Monolithic Masterpiece

From devastation to triumph, this couple has ‘come home’ to an exceptional creation by DJ Hewitt Builders.

When the Millers secured a long sought-after luxury hillside home in McCormacks Bay, the couple had every intention of remaining there well into their ‘twilight years’. However, Mother Nature had other plans.

The quake of 2011 left their new home in ruins, and, like thousands of other displaced Christchurch residents, they found themselves living in rental accommodation in the years that followed. However, when it came time to make a decision on where to finally lay their roots, the couple felt there was no better place than McCormacks Bay to call home.

‘We consider ourselves very fortunate’, says Mary. Although it has taken a long six years to finally ‘come home’, they both agree it was well worth the wait.

With the benefit of knowing the site inside out, they embraced the exciting opportunity that rebuilding offered. Having enlisted an architect and the building expertise of DJ Hewitt Builders, the Millers were set to tackle the project of a lifetime.

Already familiar with Daryl Hewitt’s work around town, and his reputation for building on hilly sites such as theirs, the couple felt confident in his abilities to realise their vision.

Daryl’s willingness to include Mary and Russell every step of the way with daily onsite meetings, and his readiness to ‘effortlessly adapt’ in response to Russell’s changing ideas, made for a ‘thoroughly satisfying and transparent process’, the couple says. ‘We were very firm in our ideas of what we wanted and how it would work’, shares Mary.

With stunning views across the city and to the Southern Alps beyond, it was vital the new design included a sheltered deck from which to enjoy the ever-changing vistas throughout the year.

Other must-have features included a double-height void to allow natural light to pour in, a spacious and functional kitchen with a view, and a state-of-the-art wine cellar and tasting room to cater for Russell’s passion for fine wines.

Project managing the build from inception to completion, Daryl guided his clients through the entire design, build and budgeting process. Always on site to oversee the work of his highly qualified team of builders and to keep his loyal crew of subcontractors on track, Daryl is very much a ‘hands on’ owner-operator.

Daryl refers to his ‘subbies’ as ‘family’. Many have been with him for 15 of the 22 years he’s been in business, and they all share Daryl’s passion for quality workmanship. Together with Daryl’s wife, Tara, who offers guidance on interior solutions, their company offers a comprehensive package.

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Laying the groundwork was the team at Trevor Stevens Excavations. Trevor says excavations of this nature are their specialty. Thanks to his experienced team, operating a fleet of fully equipped excavators, dislodging hard rock such as this makes for ‘very satisfying work’.

Allowing the architectural design to shine through, Powell Fenwick was responsible for creating cost-effective engineering systems, which included designing the foundations, retaining walls and various beams and bracing elements – based on ‘careful and meticulous analysis’.

Encountering rock at varying depths is a challenge which plagues many hill sites; but, by working in close collaboration with DJ Hewitt’s team, they found a practical solution to ‘support the dwelling entirely on the rock itself – a vital component of the dwelling’s structural design’.

Creating instant curb appeal, the majestic three-story home features a winning combination of cedar, black steel, schist stonework and crisp white plaster cladding. Favoured among builders as a high performance, low maintenance exterior cladding solution, Rockcote Integra from Resene Construction Systems provides a weather-tight envelope.

This lightweight and durable system also offers thermal and acoustic benefits that keep the home warm and quiet. To guarantee optimal performance with an immaculate hand-applied finish, this premium concrete plaster facade can only be applied by Resene’s network of licensed professionals and registered building practitioners.

Upon entering the main foyer through a full-height glass door, an impressive steel and glass staircase is a structural engineering feat. One of Daryl’s favourite aspects of the build, he says his involvement in brainstorming sessions with designers and key contractors in order to find solutions to challenges such as this is always rewarding.

Specialising in the manufacture of unique structural frameless glass systems for architecturally designed homes, Glassforce devised the spider fittings that enabled the suspension of the glass balustrade – which, as Glassforce Director David Clephane says, achieves a truly striking result.

The industrial style staircase is complemented by the warmth of a pure oak matt, engineered timber flooring that continues through to the wine cellar off the main foyer and throughout the open-plan living areas on the first floor.

