It was undoubtedly fate that resulted in Darrell and Jocelyn Naden buying their Manurewa home four years ago. The house wasn't on the market but they ended up buying it, thanks to a series of coincidences.
The couple were thinking about moving and decided to check out The Gardens, a popular neighbourhood of upmarket homes. They just happened to drive into a small private lane, ending up outside a large Georgian-style home with expansive gardens. They admired the impressive house before turning around and heading off.
Later that afternoon, Jocelyn received a phone call from an acquaintance who turned out to be the owner of the house. He'd recognised Jocelyn's car and phoned her to see if she might be interested in buying the property, even though it wasn't officially for sale.
The Nadens went back to look at the inside of the house and straight away could see themselves and their four children living there. So they put in an offer and the deal was done. "I think it was one of those things that was meant to be," says Jocelyn. "We found it by complete fluke - you can't see the house from the road so you would never know it is there."
Then the fact that it was owned by someone she knew was astonishing. "We didn't even know that it was his house until he rang me. It was pretty amazing the way it all worked out," says Jocelyn.
The property is a great mix of town-and-country living. It's close to amenities in Manukau and within easy reach of the motorway, but has a rural feel, with great views out to the Hunua Ranges in the distance.
Set on a generous section of more than 6000sq m, there's plenty of outdoor space, as well as a large five-bedroom house and a separate self-contained flat.
The house started life in the 1980s as a fairly modest Universal Home, and the original owners gave it a makeover which included adding a huge new living room and swimming pool and converting the existing garage into a flat. They also put in a new three-car garage.
Shortly before the Nadens bought the house, the owner carried out extensive refurbishments, including moving the staircase and extending the family bathroom, en suite and one of the bedrooms upstairs. He also redecorated throughout so, when the family moved in, they didn't need to do anything. "Everything he did was top quality, such as the bathrooms, which are fully tiled," says Jocelyn.
She especially loved the kitchen, which has a black granite bench, gas oven and a large walk-in pantry. It's part of an open-plan area that includes an informal dining room and lounge which open via ranch sliders to an expansive patio and the heated pool.
The Nadens found they used the informal dining area all the time so turned the formal dining room next to the kitchen into an office/man cave. Another study is at the far end of the house, off the children's spacious lounge. A bathroom and separate laundry complete the downstairs layout.
Upstairs are five bedrooms, including the master suite with its own balcony, roomy en suite and large closets. Another balcony is off the landing, and the family bathroom has a large spa bath and separate shower.
The adjoining flat has two bedrooms and is fully self-contained.
Having such a big section means the family has had lots of pets, and chickens. There's also plenty of room for the children to run around, and to entertain. "We've had some great parties, including one where we put up a marquee," recalls Jocelyn.
It is the perfect family home, she says, but she and Darrell have decided to sell because they'd like to build a house from scratch.