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Here’s why this Dunedin couple’s 12th new-build will be their last

Their Christmas tree is adorned with homemade gifts and the home filled with art and sculpture. After 11 homes, this new-build will (hopefully) be their last

Dunedin new-build

Meet + Greet

Doug McConaughy, 47 (structural engineer), Shelley McConaughy, 44 (artist and company director), Oscar, 15, and Eli, 13, plus Rose the cat and six chickens (aka The Girls).

Here’s why this Dunedin couple’s 12th new-build will be their last

What would you never do again?

Buy a garage door without checking its suitability. We live in a high wind zone and that is a factor we didn’t fully consider in this instance.

Best lesson learned?

Get several quotes and look carefully at the products or service each supplier is offering.

Best memory in your home?

When the kids first arrived and just really loved having the space to run wild. Oscar cooked food over an open fire in the front yard (before there was a lawn), and Eli dug huge holes and played in the mud.

Dunedin new-build


Total build cost?

Approx $500K (excluding land, earthworks and landscaping)
Kitchen joinery $12K
Kitchen appliances $7K
Home office $20K
Landscaping ongoing; $3K so far
Large shed $8K

Where have you saved money?

Using macrocarpa cladding instead of cedar; laying the cork flooring ourselves, and paying labour only to the builder (we directly paid all the subcontractors and for all materials). We didn’t pay for a draughtsperson or architect and have also planned and executed all the landscaping.


The flooring – it’s a costly floating cork product. Also, we used blocks for the retaining wall running parallel along the length of the house, as opposed to timber.

What was your best buy and why?

The kitchen; I designed it myself and found a great joiner at a great price.

Style tips

Buy original art. If you are near an art school, go to their shows and buy the students’ work.

Beg, borrow, steal, love other people’s style ideas and make them your own.

Keep in mind what you’d like to be the feature of the space – a lightshade, artwork, the curtains etc – so you can ensure it isn’t eclipsed.

Dunedin new-build

Favourite artists

Scott Eady – sculpture

Madeleine Child and Philip Jarvis – ceramics

Amanda Shanley – ceramics

Philip James Frost – mixed-media paintings

Kiri Mitchell – sculpture and print

John Shewry – sculpture



Builder Paul Kirby Builders
Joiner Mike Cochrane, Bellford Building & Joinery, Balclutha, 03 418 2986.
Electrician Daryl, Trainor Electrical, Port Chalmers, 027 4342 744.
Plumber JG Smaill, smaillplumbing.co.nz.

Interview by: Annick Larkin. Photography by: Emma MacDonald. Styling by: Alexandra Weston.

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