Riverhead, a growth region at the head of the Waitemata Harbour known for its vineyards and water access, is a natural home location for Grant and Pam Brown. The outdoorsy pair have chosen to move away from the nearby Auckland suburb Greenhithe to be closer to family members and take up a more relaxed lifestyle that often includes entertaining friends. Their children and grandchildren are now within minutes of the Brown’s new home.
Earlier in his career Grant was a builder and has worked in the wider property sector for nearly 40 years. After building five family homes he wanted to step back somewhat from the Riverhead project and let someone else do the hard yards involved in house construction. Pam, a hairdresser, has an eye for colour and detail that came in useful during the decorative phase of the new build on a 770 square metre section.
Through his job as a property manager, and his previous work in the industry, Grant recognised Generation Homes as a quality builder. He had heard good things about the company and seen a few of its completed designs.
“They’re such an organised company. They give you a really nice programme that you follow and they stuck to it.”
Generation Homes sat down with Grant and Pam to ask them a few questions about their decision to build and the changes to their lifestyle.
What drew you to want to build a home?
Walking into the showhome provided the inspiration. On the way out, Peter Suckling (Auckland North Managing Director for Generation Homes), said ‘what did you think of it?’ and I said where do we sign? He laughed and said ‘we can arrange that’ and I came straight back and said so let’s arrange it.
You chose Generation Homes having been a builder for many years then moving into property management for schools. How did the partnership develop?
Peter allowed me to play around with the plans so I took their standard four-bedroom house as a starting point and turned it into a three bedroom house. That meant all the rooms were bigger, I made the hallways bigger.
Describe your experiences in dealing with the staff and build process at Generation Homes?
The staff were wonderful, they were really good to work with. I did take a lot of ideas from their showhome and changed it up a bit. We’ve recommended Generation Homes a number of times and sent my friends around there. One of them is just about to sign with them actually.
Did they take a personal approach in providing you with the build process you wanted?
They’re such an organised company. They give you a really nice programme that you follow and they stuck to it. I was really impressed with that. Being a former builder I let them do it. I kept my nose out of it. I’ve built around 200 houses myself so I knew what can go wrong. The secret is having a good project manager and Generation Homes had a really good project manager.
What features and design elements have you incorporated into your Riverhead property?
I love my butler’s pantry, that’s the best bit. I walk in and we have the toaster and the food blender plugged in, I can just use them in there. I’ve made room for two ovens, rather than the one big one. Starting from the hallway we cut two window slots in the entry of either side of the door to make it feel not so small, and create a bit of interest. In the dining area we lifted the ceilings up another eight inches and put in LED lights. That makes it look fantastic. It’s a real entertainer’s home with an open plan kitchen and centre bench.
How do those design changes impact your lifestyle at your house?
Downsizing from the five-level Greenhithe property to a single level home with indoor/outdoor flow was one of the main advantages of the new home. We wanted an easy-care section and a lockup and leave option. It’s nice to be able to plan your garden and things, but on the other hand you’re starting from the beginning again. That’s quite a challenge and exciting in its own way.
Tell us about ease of living on the property and planned getaways?
The last child left home in the old house and took her dog, her baby and boyfriend with her, and there were Grant and I left so we decided it was time to downsize and keep exploring. Grant is a life member of the Malt Greenhithe fishing club and a committee member of the Stillwater Boating Club. he owns a Fi Glasswarrior HT, which we keep at Stillwater so yes being in a semi-rural setting, close to the water is important to us.
Tell us about the colour and decoration choices you have made and how the outdoors and garden fit into your living plans?
I did some of the interior design work while Grant was away on a fishing trip. I said to him I’ll do it but don’t complain about anything. I worked with Jo, Generation Homes’ colour consultant, and we got through it in an afternoon. I knew in my head the colours we wanted inside given we knew what we’d chosen for the outside.
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