By Donna Fleming
The new owners of Sharlene and Chris Flatt's Cambridge home will be getting an added bonus when the house becomes theirs.
Along with the keys to the character-filled home, which dates back to the late 1930s-early 1940s, they'll be handed an album containing the history of the house and its owners over the last 70-plus years.
"It's got pictures of the original house and has been handed down from owner to owner - it even has a list of the owners in the back," says Chris. "We will definitely keep the tradition going and pass it on."
It was the age and period style of the house that won Sharlene and Chris over when they were house-hunting five years ago, along with its location in popular Cambridge.
Sharlene grew up there and after years based in Wellington, was delighted to be able to return to her hometown.
Aucklander Chris was familiar with the area after going to Waikato University. "When the opportunity came up to move to Hamilton for work, I jumped at it."
It takes him around 25 minutes to commute from Cambridge, but as he points out, the town has such good shops, restaurants and cafes there's hardly any need to go elsewhere.
The Grey St house was the fifth place the Flatts saw in Cambridge during their home search, and they liked it from the moment they walked in the front door.
"It had been upgraded by a previous owner, it still had lots of charm dating back to the 1930s and 40s," says Chris.
Sharlene says: "People told us he put in a lot of hard work - the house was his pride and joy - and you can see that."
Features such as wooden panelling in the hall and dining room had been carefully preserved, but modern touches such as the updated bathroom and kitchen make it an easy home to live in.
Other than general upkeep, Sharlene and Chris have had to do little to it in the years that they've been there.
They put in a log-burning fire and an HRV system, and as a result have a toasty warm house in winter. There are also a couple of heat pumps, but they tend to get used for cooling.
There's great flow between the living and dining rooms and the kitchen, and the bedrooms are all generous sizes.
The Flatts have been using one of the bedrooms as an office - with external access, it makes a perfect work-from-home space.
The spacious double garage is an ideal man cave, says Chris, and has been handy over the years for kids' parties when the weather is inclement.
But the piece de resistance of the property is the back yard. It's large, flat and private, thanks to the tall hedge.
There are fruit trees, swings and a big playhouse, built by the previous owner.
Sharlene and Chris' three children can play safely in the garden while mum and dad watch from the roomy back deck, which is partially covered and has built-in seating.
"It's really great for entertaining, and little touches like lights in the trees make it such a nice place to sit in the summer," says Chris.
"It's got a great vibe - our friends and family are really going to miss coming over."
The garden is big enough that when Sharlene's mum wanted 70 guests for her 70th birthday, there was space to put up a marquee.
The Flatts might have considered adding an en suite and walk-in wardrobe to the master bedroom but they've decided to make the move to somewhere with more land so their children can have an array of animals.
It will be up to future owners to enhance the property even more.
Chris says: "You really do get the sense that this house has been treasured over the years, and hopefully the next owners will carry that tradition on."