Allan Austen, managing director of Ascension Homes Ltd, has had a long career in construction — he started building houses with his father at the age of 12.
Now 37 years later, Mr Austen is proud to be running an award-winning design and build company, producing high quality houses in and around Whitianga.
After achieving excellent results at local level, Ascension Homes Ltd set itself apart from the rest, winning the New Homes $450,000 – $600,000 category in the Registered Master Builders PlaceMakers 2011 House of the Year.
The stunning holiday home on Coromandel Peninsula’s Matarangi Beach took seven months to build, and is the company’s first National Award in the competition.
Mr Austen says a home has to be unique, and have flair and complexity in its design in order to succeed at national level — attributes which judges say the Matarangi holiday home encompasses.
“It has to have a certain presence about it. It’s got to be really comfortable, but it’s also got to have the wow factor,” Mr Austen says.
The house, built just 200 metres from the beach, impressed judges who said it has the casual elegance of an ocean-front holiday house, and gives the intended illusion of a series of boatsheds.
“Inviting family areas with great indoor and outdoor flow ensure this new home is ideal for holiday living. The builder’s detail even extended to the custom design and manufacture of the shutter doors,” they said.
The bedrooms’ louvre exterior doors behind ranch sliders, which lead to individual boatshed-styled ramps or decks, were a challenge to the build, Mr Austen says.
“Having only six inches of gap between the louvre and the ranch slider, we had to design the way the louvre doors would close and lock,” he says.
“The louvres are open for ventilation, so at night you can have the ranch sliders open, but the louvre doors locked to allow the summer breeze in while protecting your privacy and security.”
Judges said it was a difficult home to construct, with complex roof forms that are a special feature of the home.
“It has a beautifully finished cathedral ceiling with tongue and groove exposed rafters, and it is a credit to the builder that it has been finished to a very high standard with all of the build on show.
“The interiors are complementary, with stunning bathrooms comprising a pebble finish which emulates a stony beach and brings the ocean inside,” judges said.
As a member of Registered Master Builders, Mr Austen says that not only is the ability to enter House of the Year a benefit, but also the knowledge and support he receives from the organisation and its members.
“There is a lot of camaraderie within the organisation. I became a Registered Master Builder because I can learn a lot from other members. I can get help to overcome a problem, or guidance on something I haven’t done before,” he says.
“The RMBF and its members are a great support network, and it’s good to belong to an organisation that proves its members are producing high quality work.”
The team at Ascension Homes is looking forward to the 2012 House of the Year competition, entering a Whitianga home in the New Homes $600,000 – $1million category for the Auckland region.
“This is a unique home on the canals of Whitianga. Built on a tight section, it is north-facing, has open plan living with four bedrooms, an attached office and three bathrooms,” Mr Austen says.
He continues to take part in the competition to show that his company has the ability to be at the top, producing high quality houses.
“I am driven by the prospect of having houses that are recognised. We pride ourselves in quality,” he says.
Judging for the Registered Master Builders PlaceMakers 2012 House of the Year is currently underway.
The Awards are made possible through the support of PlaceMakers, James Hardie, Gib Living Solutions®, Nulook, Department of Building and Housing, Future-Proof Building and Master Build Services Ltd.
For more information about the competition, visit the Registered Master Builders web site at www.masterbuilder.org.nz.