Patience is a virtue not often practised in the property market.
Dean and Lisa Finlay wanted to move back into the Milford-Takapuna area from Torbay when their kids were going to high school.
They'd finished buying an older house on the cusp of Hurstmere and Kitchener Rds and had gone as far as having renovation plans drawn up, when a new build that they'd always admired up the road finally came up for sale five years ago.
"It came on the market as a leaky house, so we knew we could get it at a good price. We used Kaizon, who are experts in refurbishing and rebuilds, and Jason Gibson Architects to bring the house back up to standard," explains Dean.
"We had to move out for five or six months while everything was rebuilt. But it's rock solid now, a fantastic construction. We thought we might as well build as a brand new home, to new building standards."
The key bits of the house that the couple and their four children fell in love with didn't change: a sleek backyard pool and spa with views of the lakeside and park behind it; a striking spine wall that runs from the front door all the way down the hallway to direct visitors to that view, a double height atrium that lights both upstairs and downstairs, and airy living spaces that work equally well for a crowd or a couple.
Built in 2007, the house is a series of modernist boxes, with walls of glass and courtyards to spread light through the long, narrow building.
The re-clad included a German three-coat plaster over concrete block, with aluminium siding on the upper floor, new roofing with proper drainage and falls, and new waterproofed decks.
Some of the huge windows and doors were removed and reinstalled with proper air- and water-tight sills. Even the upper and lower floor decks were completely rebuilt to ensure proper thresholds, and that water drained away from the house.
The couple learned that the first owner of the house had spared no expense on flooring, fixtures and lighting.
Luckily, Lisa was able to locate more of the large format Italian tiles that cover both indoor and outdoor floors to ensure a consistent look (even the heated garage has elegant stone-surfaced tiles).
The family moved back in early 2014, so have enjoyed the waterside living before the older kids moved out.
The only parts of the house that didn't need a rework, the kitchen and bathrooms, were fitted out with more Italian style: sculptural wood pedestal basins and vanities in the four bathrooms and guest loo, large format mosaic wall tiles, and top-end fixtures.
In the sleek white kitchen, with its industrial-style sink and fridge hidden around the corner in the butlers pantry, the couple needed only to replace a Miele coffee machine with a third oven.
They loved the sculptural hood and bar, more furniture than cabinets, that complemented the slab hearth and stainless steel fireplace of the living end of the room.
The dining room overlooks the deck and views - the Finlays added a louvred roof to deal with Auckland's fickle rain and sun, while a sheltered side courtyard accommodates the barbecue and outdoor dining room.
For evenings of watching television, the media room is tucked behind a sliding pocket wall.
Dean retained the huge drop-down screen, but has entirely updated all the sound and video equipment (along with outdoor speakers, security and other electronics).
The family love how the living spaces merge indoors and out, with the house comfortably hosting 70 people for pre-ball parties.
Outdoor life enticed the kids and their kayaks down to the lake, or across the road to Takapuna beach, with soaks afterwards in the spa pool attached to the pool. There is room for boats and toys in the parking bay beside the garage.
The ground floor includes an en suite bedroom that opens to a terrace, as well as an office.
Upstairs is the master suite overlooking the lake. Its glass-edged balcony includes a stainless steel fireplace, a favourite evening gathering place.
The front bedroom, also with en suite, has its own private deck and a glimpse of the sea. There are two further bedrooms and a bathroom.
But it is the sea view that has enticed the Finlays to move: a house on the seaward side of the road has become available so the couple's patient work on this house will be enjoyed by the next family.