Over the weekend our house won a Gold in the House Of The Year awards. Pretty stoked to be honest! But all the credit goes to our Master Builders Haven Renovations – as without their skill, craftsmanship and attention to detail it would have never been such a high quality home. And to top off an amazing night, Haven also won the supreme award for Auckland Renovation Of The Year for the home they transformed in Birkenhead Point.
We’ve got a pretty big plot of land, almost 1,400 square metres of paradise, and we absolutely love it. The outlook is so peaceful and private, plus I’m really enjoying the development of my green thumb, fingers and toes.
Every weekend you’ll find me pottering away in the garden and tending to the lawns. Planting, weeding, pruning, mowing and establishing. It’s a bit of a never-ending job but I find it really relaxing and rewarding, particularly as the plants begin to establish themselves and the vision I have for the garden is slowly materialising.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a garden to maintain, the last time being about 10 years ago when I was based at home in Southland. I tell you what, the growth we get in Auckland is crazy compared to down south. I’ve been blown away with how fast the plants have been growing – not to mention the weeds too!
As April kicked into gear, so too has the growth. It feels like I mow the lawns and by the time I turn around they need cutting again! We seeded the grass in July and I have been using a Flymo ever since as I wanted to be light on the ground while the lawn established itself. However, it doesn’t have a catcher and I spend a lot of time raking up the clippings.
The lawn is now pretty mature so I’ve been meaning to buy a new mower with a catcher for quite a while, along with a weed eater to keep the edges nicely manicured. But I wasn’t too keen to shell out a lot of money. We were in the Milford Mall over the weekend getting our groceries and I decided to pop into The Warehouse on the off chance they might have something.
I was genuinely surprised at the range of gardening gear they had in stock as well as the brands they sell, including Ryobi. And I couldn’t believe the prices. I picked up a mower, weed eater, water blaster, fork, hose and reel for a total price of $540. What a bargain!
Yeah I know what you’re thinking; it’ll all wear out after only a few goes. But everything feels really solid and they are made by some quality companies including Ryobi and Westminster.
I guess the proof will be in the pudding, so I’ll post about how I get on after giving the lawns and garden a good going-over on the weekend. However, now I know the range of gardening products on offer at The Warehouse, I’ll definitely be popping back more often to pick up some more bargains to keep that garden growth in check. #bargainfeeling #thewarehousenz #ourdreamhome
Wow, it’s crazy to think that we’ve been living in our house for 8 months now. We absolutely love it.
It’s incredibly satisfying building a house that you’ve designed in your head, then watching it being built and to now be living in it. You spend so much time obsessing over every little detail and considering every aspect. And now to be using those features and seeing everything working the way we intended is a real buzz. The sun comes into the house in the way we hoped. We live in the house the way we thought we would and the independent pods make the home feel so much larger than its 170sqm footprint. And that roof deck. Oh yeah. So good!
To be honest it’s also been a huge relief as well. I was a bit anxious moving in, crossing my fingers that we hadn’t made any terrible mistakes. I mean we aren’t architects and we’d never designed a home before, but now we’ve lived in the house through a winter and most of a summer, there isn’t one thing that we would change. It really does feel like we live in our own little retreat – it’s so private and the birdsong is incredibly relaxing, not to mention the trickling stream. It’s like being on holiday at home which is awesome and lucky – with the mortgage we have we can’t venture too far away anyway! We’ve also been very lucky because a new bridge has been built over the Milford Marina, so we are now less than 5 minutes walking distance to the beach which gives us the best of both worlds – bush and beach.
I’ve been embracing my inner green-thumb and spend most of my spare time pottering in the garden or obsessing over the lawns! I’m loving learning about the native plants that will and won’t grow on our section – which ones prefer sun, shade or part shade. And the ones that like it wet or like it dry. It’s pretty cool watching the plants maturing, the lawn growing and the house settling into its surroundings so nicely.
I’m slowly chipping away at taming more and more of the bush area – ridding it of the ginger and other weeds, and replacing it with natives (the birds are doing a great job helping me too). I’ve got plans to make wee paths through the bush and Kylie would love a spa under the trees one day too!
You’ll probably note how the cladding has weathered over the 8 months as well. We really like it, but I will be applying another coat of oil before next summer to ensure the timber is adequately protected and the colour holds at about the same tone it is now. From then on, it should only be a coat every five years.
The lawn running along the stream, in front of the bedroom pod has come on in leaps and bounds. We decided to hydro-seed it and the seed was quite dormant until things warmed up a little and pow, she hasn’t looked back. Thick, luscious locks without a weed in sight.
We worked with the Shane and his team at Dingo Groundworx – they were awesome. Very knowledgeable and easy to deal with. They came in and scraped out the crappy muck that was on the ground, and set the levels. Then spread about 100mm of top soil, with another 100mm of lawn mix on top, before spraying on the seed.
Now the grass is about 60mm long I need to give the lawn its first cut. It’s still pretty soft underfoot though with all that new soil and the amount of rain that we keep getting. So I bought a Flymo mower off Trade Me and plan to walk around the lawn edges, while the Flymo floats over the top – stopping any foot or wheel marks ruining the lawn.
Then hopefully, once the rain stops and a crust forms, she’ll get nice and solid over summer. Plus the root system will bind everything together.
Have also just seeded out behind the living pod, so looking forward to seeing that sprout soon too.
Our Econnecx home automation has made living in our new house really easy and convenient.
We’ve set up a bunch of automated schedules for some of the key functions in the house. Our exterior and security lights turn on and off at varying times of the day that we’ve decided works with when we are coming and going. This is an awesome feature, especially arriving home to a well lit home at night. Functional and beautiful!
Our under floor heating and towel rails are also on schedules, which are quite different between the weekend and during the weekday. Which makes sense, we’re home more during the weekends so it’s nice to have the underfloor heating going, but while we are at work there is no need. Since we’ve had these schedules in place we’ve definitely noticed a reduction in power.
One of the coolest and most convenient features is being able to open and close the front door remotely, and turn the alarm on and off. Last week I was in Christchurch and Kylie was away as well, but wasn’t sure if she had set the alarm. I was able to check in on my phone and set the alarm from the econnecx app. Genius. There have also been numerous times that I’ve let tradies into the house without the hassle of having to wait around for them, or leaving a key out. You can even give them access that is time specific, so they can come and go based on the time of day, but outside of those hours they don’t have access.
We’re still waiting to connect up our central heating which will be really good. Plus add a couple of internal lights as well.
Home automation is one of those things you don’t think you really need until you have it. It hadn’t entered my mind during our planning stages as I assumed it would be really expensive, but econnecx is really reasonable – about $3k to set up and install, even into an existing home. Then $92 a year covers all the software upgrades and any support you may need during the year.
It’s super easy to set up too. Your electrician does all the work, then you can just play around creating schedules until you find ones that suit how you live.