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A modern take on 70s vintage

Fenton Building have completed a major and unique two-year construction project, after director Hayden Burke renovated a 40-year-old Te Puna home.

Set on spacious grounds, and graced by a sweeping tree-lined entrance with post and rail fencing, the renovation, which included the addition of a large wing, has transformed the agrestic home, giving it a contemporary, sophisticated quality.

Located in Oliver Road, the 600m2 country house from the 1970s was originally designed by New Zealand architect Harry Turbott, and had a sense of warm humanity and intimacy that is often apparent in Turbott’s work.

Constructed from brick and fibre cement, with a concrete tile roof and timber and aluminium joinery, the five-bedroom house had four living areas, two bathrooms, a 68m2 attic storage space and decking.

It also boasted polished timber floors, exposed beam ceilings and French doors opening out onto a panoramic, rural view.

The house’s lived-in feeling, however, had wearied, and owners Tracey and Jason Smith decided it was time to tastefully renovate.

“We wanted a modern take on the 70s vintage look,” says Tracey, “while keeping some of the features that give the house its uniqueness.”

“I started some internal work,” says Hayden. “While I was doing that, Tracey and Jason were having plans drawn up for the large addition. They said to me ‘if you do a good job, we’ll give you a shot at doing the addition as well’.

“I did a good job, so they gave me the addition and the full renovation downstairs, and over the two years we’ve been back to do smaller jobs like the pergolas.”

Fenton Building, named after Hayden’s grandfather Fenton Burke, has teams of two or three builders on each of their construction sites, with eight staff in total. Hayden, who grew up on a Katikati farm, has benefitted from having a carpenter for a father, adopting a practical approach from early on.

In Sixth Form he was doing building work experience one day a week, and left college to begin his building apprenticeship, becoming a Registered Master Builder. Current jobs include large renovations and additions at Mount Maunganui and Whakamarama.

“We mainly do high-end, architecturally-designed renovations,” says Hayden. “We’re lucky in that we can choose our clients.

“We build a strong relationship with the owners. As we work, we try to keep in regular contact with them, conducting site meetings and walk-throughs. Our guys know that good communication with our clients is absolutely key.

“Renovations can be quite intrusive - especially if the client is living on site. It helps to keep a very high level of respect.”

Hayden gets on the tools, but also manages the jobs and coordinates subcontractors like Dean Bartlett from Electech, Tasman Plumbing, Ready Roofing and Smith Painters.

Over the last three years, Fenton Building has completed around nine renovations, all of which have roughly taken four-to-nine months.

“They’re all extensive jobs,” says Hayden. “The Oliver Road house was our first big renovation. It was an awesome build.”

Architectural designer Mike Fergus, from Insignia Design, kept much of the original brick in his design for Jason and Tracey, with some painted or plastered. The original kauri beams were re-planed and painted, while upstairs some of the exposed rafters were replaced, with a new roof, balustrades, flooring, tiles and windows.

Hayden sourced recycled roofing tiles to match the existing ones.  

The large wing extension includes an upstairs en-suite, opening out onto a deck with spa. The north-facing pastoral view out to sea also overlooks the new swimming pool. Below, the extended kitchen and dining al fresco area is sheltered by the deck.

The front entrance features new joinery but retains the original brick pillars, now roughly rendered and plastered white on either side of the door.

The tawa flooring has also been retained, while the carpet also gives a warm, homely and relaxed feel. The double-sided fireplace, barn slide doors and mix of black-trimmed white-on-white with wood and brick not only lift the house into a contemporary era, but evoke memories of the past.

“Tracey has an amazing eye for detail,” says Hayden. Both Tracey and Jason are kitchen designers with HK Kitchens. “It’s awesome working with clients who can visualise stuff. They knew exactly what they wanted.”

“Hayden was really great when it came down to working with us,” says Tracey. “It probably wasn’t that easy dealing with us, as we’re also designers and think about all the little details.

“He understood us and came up with ideas like the staircase capping. He was also really good at interpreting the design features that we were trying to achieve.

“It was an architecturally-designed showpiece house in its day, and as we went through, we unearthed interesting features like the fireplace. It wasn’t a clean-cut renovation and required a lot of problem solving.”

“You don’t find many houses around like this,” agrees Hayden. “Every room is different.”

There were no gardens in place, so Tracey applied her design skills to the swimming pool area and surrounds.

“We reclaimed the brick from the paths and used them as feature walls, as well as walled fences around the garden and pool.”

The couple are delighted with the finished home.

“We have no intention of leaving it. We love that, for the first time ever, we have a home,” says Tracey. “We love the quirkiness of the house. It has an amazing homely feel, and so much character and soul.”