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Albizia Grove – Timber from top to toe

(As featured in Revere Magazine, 2020)
Anne has always loved cedar homes. Her mother having originally hailed from Switzerland, she has fond memories of growing up surrounded by warm, wooden chalets. So when the time came to downsize to a brand new build, timber naturally topped Anne’s wish-list.

For local builder Mike Craig that meant carefully choosing the right people to bring Anne’s Swiss-chalet warm wood vision to life. “I picked a crew I knew would be good with timber work and architectural design,” he says. “Then we were away laughing.”

Before the team could begin, the park-lined Waikanae site needed some major foundation work. The section sat on a bed of river silt, which meant digging piles as deep as 3.6m. “It was quite a job, and it was important we started off on the right foot,” says Mike. The initial hard yards paid off, laying the groundwork for a smooth and stress-free build.

The corner-hugging architectural window is one of Mike’s favourite elements. Made of charcoal aluminium zinc, the window’s exaggerated 600mm overhang is a striking feature, giving the exterior added depth. The cedar-clad exterior is a feature in its own right. “The comments we get about the timber work on the outside are amazing,” says Anne. “Everyone says it’s the most stunning part
of the house.”

As for the interior, Anne’s love for timber hasn’t been left out in the cold. From the birch ceiling to the timber flooring, wooden touches are artfully scattered throughout. The concrete bench spanning an entire wall of the living room – Mike’s handiwork – is also a real hit.
“It fits in with the design of the house so well,” Anne says. “I think Mike was quite proud of it!” Thick, well-insulated walls add to the natural warmth of the home and help make it semi-passive – meaning lower overall energy use and lower power bills.

Architect Peter Davis thoughtfully designed the home to capture all-day sun. It seamlessly flows from the indoors out, ticking another box for outdoors-loving Anne. And on the spacious deck, the custom-made timber planter boxes are a low-maintenance way to keep Anne’s green thumbs busy.

During the build, Anne was a regular – and welcome – visitor to the site. “She was incredibly organised, which made our lives easy,” says Mike. “We had a great working relationship.” The admiration is mutual. Anne says Mike’s collaborative and flexible approach made building her chalet-inspired home a joy. “Before my husband passed away, he always said, ‘building a house is way too stressful.’
I decided to give it a go anyway, and I haven’t regretted it for one moment.”