge for the Cook Islands community for decades, hosting countless events and celebrations.

Mr Watson said he and his partners, as well as many of those that have seen the new house, were happy the integrity and heritage of the villa had been kept intact.

"So people are really positive about that. They walk through the front door and are impressed and blown away by the renovation and development of it."

- NZ Herald

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