Dan Warren and his wife Sophia Quilian were living in Onehunga and wanted to shorten travelling time to Auckland's CBD. Sophia had been through this villa but Don had seen it only from the outside.

Says Sophia: "I'd really liked it but with everything it offered I thought it would be the sort of property we wouldn't be able to buy until next time around."

"It was perfect given we've got two boys and this is grammar zoned and central but with lots of green space nearby.

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"It's north-facing with four bedrooms, a double garage and a good amount of land."

The couple knew the property was empty, so Dan did some last minute recognisance on the morning of the auction.

"I biked here on the way to work, jumped the fence, peered through windows and had a good look under the house," he says.

"That gave me an idea of its condition and I knew Sophia had had a good look."

They stretched their budget to buy it and have lived here with sons Joseph, 12, and
George, 10, for nine years.

"It's been a great place for a family," says Sophia.

The couple know developers may also be interested in its 635sq m section, zoned for H6 residential terrace and apartment buildings.

The location has been brilliant.

Sophia works five minutes' walk away at a media agency and Dan bikes to work at his bank's CBD headquarters.

Says Sophia: "Since the boys were about seven they've been walking to Parnell School with other neighbourhood kids, which takes around 10 minutes."

Adds Dan: "We use the Parnell pools often in summer and can walk down to Judges Bay with our kayaks on a trolley and go out into the open water from there."

Their villa near the Rose Gardens has a roadside double garage with neighbouring path up to the front veranda.

They couple people are surprised when they see the house and land are good sizes.

Dan says: "Previous owners had already extended the house and because it sits forward on the section without wasted space along the sides you get a decent-sized backyard."

The circa 1910 villa with a 3.3m stud features beamed ceilings, ceiling roses and sash windows.

There are four good-sized bedrooms, including the master with walk-in wardrobe and en suite. There's a pull-down ladder to attic storage, separate laundry and family bathroom.
Dan says: "We found our first winter here a bit of a challenge, wearing beanies for warmth, so we put in central heating and floor and ceiling insulation."

Polished kauri floors continue into the roomy open-plan rear. This light-filled, north-facing expanse includes the main lounge with open fireplace and a second seating area where window seats conceal storage.

Sophia designed the kitchen to include a generous stone bench, abundant storage, a 90cm-wide oven and a computer nook.

Dan says: "It's quiet and with the trees and birds you don't feel like you're in the middle of the city."

There's also a basement storage room plus under-house storage.

The family are moving to Christchurch, where Dan was born and has family.

16 CLEVELAND RD, PARNELL
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 635sq m, house 174sq m.
• Auction: Nov 22 (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-1.45pm.
• Schools: Double grammar.
• Contact: Fleur Denning, Bayleys, 021 027 23624.