When Reon Krishna and his wife Yan found a huge section in One Tree Hill, they could immediately see its potential.
"It was in 2009, the depths of the recession, so we picked it up for a good price," says Reon, a finance officer for a major construction company.
"There was a solid brick and tile house on the front and room for subdivision. It was two years of thinking and planning before we started digging out."
Their timing couldn't have been better. The 250cu m of dirt they evacuated to create a level building platform went straight to the restoration of nearby Onehunga foreshore, thereby saving tipping fees.
The couple had initially toyed with offering the site to architecture students as a design competition.
But Yan discovered a graduate who'd won an earlier competition, so she tracked him down as he was completing his qualifications at a major firm. They've retained him for their next project, so pleased were they with his work.
"We just wanted to maximise space in every room," says Reon. "I'd grown up in a Lockwood house my dad had built, but when I saw new houses, the bedrooms were so poky.
"We made sure every bedroom is at least 20sq m, the stud heights are 2.55m downstairs
and 2.9m upstairs. The design made the most of every last centimetre of the site coverage and building envelope."
The key to the design was Reon's passion for concrete for its warmth and earthquake performance. The floors are polished concrete with underfloor heating and the walls are concrete panels.
Reon researched concrete construction with Auckland expert Ross Bannon, before engaging Prime Build. The house is highly efficient thermally, with an extraordinary 9.5 Homestar rating. Most new builds are Homestar 6 or 7.
Inside, a few of the concrete walls are covered with fibreglass wallpaper for a more refined look.
Upstairs, Reon and Yan specified insulated gib and wall boards and solid wood doors to prevent sound transmission, while ventilation keeps the air dry.
A former luxury yacht fitter built the wood grain bathroom cabinets, and marble-look tiles gave them the luxury look the were after. The bedrooms all benefit from the light of cathedral-style windows.
The house was designed for privacy. The gated front door lobby keeps the home secure even when the door is open for summer breezes, while sliding walls of glass open to decks and gardens.
The couple's beloved concrete was even used for a custom bar. The Moda kitchen and its 25-year warranty includes high-spec German De Dietrich induction hob, steam and regular ovens, and a Miele dishwasher. There's CAT-5 cabling to run the house and electronics.
But despite their specifying top quality for what they thought would be their long-term home, the arrival of their baby son has prompted Reon and Yan to start another build in the grammar zone, working with the same build and architecture teams.
78A NGATIAWA ST, ONE TREE HILL
• 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• House 254sq m, land 406sq m.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun, noon to 12.30pm.
• Auction: October 18, 1pm
• Schools: One Tree Hill College, Remuera Intermediate, Oranga Primary.
• Contact: Lorraine Young, Harcourts, 021 764 032.