State houses have always been sought after by first home buyers because of their simple but reliable construction.

It was that aspect that appealed to Stephen and Veronica Covic when they bought theirs in 1992 - and the fact they could subdivide the section to hopefully help subsidise the purchase.

Today, the successive extensions and renovations the couple has done over 25 years mean the original weatherboard and tile home has all-but been engulfed - although some joinery and the native timber floors remain.

Orakei, originally developed as a "garden suburb" to provide affordable homes for workers close to the city, has a proud history of state homes.


In 1937, when unionist Tom Skinner and his family moved into a state house in Coates Ave, then-Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage - one of the architects of the social welfare state - helped carry their furniture in.

When the Covics moved in, with a son on the way, the family knew their simple home had to grow, so in 1993 they added another storey with two bedrooms and a bathroom. In 2004, they extended the upstairs, adding two more bedrooms and another bathroom.

In 2014, they modernised the downstairs, including moving and renovating the kitchen and adding a covered deck with skylights.

Veronica says their next step was going to be modernising the upstairs but when they saw a new development going on two doors down, they decided to buy into it.

"We liked the idea of a new home with everything done and no more renovations," says Veronica. "The upstairs could do with refreshing but we will leave that to new owners."

The first two renovations were designed by Ron Herbert and the third by local architect Paul Clements.

With the latest renovation, Paul Clements suggested they push the kitchen out into the open-plan living space to create room behind it for a scullery on one side and a laundry on the other.

From the laundry you move through to the double garage, where the laundry used to be. Veronica has kept the old laundry tubs in here.

"They are great for muddy sports gear and that sort of thing."

Through french doors off the open plan living area, the sheltered deck is screened from neighbours by a tall hedge.

"We throw the doors open and spend a lot of time out here on the deck because it is so sunny," says Veronica.

At the front of the house, the lounge overlooks the formal gardens, which include buxus, camellias and roses.

What were two bedrooms at the back of the house have been combined to create a rumpus room/TV room, which was popular with the couple's son and daughter when they were still at home.

On the top floor there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, one an en suite to the master, which opens to a north-facing balcony with harbour views.

From one of the bedrooms at the rear of the house the couple can also keep an eye on the progress of their new home.

Stephen, who grew up in Orakei, says the suburb enjoys a central location with great transport links.

He says the walks around Orakei Basin are a pleasure, and Eastridge Shopping Centre is also an easy stroll away.

While Veronica says they have had enough of renovations, they are applying a lot of the knowledge they have picked up along the way to their new home.

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