Sometimes life is about making compromises as Jill and Vern Warren found when they decided to build their dream home in the rolling hills of the Waimauku countryside.
The problem was they couldn't find a section that fitted their wish list. And moving away from Waimauku was also out of the question.
"When we couldn't find anything; we thought we would look for a house instead," says Jill.
"But it needed to have the wow factor.
"After a year of looking all around this area, I had gone to the movies with a couple of girlfriends and one asked how the search was going. I said don't even talk to me about it, we are staying put in the house we have."
But her friend suggested Jill and Vern visit a house that was "a little bit different" in a private subdivision, Wharauroa Estate*.
"I drove to the house and no one was living there," Jill remembers. "So, I climbed over the gate and peered in all the windows. And what I saw when I walked down the drive was a house with character and the view was stunning.
"Although it needed a big upgrade, the basic design offered a great starting point to create our dream home."
In 2014, the couple bought the cedar home, which includes a self-contained studio apartment above the double garage. They were pleased with the setting but felt the layout seemed out of sync.
"The house needed balance, so after purchasing we added about 100sq m to the downstairs living areas," says Vern.
The weatherboard home's roofing is mainly Decramastic tiles but for the extension, the roof is welded membrane.
"And we rejigged part of the downstairs. We moved the kitchen, the pantry and organised the family room in a different way. We moved the bathroom, added a 4x4m study and created a cellar."
They replaced all the windows, enlarging many.
Flooring is engineered American oak, plus carpet in the living room and the bedrooms.
"And the kitchen with its granite benches and the huge scullery with a single F&P dish drawer are all my dreams come true," says Jill. "When we entertain, the kitchen and its huge central bench and the Falcon with three ovens and a separate grill plus the Miele dishwasher make everything so easy."
The dining and the three living areas are interlinked with glass doors separating the lounge, and its open fire, from the two family areas. All have sliding doors on to the 61sq m deck with its views over the countryside.
"That view is safeguarded by rural zoning, it will never be built on," says Jill.
"If we have a party with lots of people, they tend to be on the deck out from the kitchen living areas, but it spills over into the courtyard.
"And when the grandkids are here, they are always in the courtyard because of the swim spa."
Jill and Vern certainly aren't the sorts to sit back and put their feet up. As well as the work inside the home, they have transformed half of the 1.0105ha into colourful gardens with vegetables, herb, shrubs and fruit trees. At the bottom of the garden is a pond that attracts pukeko, one of the 32 varieties of birds they have counted.
"The other half of the land could be home to pet sheep, orchard trees or there's even room for a pony," says Jill.
They enjoy living at Waimauku with its many clubs — Rotary, tennis, bowls, Lions, SeniorNet, etc.
It is five minutes' drive to Waimauku, 10 to Kumeu, 20 to NorthWest mall and 30 to Albany.
"There are five medical centres within 10 minutes of our house, two dentists in Kumeu, lots of kindergartens and childcare centres. It is serviced incredibly well considering that off-peak it is 35 minutes into the city," says Jill.
They are selling so they can move into a retirement village.
Vern says they have made up their minds to move. "At the same time there is a bit of reluctance because we love it here so much."
*Owners of the 11 blocks on the Wharauroa Estate are part of a company and pay an annual fee of around $1100 to upkeep common areas (driveway, verges and covenanted bush) plus a portion goes into a reserve fund for future larger maintenance.
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