An "unliveable" hovel that sat deteriorating in an exclusive Auckland suburb for over a century has undergone a dramatic transformation.

The decrepit 120-year-old settler's cottage in Grey Lynn made national headlines when it sold in late 2014 for $1.075 million.

Barfoot & Thompson agent Kirk Vogel described it then as the worst house he had ever sold.

Read more:
Auckland property: Inside the $1 million Grey Lynn hovel


But the ramshackle Leighton St property came with a story and "soul". Long-time home to late Cook Islands MP and celebrated artist Pomani "Paul" Tangata, the tiny two-bedroom house on its minute 380sq m section had been a place of refuge for the Cook Islands community for decades, hosting countless events, celebrations and memories.

A lack of money, however, and years of neglect saw the property fall badly into disrepair. It developed rotting floorboards, sagging ceilings and threadbare carpet. The walls were stained with years of nicotine and the kitchen and bathroom were long past their distant best.

Though well beyond the threshold of a standard DIY do-up, three Auckland men took up the challenge to transform the derelict property into a modern family home and bring it into the 21st century.

The old house was purchased at auction by Evoke Developments in October 2014 and the company's three directors have spent more than a year working tirelessly on it to create a thing of beauty.

Evoke director Simon Watson declined to discuss the project with the Weekend Herald, having signed an agreement with a television programme ahead of the renovated property's big reveal.

But the huge transformation is nearing completion and the house, which has a 2014 CV of $1.03 million, is rumoured to be worth several million dollars now following its phoenix-like makeover. It is expected to be listed for sale in the coming months.

Evoke Developments, which specialises in buying run-down properties and carrying out high-level renovations, has retained the character of the original Victorian era villa but moved it nearly 2m back to allow off-street parking. The developers have carefully recreated the original 70sq m house using the same or like materials, and built a modern two-storey addition at the rear of the property connected by a glass corridor and courtyard.

The existing villa now features three bedrooms, bathroom, TV room and laundry, and the addition boasts open-plan living and kitchen, upper level master bedroom, ensuite and office.

A resource consent application, which noted the existing villa and buildings were "in very poor condition and the house is unliveable", also envisaged a private backyard pool, which has apparently been ditched.

The house is zoned Residential 1, characterised by historic housing typical of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A property expert told the Weekend Herald it was hard to put a value on the refurbished house in the current market. But several renovated Grey Lynn properties had sold for $3 million in the past year.

The suburb's median selling price during the past six months was $1.25 million, according to Real Estate Institute figures.