Helen Meale had an admiring eye for one of Waiuku's grandest old homesteads long before it went on the market.
Howden House, known as The Hill, has held its prominent position on the main road leading down into the town for 100 years.
Dr Ernest Howden built the home when Waiuku was still a remote, rural outpost, and he had the house designed by G Selwyn Goldsbro', a well-known architect of the day, says Helen.
It is a mix of Californian Bungalow and Arts & Crafts styles. Helen describes the five bedroom residence as "splendid".
The house was built on extensive grounds of more than 7.3ha after the one Ernest originally lived in burnt down during World War I, says Helen.
That gave the doctor the chance to build this one for which he demanded fine craftsmanship — and reinforced floors for dancing.
Ernest's son Peter, also a doctor, lived in the house until his death in 2003 at the age of 91 and Helen says after that a "for sale" sign went up with the word "entrepreneur" across it.
She had been in her home town of Christchurch attending her mother's funeral and when she came back and saw the sign, her heart sank.
"It worried me it was up for sale and was being targeted at entrepreneurs for developing so I reacted quite strongly to that."
She feared the house would be demolished and the grounds carved up into sections.
She went as far as putting an ad in the paper to see if the community was interested in acquiring the property but didn't get much response so she and husband David bought it.
She now feels ready to let the Heritage B building go and hopes it attracts a buyer who will appreciate it as much as her.
One of the things that makes the house unusual is the built-in surgery that is pretty much a museum with original tools of the trade.
There are many other historic aspects to the property that Helen admits is largely original inside; so there is work to do.
"The house itself, the interior, had virtually not been touched since the place was built,
apart from when the younger doctor, the son, Peter, and his wife, did some modernisation which I think was probably, looking at the style, 50s and 60s so a lot of formica, chrome and pelmets."
Helen says while people will be able to modernise in keeping with the character of the property, there is a conservation plan that protects certain features of particular historical interest and value.
She still has the original specifications for the build, "a rather tattered-looking document", with the architect's name on the outside.
"The directions to the builders were very, very firm in terms of masterly craftsmanship. It makes delightful reading really."
Helen says there are many options for buyers to consider, as she and David gained resource consent for two strategically placed sections that could finance the cost of restoring the house.
38 KITCHENER RD, WAIUKU
• 5* bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 2** parking spaces.
• House: 252sq m, plus sheds, land 7350sq m.
• Price: By negotiation.
• Inspect: Sun 2-3pm, or by appointment.
• Schools: View Road, Waiuku College.
• Contact: Kevin Seymour, Harcourts, 027 434 5563, Kay Wain, 022 653 9739.