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A rundown Lockwood is turned into a colourful family home for just $30,000

This Coromandel couple pulled off an amazing overhaul of a ramshackle 1960s Lockwood house, turning it into a warm family home – for less than $30K


Who lived here?
April Hansby, stay-at-home mum, aromatherapist and skincare maker for ahsskincare.com and HempFarm, interior design graduate, Zane Hansby, builder, and Archie, 4, plus four chickens.

When did you live here?
August 2015-April 2018.

Where is the home?
Coromandel Town.


Why did you decide to purchase your home?
We had been on the hunt for our first home for a while; we were bursting to get stuck into a project and keen to get onto the property ladder. We are from Hahei but were looking all over the Coromandel Peninsula. We weren’t too fussed about finding the ‘perfect’ place or a forever home, but wanted a good opportunity to put our skills to use, and somewhere we could be happy for a few years. When we came across this three-bedroom Lockwood from 1964, it happened to be the cheapest place in Coromandel township and was waiting for the right people to give it some love. It was pretty much all we could afford but, from the first viewing, we had a good feeling about it.

What did you love about it?
The all-day sun, privacy, garden and solid bones. Plus it was a small house and we love small! A real bonus was that 95 percent of the work needing to be done was on the exterior so we could move in right away. This was very practical financially because we didn’t have to worry about paying rent while also paying our first mortgage. The interior was already painted all white and under the carpet we had a lovely wooden floor.

It was a townhouse yet we had a third of an acre and a right-of-way driveway down from the main road, so we had a rural outlook, privacy and it was pretty quiet. The garden was perfect for a baby/toddler on the move while we worked on the house and garden. There was plenty of space for a big vege garden, heaps of fruit trees, chickens, and there were some beautiful mature trees, which gave it so much character.

What did you not like about it?
The house had been tenanted for years and unloved for a long time. Every single part of the exterior was an eyesore – the driveway, fences, roof, garden, paint, entrance, shed, deck and doors. Entry to the house was via a carport with a broken roof, graffiti, punched-in doors, stained concrete, flaking paint – the works! But the minute I saw it I was already visualising what could be done.

Inside there was an awful fireplace and a brick wall that seemed to take up the whole living space. The poky deck was falling down and flaky. We did trips to the dump on a daily basis to remove all the rubbish that had been left under the deck and throughout the garden. I just wish I had taken more ‘before’ photos!

Were there any issues you needed to fix?
The structure of the house was in good shape, but it had not been maintained in the 50 years since it was built. Lockwood homes of that age had an aluminium layer over the wood so it took a lot of experimentation to get it into shape. It was incredibly labour-intensive with endless sanding and scraping, and it took us a whole year to fully finish the paint job – for a little house, it was a massive undertaking.

The renovation

What did you do to the house?
First we did the major things that needed to be addressed – pulled up the carpet, sanded and oiled floors, fixed the roof, added insulation, replaced the old fireplace and swapped the sliding doors (which didn’t actually open) for French doors. Outside, we sorted fences, pulled down the old deck and started on a new one, and ripped everything out of the little sleepout, which was in a very bad way, and made it into a small office and work room. Then the painting began on the exterior, once we finally decided on a colour.

What about the finer details?
Between all the big jobs, we just plugged away at small details such as adding some colour to the walls. We are also keen gardeners so the garden was our break from the other labour. This was a bonus because we got the garden looking great and it really set the tone for the place.

Describe the style you were going for.
We really love contemporary and Scandinavian design, but I couldn’t put a label on our style. I wanted our home to look fresh, light, homely, simple and uncluttered, and to create a small family home that we loved to be in. With furnishings, I love the character of secondhand, vintage and retro items.

My biggest love would be for natural and earthy things and handmade creations, yet I often can’t go past a good The Warehouse or Kmart buy, too, as much as I like to keep it ethical. We are lucky to have so many creative friends and family members who make things ranging from woodwork to pottery, drawing, painting and sculpting so a lot of our style isa mixture of those things.

Any major disasters during the reno process?
No disasters, just lots of learning along the way.

Tell us about the upcycling and repurposing you have done.
Lots of our furniture has been repainted to suit our house and we upcycled fun little items such as the highchair, rocking horse and frames for the photo wall, which were salvaged from recycling centres. We scored two $5 rimu doors at a garage sale and scraped, sanded and oiled them for our front door and office door. They completely changed the whole feel of the house. We also salvaged wooden pallets from friends and turned them into big storage cupboards in the carport. We did the same with some local macrocarpa for the steps and entrance area.

Zane built our garden shed for around $1000. We used nearly all recycled materials from the dump such as windows, corrugated iron and interior shelving. We used leftover materials from our house for the roof and even insulated it so someone could turn it into a sleepout or studio one day. It is so warm and light (and made the perfect ‘bar’ for our wedding!). Then there are the little things such as spoon hooks and lightshades, which were mostly salvaged. The shelving in the house isall recycled rimu.

The results 

How did the renovated house work for you?
It was pretty much perfect, apart from not having a good laundry set-up.

Is there anything you’d change if you did the reno again?
We probably could have looked at spending extra money on recladding the whole house, instead of painting, to save a lot of time. The painting was super satisfying in the end, though. I would also have incorporated a laundry area into the outside storage.

Best moment during the process?
Every step we completed felt like the most satisfying accomplishment, but finishing off the exterior painting was definitely up there!


How did you manage your budget?
We spent most of our money buying the house, plus paying for the three major costs at the start: the roof, insulation and French doors. After that we just did what we could as we could afford it. We didn’t fork out for anything until we saved enough to do the next project. We paid for a digger to come in and remove the old deck, swimming pool, concrete driveway and a whole lot of noxious weeds, and we paid for a plumber to sign off our fireplace and hook our oven up to gas, but we did everything else on our own. Luckily, with Zane’s skills and contacts, we were able to get heaps of materials at cost price or borrow equipment off friends. We are also both very thrifty people so we make use of what we have, reuse, shop at recycling centres, and thoroughly enjoy it.

What did you save and splurge on?
After the first few jobs were completed, we splurged on a new fireplace and oven. Pretty much everything else we saved on because we didn’t need to pay for labour, and we were creative with materials.

Total: $25,000-$30,000


Interview by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Helen Bankers.

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