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An Orkney Renovation Story

Updated: May 4, 2023


Wellington Builders | Design & Architecture Services | Environmentally Conscious Design | Construction | Wellington Roofing & Waterproofing | Wellington Painters


To us, autumn signifies change. The heat of summer fades, daylight saving ends and the leaves begin changing colour (unless you live in the far north or by the sea!).

“The only constant is change”, and although it can sometimes be difficult to embrace, we know that when we do, new possibilities and a different way of doing and seeing things are just around the corner.

For Wellington builders Orkney Group, this saying rings very true. Our work is all about change! We love being able to transform our clients’ homes by reinventing kitchens, adding extensions, re-roofing and installing decks (and much, much more!). Whatever their end goals, bringing change that enhances our client’s lifestyles is so rewarding for our team.

We first met John and Ali at the end of 2019. Their vision was to convert the small unused space under the house into a self-contained unit. It was a small space with a dirt floor, a couple of windows and a door, and filled with decades of cobwebs and dead flies. The area was used only to store firewood and outdoor tools – one would have to have a great vision to picture this being a habitable space!

When John and Ali discovered that the foundations of their home were sitting on top of the dirt and urgently needed strengthening before it gave way down the bank, this led them to ponder how they could better utilise the space. Designs were drawn up to create a completely self-contained unit, and that's when we came into the picture.

Unfortunately, everything came to a grinding halt when New Zealand went into lockdown at the end of March 2020. Everything was put on hold until August when John and Ali felt the timing was right to pick up where things had been left off.

The contract was signed in September 2020 and excavations began soon after, with about 80% of the basement being cleared out! The upper floor needed to be supported by acrow props and temporary beams as John, Ali and their family were still living there for the duration of the project.

As excavations progressed, some rotten timber piles were discovered. Replacing them meant added pressure on the budget, but it was something that just had to be done.

Next, new drains, block walls and concrete floors were laid. What had been just a dark, small area was now beginning to look like a habitable space! John and Ali were pleased to see the vision unfold before their very own eyes.

At the beginning of 2021, 6 steel beams and posts were permanently installed to complete the structure of the house above.

John and Ali had originally planned to complete the renovation in two stages, with the second done later. However, as stage one was underway, they decided to proceed with stage two at the same time. This included relocating the front door of the upstairs house and steps leading up to it, adding a deck for the landing, and installing internal stairs to connect the house to the new downstairs unit. It also made sense to landscape the outside area of the new space to make for outdoor living (this was undertaken by a landscaping company).

Work was finally completed at the end of September 2021 and John and Ali are thrilled to have a brand-new extension to their home where family and friends can come and stay. As it turns out, John has discovered that it also makes for a very cosy and sunny home office space!

“We feel very fortunate that we chose Orkney for our build among the very impressive companies looked at. You and your team, most especially Andrew, have been unfailingly professional, highly skilled and personable to deal with - this must be a source of great pride, in pretty difficult times.” - John & Ali

Thanks, John, and Ali, for the privilege of renovating your home! We wish you many wonderful new memories in the years to come.

If you would like to explore the potential benefits that a renovation could bring to your home, give Wellington builders Orkney Group a call on 0800 368 470.

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