The construction of 19 apartments in and around the heritage building on the corner of St Hill St and Taupō Quay in central Whanganui is slowly taking shape.
Heading the project is Dave Moore of restoration company Villa Services, who said despite a few setbacks the 10-strong crew was still getting on with things.
The first two-bedroom apartment is nearing completion, with two more to follow soon after.
He and his wife Marina Moore bought the building in 2018, along with Sarjeant House in Bell St.
"The next thing we're building is a four-storey apartment next door [St Hill Street], and there's another storey to add to the front of the building.
"We've got resource consent for all of that."
He said they had to constantly adapt as the project continued.
"Conditions are always changing. We are waiting on all the gib for the next two apartments, which is supposed to come at the start of July.
"Like everybody else, we are experiencing increased costs at almost every level.
"It's a matter of staying patient and carrying on."
The current climate in the property market meant carrying on "with a certain amount of faith".
"Whanganui is an attractive city and is still reasonably priced. I can only see more people, like those in the computer industry for instance, coming here to live because they can work from home."
Almost everyone on site had come down with Covid-19, including one person who had caught it twice, Moore said.
"Less people obviously means more time to do the job."
The delayed Bridgewater Apartment development across the road in the former Whanganui Chronicle building is close to a month away from completion.
All 20 apartments have been sold.
Developer John Hay said the practical work would be complete by the end of May.
"There's always a snag list and things you've got to go back and double-check.
"The next big requirement is to obtain the unit titles from LINZ [Land Information New Zealand].
"They are understaffed and people are out with Covid, so that process could take between three and six weeks."
Assuming that would be completed by the end of June, people could move in at the beginning of July, Hay said.
"It's been very frustrating for the people who have bought apartments, particularly the senior citizens - those in my age bracket.
"They've hung in there and it's going to be worth their while. The properties have appreciated, so financially it's okay.
"Many have sold their homes in anticipation of moving in much earlier, and none of us expected these delays. From a developer's point of view, there's no benefit from delaying a project, it just adds to cost."
Moore said he would wait until all the residents had moved into Bridgewater before pushing the promotional side of his own operations.
Some of the exterior walls at the St Hill St building were in worse condition than he had originally thought, and there may need to be brand new frames around the whole front section.
It was constructed in 1896 by hotelier John Brennan, beginning life as the 36-bedroom Metropolitan Hotel.
"Windows had been there previously and when they've been taken out it's just been jack-framed," Moore said.
"Because they've been on the sides of windows, some studs are often rotten in different parts as well.
"It's lucky there has only been a light roof and a single storey on top of there. It would be on the ground otherwise."
While building from scratch was a lot quicker than remedial work, they were keeping as much of the original building intact as possible and saving materials that needed to be removed or demolished, Moore said.
Timber that is recovered but unusable for building may be sold to furniture makers.
"I just tend to smile when the boys come to me and say 'you had better come and look at this'.
"We had planned to just be strengthening but now we have discovered we are rebuilding."
Moore said even after being in the business for 40 years he still got a sense of pride when he saw rebuilds he had been a part of.
"People who renovate and restore historic properties have to have a different mindset. They have to be prepared to accept the challenges and work through them.
"You've got to find ways to get satisfaction from all the extra work."
As for similar developments in Whanganui in the future, Hay said there was a lot of potential.
"I'm hoping the building at 59 Taupō Quay that we've refurbished will be the forerunner for a whole lot more.
"In my mind's eye, I can see beautiful developments running across that waterfront strip, right the way between the two bridges.
"It could be developed into something world class over the next 20 years."