Alex Hart

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Have you ever fallen in love with a house instantly? I certainly did with my last house and, it seems, with our new house. We didn’t set out to move 3 hours away from all of our friends and our business to take on a major renovation project but when we saw this grand old lady in the bright summer morning sunshine all the sensible bits of our brains went into hiding! We ignored the sloping floors and ancient electrics, not to mention the leaky water pipes snaking all over the garden but marvelled at the kauri walls, French windows and gleaming polished wood floors. We quickly swept away all the practical issues such as the commute for work, where to live while the work is being done and just went for it!

The grand 'old lady'

The grand ‘old lady’


The stars didn’t just align to make the purchase happen – they collided with a bump! From our house sale taking place in a few days between Christmas and New Year to the for sale sign for the Villa ‘mysteriously disappearing’.

So here I am, a few months later, in the beautiful Hokianga juggling university, remote working and a renovation project.

If there is any piece of advice I could give to anyone undertaking a huge project on a historic house (apart from WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!!!!!) it would be:
a) have a realistic budget b) get the right people to help and c) things will always go wrong and when they do – they can be expensive to put right!

So far we have managed to cut our neighbours phone line, ‘broken’ a digger on a water tank that was somewhere the plans said it wasn’t as well as discovered a whole host of other little horrors.

The back of the house after the builder started to demolish all the rotten bits

The back of the house after the builder started to demolish all the rotten bits


While our builder is having sleepless nights, I however am trying not to think about our finances and instead am dreaming of chandeliers and paintwork – its going to be an interesting ride!