This Auckland family have brought resort style living to their city home

Not many people in central Auckland can float blissfully in their backyard pool with a herd of cows grazing calmly in a lush green field next door nearby, but that’s the scene at this Mt Albert home


This family have brought a holiday vibe to their own home

Suzanne McNamara and Ian Grant’s family is lucky enough to enjoy a holiday scene every summer. They recently built a swimming pool in the north-facing back garden of their Mt Albert home, which is bordered by a small farm leased by Mount Albert Grammar School to run agricultural courses for its pupils. Cows are frequent observers during their afternoon pool parties.

Suzanne says family enjoyment was top of their priorities when debating the decision to build a pool. “We considered buying a beach house but our son Connor, plays so much sport, we would never get there in the weekends. So we wanted to give our house more of a holiday feel.”

The couple bought their house 16 years ago in a very run-down state: old rusted guttering, faded wallpaper, and an overgrown garden. “But it had an amazing view, all-day sun and six bedrooms,” recalls Suzanne.

We had three kids of quite different ages so four bedrooms was a pre-requisite for us

The next project was to build a deck at the front of the property, just off the kitchen, on the southern side of the house. “We cook here all summer and it’s very relaxing sitting around the table watching the birds wash themselves in the birdbath. I’ve resisted the family pressure to get a cat because I love the birds so much.”

At the recommendation of a friend they contacted landscape company Greenscene NZ to come up with a design for their pool area. Rapport with their landscape designer Mike Jack was excellent and he came up with a scheme that involved aligning the fibre glass-lined pool close to the boundary to give it an infinity look and also provide more room around the sides for sunbathing and relaxing. “It’s a 1.2-metre drop to the farm next door so we didn’t need a pool fence,” says Suzanne. “We did need a glass balustrade at either end though, so people couldn’t fall off the edge into the farm.”

Pool-designing tips

  • Be design led. It’s an important foundation step in the construction process. A good designer will be able to reconcile their design against cost so there are no surprises.
  • Work with a landscape design/build company. “Working with Greenscene NZ was the best way for us to complete our project because we were able to get the design we wanted but understand the costs at the same time,” says Suzanne.
  • Expect that with every large project there will be hiccups. It’s how you react to them that makes the difference. “I’ve found practicing good old-fashioned manners when things go wrong goes a long way.”
  • Insist on a really good level of communication with your team and ensure everyone is clear about what the end objective is.
  • Work with people that you can trust. The process has to be transparent from the beginning. “With the first design/build company (prior to Greenscene), I knew we were going to end up with variations outside the original quote,” says Suzanne.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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