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The Unbuildable Site

There’s a well-known adage that anything good is worth fighting for, and Todd Hatley appears to be a man who believes it. A builder by trade, Todd found the perfect site for his new family home – a leafy section overlooking a reserve on a cliff looking out to the Hauraki Gulf. Problem was, it was too leafy, and a large pohutukawa tree stood firm in the way of Todd getting the architecturally designed home he wanted.

Todd’s brief to architectural draftsman Garth Kennedy was for ‘a modern-day beach house’. Problem was, anecdotal evidence showed that others before Todd had tried to build on the site, but to no avail. The general architectural consensus was that the site was ‘unbuildable’, largely due to the big pohutukawa tree. Luckily for Todd, Garth doesn’t subscribe to the general consensus. He put together plans that would take the house to the very edge of the law while still staying true to Todd’s desire for a weatherboard house with a tin roof. Because Todd had had trouble with pine weatherboards in the past, and with the new house being so close to the sea, he opted for the durability of fibre cement and used James Hardie Linea Weatherboards. Todd also wanted to take a fresh approach to colour and break away from the rest of the street, which uses a predominantly grey, white and beige colour palette. He wanted something punchy, like an orange door juxtaposed against dark colours, and Linea Weatherboard was the only product that would allow him to use dark colours without the danger of warping from heat absorption.

Garth Kennedy’s design utilised Linea Weatherboard to great effect and James Hardie’s Installer Development Manager ensured that the building’s box corners and flashings were all in line with technical best practice. Garth had come up with a design that flirted with the drip line and root zone of the pohutukawa and required three resource consents. To get consent, they had to employ an arborist to keep an eye on the project and prepare a report every four weeks during the build. They also had to undertake to install an automatic watering system for the tree.

Garth’s design, which resulted in a house of some 285 sqm with four bedrooms and four-car garaging, also flirted with height-to-boundary ratios at five different points. His design was inch perfect, in fact millimeter perfect, coming within 50mm at every point and within 15mm at one of them. The design was so close that it had to be triple checked by a surveyor before Todd could go ahead and start building a home for his wife and child.

After what was a fairly daunting start, the actual building process went off without a hitch, not surprising given Todd’s expertise and experience. If he wasn’t before, he is certainly now a convert to building with Linea Weatherboard. He remarks that even now, two years on from his own build, the job he is currently working on has just had to send a load of pine back due to it being faulty. He contrasts that with the peace of mind Linea Weatherboard gives him and his family, and also looks forward to the years ahead when, thanks to low-maintenance Linea Weatherboard, repainting the house will be one more chore he can cross off the weekend to-do list for the next 15 years.

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