Join us as we follow Oliver and Ella’s home build over a six-month journey – from dream to reality
It’s the great Kiwi dream – build a home of your own, designed especially for you, to suit your taste and your lifestyle.
In this ambitious first-of-its-kind feature, we follow the story of a real-life home build from dream to reality. Along the way we’ll be documenting the project in a series of articles, backed up by stories and videos.
If you’ve ever harboured a secret desire to build your own place, this landmark home project will inspire you to follow your dreams. Knowing where to start is the hardest part, so with support from industry experts including Resene, Carpet Court and Haier, we’ll guide you every step of the way, from those early days of putting your vision down on paper, until that fabulous feeling when you finally move in.
It’s the image of unpacking their moving boxes into a brand new walk-in wardrobe that’s been keeping Auckland couple Oliver Driver and Ella Mizrahi focused over the months it’s taken to bring their home project almost to the start line. The couple bought a section in the Auckland suburb of Te Atatu Peninsula more than three years ago. It was at the height of the housing boom and they were living in a rented Mt Albert home with their young family while they looked for a place to buy.
“We wanted to live somewhere that felt like it had a real community,” says Oliver. “We really liked Te Atatu Peninsula because a lot of our friends lived there and it was a very family- oriented place, but it was in the middle of the housing crisis and everywhere we looked at, a developer would buy it before we could, paying more than it was worth because they were planning to chop it in half. Houses were going for crazy amounts of money.”
Just as they were beginning to feel despondent, a friend suggested they buy the section she was subdividing off the back of her Te Atatu Peninsula property. “It’s a tiny piece of land but it’s on a reserve by the creek and there’s a walkway that goes all the way around it so it’s got a really nice feel,” says Oliver. “We fell in love with it.” They decided to take a leap of faith and buy the land.
Their brother-in-law, architect David Ponting, offered to design them a house as a wedding gift, and so began the long and sometimes frustrating process of refining the design to create something that fitted their budget and complied with Auckland Council regulations.
“This is our first-ever build. We’ve never done anything like it before,” says Oliver. “We foolishly thought – and it is foolish – that building would be cheaper,” he laughs. “We now know it’s not. We should have watched Grand Designs more often and believed it!”
Having tweaked the plans countless times to comply with height to boundary regulations and other Council requirements, and forked out tens of thousands of dollars for fees, inspections and utilities connections, the couple finally had a set of plans they were 100 percent happy with.
It’s been really cool that we’ve beenable to design how it will look
“We started out with some really grand ideas,” says Oliver. “Then we found out how expensive they were, so it has become quite a simple house but we’re still very excited about the process of building our own home. It’s been really cool that we’ve been able to design how it will look.
“My best piece of advice would be to ensure you understand the entire amount the project will ultimately cost,” says Oliver. “The biggest ongoing shock for us has been the many costs that come at you that you did not factor in.
The couples’ next step was to find a builder, which they did via a tender process, eventually choosing a small local company, JR Hosking Carpenters & Co. “James is a really talented young guy,” says Oliver. “We get on with him really well.”
With a contract signed, the section cleared of scrubby trees and earthworks about to begin, the couple can’t quite believe the project is finally under way. “We’re super excited about it,” says Oliver.