Nineteen years ago, Nicola Heath and Jeff Mann knew they'd found the home for them when they stepped out to the rear of this West End Rd property.
Before them lay a large, sheltered, north-facing back yard with little development but obvious potential.
Nicola recalls the back yard being empty apart from a few fruit trees and "a clothesline smack-bang in the middle, surrounded by concrete".
Jeff adds, "When we walked out and saw the back yard we immediately thought, 'swimming pool'."
That was one of the first improvements they made, dropping a pool in the dip behind the house and surrounding it with decking. This arrangement also helped link the house with the rest of the back yard, which has been terraced, levelled and planted in a subtropical style.
Beyond the pool is a concreted area where their three children can skateboard or practise netball or basketball. A flat lawn is great for cricket and as a site for trampolines.
Jeff says one of the best investments they made was lighting the pool and back yard, because it not only looks spectacular but also encourages children to play outside long into the night.
"When you are entertaining here, you can have six friends over with all their kids - but with the kids playing in the back yard you can hardly hear them," he says.
Outdoor entertaining is made easy with a roofed patio that overlooks the pool and has bifolds out to it from the living room and the kitchen/dining room. This space has an overhead heater that makes it useable all year round. Off to one side, and tucked against the house, is a spa pool that is also covered. Jeff says that having the spa pool to warm up in means the swimming pool gets used even when the weather starts to turn cold.
The outdoor area is one of the many improvements the couple have made to the bungalow, as well as a second renovation of the kitchen and main bathroom.
Ease of use drove the design of the latest version of the kitchen, which has a stone breakfast bar and clever features such as soft-close drawers, overhead hatches and a workspace/appliance cupboard where the clutter can be hidden away behind sliding doors.
Past the tiled bathroom are four bedrooms towards the front of the house - two either side of the hallway - with the master bedroom having an en suite and walk-in wardrobe. A window seat takes in a view of the lush front garden backdropped by a brick wall that was made using the bricks from the home's old chimney. The wall - with keypad entry on the gate - provides security and a sound barrier against traffic noise, making the home surprisingly quiet.
Stairs near the front door take you up to a carpeted second living room above the garage. Over the years it has served as everything from an office to a space for the children to hang out.
Jeff says the internal-access double garage has also proved handy as the kids have grown up. "We used to have the cars in here but they are just lumps of metal and can stay outside, so we've used the garage for a gym, a workshop and as a place for the kids," he says.
"We've put a projector in here and shown movies on the wall with 20 kids in here and bean bags spread around. Afterwards, you just sweep all the mess out the door to the rubbish."
Nicola says the central location was always part of the home's appeal and that has paid off over the years with its proximity to the city, schools, parks, beaches, restaurants and sports clubs.
With the children growing up, Nicola and Jeff are readying themselves for the next phase and have bought a bigger house that is closer to school and to the water. It has more car parking to cope with teenage drivers.By Graham Hepburn