The pandemic years pivoted many people to an alternate path but for Janelle and Glenn, it meant selling their house (twice) and becoming first-time builders.
The couple, who marketed their Mt Albert villa just before Covid arrived, found the deal they struck with the buyer was delayed for a year so, 12 months later, they had to renegotiate and sell it again.
On socially distanced walks around Ōwairaka maunga during lockdown, they spotted some side-of-the-hill sections for sale and saw a new route. “We had been buying old houses and doing them up for years but wanted something different,” explains Janelle. The sites were steep, and it felt a little crazy, but the views from the volcano were hard to beat.
Before they signed up, they called Box™ in for some advice. “Glenn had seen work the company had done years ago and always had Box™ in the back of his mind,” explains Janelle. Founder Dan Heyworth met the pair and recommended which one of the two sections on offer to buy – the steeper one with the outlook towards the city. On the plus side, much of the earthworks, including an impressive stone retaining wall had already been completed on the 700-square-metre north-facing land.
The brief to design lead Joshua Bacon was uncomplicated: the couple who have four children (with two still living at home) wanted the view to be ever present, free-flow open spaces – and a pool.
They said their piece and then put their trust in the team. “We just left it in their hands,” says Janelle. “Box™ matched everything we had asked for but also saw things that were never within our realms of thinking.”
After some council delays with consent, construction was sure and speedy (just 10 months from the first spade in the ground). “We had great builders. I couldn’t fault them. They kept us in the loop and their skills were amazing.”
Still, no project is without some challenges. Covid had an impact on the price of products. “We had to change or remove some features because of the cost,” explains Janelle. That included heating under the concrete floor in the dining/kitchen area and some inbuilt cabinetry.
These may have been compromises but the living is still incredibly easy. The owners are thrilled with the three-storey home where the entry is at ground level, the living in the middle and a main bedroom suite up top.
Clad in black Weathertex, the exterior is sharp and dark, while inside the inverse is true. It’s all white and light: “I love the big windows. I haven’t ever lived in a house where you feel like you are outside even with the doors shut.”
Glenn particularly likes that Box™ has made every space useable: No unnecessary corridors or connectors – just a whole lot of living packed into the 217-square metres.
Apart from four bedrooms, there’s a flexi room which transforms between an office, a fifth bedroom “in case everyone bounces back home at the same time” or a hang-out space for teens or adults, depending on whose need is greatest.
The kitchen, laundry and bathrooms feature graduated green tiles to bring some gentle colour into the interior palette and Janelle is in her happy space when family members gather around the island to chat, help cook or do homework. “Glenn and I both come from large families, so we quite often have lots of people over and it’s such an easy space to entertain.”
The children, who range in age from 22 to 14, and are clearly hardy types, have used the unheated pool every week since handover in June 2023. And although Janelle is more reticent (“I think I’ve been in twice”) she can simply sit on the covered deck and take it all in. With an outlook that sweeps across to the city, Rangitoto and, on a clear day from the main bedroom, stretches as far as Little Barrier, what’s not to love? “The whole thing is my favourite,” answer Janelle when prompted. “I feel like I am waking up in a holiday house every day.”