Building an ambitious mansion in Te Arai almost proved too much for a New Plymouth couple, who found their stamina strained by cramped temporary living conditions and ever-inflating costs as they build their dream home.
Vince and Cathy Moores' story featured on Grand Designs NZ this week, as the couple set out to build their dream home on a 2ha site at Te Arai, north of Auckland.
The couple, who met while travelling in Europe, are refreshingly frank and honest about Vince's battle with depression, which he says he fell into nine years ago after losing his mother, their son's hospitalisation and the global financial crisis.
"I went into this really bad place where I couldn't even get out of the house for a year, and unfortunately didn't respond to medication," he says.
"We had to look at life differently," says Cathy.
Vince found his way out through cycling; he biked through several continents around the world. The dream of the Te Arai lodge was inspired by Vince and Cathy's new-found desire for a simple life, with a home in which they could house their friends and family, returning the favour for people they'd met overseas.
The lodge is centred around a giant atrium which will make up the living room and kitchen. On either side are self-contained wings, while Vince and Cathy's room sits in a loft above.
The couple pulled out all the stops for their dream home; along with a 20m swimming pool, there's a yoga and dance studio, a petanque court for Vince and terraced vegetable gardens for Cathy.
But the couple's already-generous $2 million budget soon spun out of control, and they found themselves cramped into an on-site shed with two of their children.
"I wonder if they really need such huge house?" asked host Chris Moller. "It feels to me more like an inn or a lodge. Can they afford it in the long run? I really hope so. It would be tragic if they had to sell it."
The pressure almost became too much for Vince, who considered calling off the build.
"The last few months have been pretty tough," he said. "When I go into a bit of a dark place, I withdraw, like a lot of blokes do, I don't talk about issues.
"I think there needs to be a greater understanding of mental health and how it affects people ... I don't think a lot of people understand it because on the surface, hey we're living the dream here," he said, tearing up.
Cathy forged ahead with the build and eventually their dream home became a reality.
"The journey to get here was a lot harder than we thought it might be," said Cathy.
"Last night was our first night in this room. We lit the fire, and the family came around the table, and we all said, 'this feels like home'," she said, choking back tears.
The couple say the project cost them just under $5m - which they say they've accepted, as they plan to run the home as a business for people to hire as a place to stay.