An architect is so passionate about creating new infill housing in Hastings, he decided to build a model for the city's future in his own backyard.
Infill and higher density housing feature heavily in the new Hastings Place Based Housing Plan which calls for quarter-acre plots to become sites for dense, diverse and visually interesting new homes.
The new build in Mayfair fits that model and is the brainchild of architect and interior design couple John and Nikki McNamara.
Having moved to Hawke's Bay from Auckland two years ago, they hoped to avoid some of the housing "ills" seen there, specifically stopping the spread of urban sprawl onto productive land.
"It's like a horrible disease - the spread of suburbs into agrarian landscapes," John said. "The idea is to densify."
The couple bought the Jervois St property, which included a 410sq m section, about 18 months ago.
After renovating and selling the property at the front to a young couple - first-home buyers - the McNamaras subdivided and began building a 105sq m infill home out back.
Where the "tired, old garage" once sat, there's a new three-bed, two-bath home with high ceilings and two decks overlooking a tidy garden.
It took about seven months to build, using materials readily available at any hardware or construction store and with parts of the frame pre-assembled locally.
While it has a small footprint, it's "deceptively large" inside, John says.
"The biggest issue with the house was during the design phase and trying to make the programme of three bedrooms, two bathrooms fit into the small footprint."
Most general residential subdivisions in Hastings have a minimum site size of 350sq m but some can go as small as 250sq m.
Infill homes built on subdivided sections are required to sit three metres away from the boundary under the Hastings District Council plan.
"We were quite particular about the site of the house," he said. "It's been pushed right back into the corner. That's really important with infill housing."
The other big challenge was access to the building site.
"You've got to have that access to get the materials down here."
Navigating neighbouring properties, fences and even trees can complicate construction.
He said sometimes not enough thought was given to the occupants, their cars and vehicle movements, particularly where homes might be rented out with multiple cars needing parks.
"We've seen in Auckland and seen it starting to happen here, if you don't get the cars right the streets start to fill up.
"You end up getting quite a bit of anger. I think it's one of the reasons infill housing is given a bad rap."
John wouldn't be drawn on the cost of the build or how much he hoped to sell it for as it was currently on the market.
Canstar statistics show the average cost of a new build in Hawke's Bay in 2020 was $2429 per square metre.
While they could have built a bigger house on the site for less, John said he wanted to create something which was "sympathetic" to the design of other homes in the area.
Its sun-soaked, boxed window seat echoes the shape of another in the home at the front of the section.
"As an architect you always want to try to increase the amenity of not only your own property but the surroundings as well."
If given the opportunity to develop and build on a similar infill site, he said he would do it "in a heartbeat".
"We'd love to do another of these."