15 FERRYHILL RD, EPSOM
Step inside this slick, contemporary house past the deceptively modest street facade and it's easy to see why Wendy Walker describes it as her dream home come true.
"Unfortunately, it has come too many years too late," she says candidly.
When Wendy and her husband bought this, their first home, 20 years ago, they were attracted by the private full site, sunny northwest orientation and views to the Waitakeres.
The professional couple also knew they would need a live-in nanny when they had children and this three-level 1930s Arts and Crafts-style house had a separate two-bedroom flat on its lower level as well as three other bedrooms.
Their children Sam, now 18, and Harriet, 17, have both grown up in the house and attended the local state schools it is zoned for, which include Epsom Normal Primary, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls' Grammar.
Wendy says the plan to demolish the existing house and build a new one was sidetracked when they decided to build a holiday home in the South Island.
When they eventually started seriously planning a new house for this Epsom site they got caught in changes to council by-laws that place restrictions on character homes.
"We agonised over what to do but eventually decided to renovate the existing house."
They employed a heritage architect and went through two resource consent processes before beginning an extensive, year-long building project that was completed in 2010.
The steeply sloping back lawn had already been re-contoured in 2000 to accommodate a 15m infinity swimming pool and lower lawn, which are surrounded by subtropical planting including striking shiny leafed ligularias.
"We started at the back and moved forward so the swimming pool could be excavated before we began work on the house."
The renovation included lifting the house, moving it forward 5m and excavating underneath to create a capacious lower level that incorporates most of the main living spaces and opens out to the swimming pool and a north-facing courtyard.
This area is one level below the street and accessed by an industrial-style concrete staircase.
It includes a state-of-art open-plan kitchen and butler's pantry, a double-height dining area with soaring windows and polished concrete floors and a light-filled lounge with a gas fireplace.
Also on this level are a large pool room, media room and laundry that opens to a courtyard and clothes line area.
On the mid level where you enter the house are a second living room with elegant leadlights - one of the few spaces retained from the original house - a northwest-facing master bedroom, en suite and walk-in wardrobe, a guest bedroom and en suite, separate toilet, study and linen room.
Two doors in the hallway on this level lead to an internally accessed three-car garage.
"When people come here for the first time they are completely surprised as you can't tell from the street what the inside is like. It's basically a brand new house."
The upper floor has two double bedrooms and family bathroom, a separate flat with a bedroom, en suite, walk-in wardrobe, kitchenette, dining/lounge area and another room that could be a bedroom, separate lounge or office.
Now that their children are studying away from home, Wendy says it is time to move to somewhere smaller and focus on building a second holiday home up north.