Whether it's taking the roof off a house to transport it so it doesn't hit power lines, digging out sand from a section that is supporting a two storey house, or taking on a job on a remote island that you can only access by water, builder Jimmy Dow loves the challenge of "the tricky jobs no one else wants to do".

Owner of building company Coast NZ Construction with wife Charlie, Jimmy and the team specialise in renovations which he says are "all an adventure".

"Whether it's putting in a new deck or bathroom, doing a total overhaul, or building a new home from scratch, we treat every project like it's our own. For the client, this can be one of the most important decisions and highest spends in their lives, and we take that very seriously."

Jimmy wears his "heart on sleeve" in every project, caring about every detail, doing the best job and spending the clients' money wisely as if it were his own.

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 Coast NZ Construction owners Jimmy and Charlie Dow renovated their own home in Papamoa Beach
Coast NZ Construction owners Jimmy and Charlie Dow renovated their own home in Papamoa Beach

His first-hand knowledge of renovations comes not just as a builder of many years' experience, but from personal experience of the couple's own renovations.

The couple recently transformed an old derelict railway home at Papamoa Beach into a stunning coastal family home with sweeping views to the sea and rolling farmland.

"When we bought the house seven years ago, everyone thought we were mad — we had a 6-week-old baby at the time. The house was 100 years old, only 90 square metres, and so derelict you could see daylight through the walls," laughs Charlie.

This vision they had is adopted for all their builds, as the pair are creative thinkers.

"Back then there was nothing out here but a Four Square and the school. But we loved the site which was a mix of farm and coast."

The top floor of the home has a stunning Rimu floor made from timber from the former Railway House
The top floor of the home has a stunning Rimu floor made from timber from the former Railway House

It took years for their plan to come to fruition, with some ideas scrapped along the way — such as building a Queenslander style house on top of the old one. In the end they removed the house and started from scratch — taking the roof off to transport it when they realised it would hit the powerlines.

They retained some original materials from the house including the roof framing which now makes the stunning rimu stairs and floors on the top level of their new home.

Learning to compromise and thinking outside the square are important lessons in any build, says Jimmy, and it is something the team pride themselves in navigating clients through.

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The stairs are made from timber from the former Railway House
The stairs are made from timber from the former Railway House

"While we try to plan for everything, it is important to keep an open mind in a build. You might find when a wall is knocked down you want a window in a different place. Or something you set your heart on that is just too expensive for your budget, but something similar can still be achieved."

Jimmy and the team pride themselves on this type of creative thinking and pride in craftsmanship that sets Coast NZ Construction apart.

"Everything we do is tailored to what the individual clients want. We respect their budget and can still make details look stunning in a cost effective way — our own raked ceiling for example is actually constructed of ply with white tape to create a negative detail with a beautiful result."

The couple started Coast NZ Construction just over five years ago and now have 12 builders on the team — and many jobs on the go, big and small.

The Coast NZ Construction team with owners Charlie Dow (centre in black) and Jimmy Dow (second from right)
The Coast NZ Construction team with owners Charlie Dow (centre in black) and Jimmy Dow (second from right)

Now with three children aged 2, 4 and 7, family is everything for Jimmy and Charlie. Most of the team has been with them since the beginning, and are treated as part of the family.

"It is important to us that the team reaps the benefits. We pay above the going rate. If one of them has a baby, we help out with vouchers and meals. For us, it is part of the pride of the job, seeing the team flourish, going on that family holiday, buying that car," says Charlie.

Many of the team, like Charlie and Jimmy, are in their late 30s early 40s with families, and they all have regular catch-ups over beers and a barbecue.

This family-orientated environment seeps into the jobs they do, with the team adopting the same caring approach to service as Charlie and Jimmy. The team often become like family to the clients.

"We even had one job where the foreman took the kids to daycare. We moved another into the house. Clients make us cheese scones and the boys stay extra long making sure everything is clean and tidy. It is going back to that old way of doing things — it is not just a job to us, and the boys are not just clocking in but we are all on the same wavelength wanting to get everything absolutely right."

From the outset, when clients first meet Coast NZ Construction to discuss a potential job, Jimmy and Charlie invite them into their own home for a coffee.

The house has stunning views of the Papamoa coast
The house has stunning views of the Papamoa coast

"It is important to get to know each other so I am not just a random builder turning up at their house in a Holden. The clients get to see how we are, with the kids running around outside on the skate bowl Jimmy built, and the motocross track at the end of the gate.

Seeing our house they also see our craftsmanship. When we prepare the quote we don't just email it, we have them back to go through it line by line. We also build in a figure for contingencies."

Transparency is another aspect setting Coast NZ Construction apart. They run an "open book" system in which the client sees every entry itemised, including the company's own mark up, and receives fortnightly invoices.

"It helps enormously with keeping on track and on budget, and builds that trust."
Jimmy can't say enough about the input of Mount ITM into his jobs.

"They are just amazing, like family too. What I like about them is that they really get to know you — they get on first name terms and treat everyone the same whatever the size of the job. They are always there for advice and we really value their experience — not just on building but when we first set out they were incredibly helpful, their office lady sat down with Charlie to teach her how to use the Xero accounting system."

Mount ITM are very responsive when needed.

"We had an issue with our own job with the rafters, and they immediately got a crane to us to help us lift them up. Not only that, but we borrowed their man cage to take the lads up so we could see the site from above and take photos — we had to change our undies that day."

The builder's own home showcases the craftmanship of Coast NZ Construction
The builder's own home showcases the craftmanship of Coast NZ Construction

Mount ITM were also helpful in the logistics of a tricky job on Mayor Island — when cabins needed renovating Jimmy took the materials out on a barge with a couple of old mattresses used as a makeshift boat ramp on the other side. The team stayed out there four days at a time putting new roofs, doors, windows and joinery into the cabins, making them insulated and fully inhabitable.

Another adventure was in a renovation on Oceanbeach Rd when the team had to clear sand from a site which had a two storey house and two five metre retaining walls.
Jimmy loves the "adventure" of building.

"It is like going back to pioneering times — after you have done things like the Mayor Island renovation, even other tricky renovations seem simpler, because hey at least we have a road and power."

The couple and team's fun sense of adventure means that building with them is a pleasurable experience. "Of course there are stressful times but we have laughs and make it fun."

Jimmy's last tip for anyone considering renovating.

"Don't let the Mrs control the budget," he laughs.

— Coast NZ ConstructionJimmy and Charlie Dow
info@coastnz.co.nz / 021 877989
coastnz.co.nz and Instagram @coastnz

Mount ITM
24 Owens Place, Bayfair, Mt Maunganui
07 575 3126.