Supplied and installed by Nextdore, the adjacent garage has commercial-grade tread plate vinyl tiles, and plush Cavalier Bremworth Stylex Soft-Touch carpets have been laid in all five bedrooms, the media room, office and third-floor gallery.

Taking the stairs or the seven-person lift to the first floor brings one to the hub of the home. A bright and spacious open-plan kitchen, dining and living area spills out onto the generous deck that delivers the spectacular views that won the hearts of Russell and Mary from the first.

SPS Building and Roofing supplied Innowood for the decking – an innovative, sustainable timber alternative that offers the look and feel of natural timber without the challenges it presents like warping and cracking. Durable and low-maintenance, the embossed surface offers a safe, slip-resistant finish, and comes in a range of colours to suit every building project.

Modern homes are often characterised by vast expanses of glazing, and this home is no exception. With a wide variety of hardware and colour options to suit any style of architecture, all aluminium joinery was manufactured and installed by Hagley Windows & Doors. A high performance double glazing with clear laminate glass, the Vantage Metro Series gives a ‘strong, clean contemporary finish’, says owner Geoff Ball.

Adding to the home’s minimalist aesthetic, custom-built cabinetry in the media room and living areas, all four bathrooms, the master walk-in wardrobe, as well as the wine cellar, laundry, kitchen, and scullery was crafted by Advanced Joinery.

In keeping with the specified clean, contemporary look in the high-end monochromatic kitchen and scullery, all appliances have been either integrated into the cabinetry or concealed behind an outer door, and all drawers and cupboards are handleless for elegant, flush surfaces.

The horizontal picture window in the kitchen provides a pop of lush foliage from the property’s rear outdoor living spaces, which were completed by Gunn Design. Electing to keep the existing stone walls and extend them to encapsulate the outdoor living area, custom-built corten steel planters complement the stonemasonry, while plantings take their cue from the vegetation in the adjacent reserve.

All four bathrooms feature fixtures and fittings from Oakleys Plumbing Supplies. The third floor master en-suite showcases a generously proportioned bath-for-two in stone composite, which is perfectly positioned for tranquil views across the bay. Twin basins are married with brushed stainless steel Fantini Fukasawa tapware for understated elegance.

Brymac Tiles Architectural Sales Consultant, Sheryl Borrell says she relished the collaboration she had with the clients and designer, Tara Hewitt – which resulted in a distinctive, yet cohesive look across all four bathrooms.

The master ensuite has Italian large format stone-look tiles on the walls and timber-look tiles for the floor, which are complemented by Spanish mosaic tiles in the shower and for the splashback.

Jeff Ellis of JE Tiling took great care and precision in all tiling carried out in the four bathrooms and laundry. For a flawless finish, Jeff says laying mosaics can be a ‘fiddly job’ requiring far more attention than with the large format variety; but meticulous workmanship pays off, showcasing the beautiful product and design.

Making clever use of all available space, walk-in wardrobes in both daughters’ bedrooms were designed, constructed and installed by Simply Wardrobes. Their highly versatile Cabinet System was selected for its combination of modular shelving and drawers to accommodate a variety of storage solutions. For quality construction in a classic, timeless style, Simply Wardrobes offers versatile configurations designed to suit individual needs and budgets.

The somewhat unusual, but striking black ceiling over the double height void in the living area is just one of the many ideas Tara recommended to Russell and Mary, having used this in her and Daryl’s own home to dramatic effect.

Given that dark colours show up every tiny imperfection, Paul Lally of Broomfield Quality Stoppers says it was imperative that the finish on the ceiling, in particular, was flawless. Paul goes on to explain that, since the quakes, expansion joints are now used in large plasterboard areas to allow for movement and prevent ‘cracking under pressure’. A modernist marvel, this family home pulls out all the stops – inside and out – thanks to the combined efforts of all involved.

‘Daryl and Tara make a great team’, says Mary. Their eye for detail and unwavering commitment to perfection gave us the utmost confidence that we would end up with a house we would love and enjoy for many years to come.’

  • McCormack Bay Home
  • McCormack Bay Home