As-is to here it is!

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The story of how we bought an as-is-where-is and replaced it with our dream home.

In 2014 my partner and I moved to Christchurch. We both got jobs, found a townhouse to rent in the city centre and found ourselves after just a few months looking for places we could maybe call our own. We were optimistic and searched keenly for unique opportunities that others might not be brave enough for. In the post-earthquake Christchurch context, this translated mainly to looking at as-is-where-is properties. Armed with only our few years experience in architecture jobs post-university, we became familiar with builders reports, L1-3 zoning, mortgage requirements and, possibly most daunting of all, EQC insurance claim forms.

After many open homes, we found a pint-size worker’s cottage on a small section on the edge of Somerfield with a bit of character (real estate speak and a massive understatement!). We had a few days to think about it and sort out finance options as the auction was scheduled for a few days after we’d both properly seen it. The auction it itself was hugely exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking! Luckily we had the support of a real estate agent friend who is now an auctioneer. This turned out to be a huge help and he was pivotal in helping us stitch together a game plan for how we’d bid. Our hearts were thumping and then suddenly - BANG - “Sold to the lovely young couple in the corner!”.

#@$%^^! What had we done?!

Three weeks later the trailer was full and we had a tarnished set of keys in our hands for the wonky front door. We had a new BBQ because there wasn’t a working oven and parents on hand with sugar soap and spray-and-wipe. We were moving into our first home and the adventure had only just begun.

Through Spring we cooked every meal outside and tested plants out in the garden. Summer was spent breakfasting outside where there was more room and mowing the tiny lawn with a new electric mower. Winter came and we had no heating, insulation or intact walls so we wore everything we owned to bed. Chloe’s mum generously sewed us some thermal curtains for nearly every opening in the house. Winter kept coming and our pipes froze so we wrapped them in layers of their own clothing. Winter seemed to never end and then not far behind it came the mice, who saw the blankets we used to keep our pipes from freezing as the perfect place to make a nest.

But eventually we made a plan.

After braving one drafty sub-zero Christchurch winter, the time came to shit or get off the pot (the pot being an earthquake-damaged toilet in a bathroom where your breath was white steam and the floor was on a slope and below ground level).

We did our due diligence and walked various building professionals through the house. They consistently implied, with varying levels of politeness, the same thing. The cottage had to go and the wisest choice was to start with a clean slate. It didn’t take much to convince us that a super warm and dry, mouse-free new home was the way to go. I think we started sketching floor plans the same minute that we made the decision.

Being an interior designer and a graduate architect the process was immensely fun even while being super stressful. The second half of 2015 and most of 2016 (another Winter in the old house but this time our new-house dreams kept us sane) was a blur of design, research, meetings about money, meetings with our builder, and finally lodging resource and building consents.  In November 2016 in just one day the old girl was bowled down -  and two weeks later the footprint of our second home was permanently poured. What a journey.


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The whole dug and filled. No sign of what used to be.

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A new foundation being poured.

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Framing up, a new house starts to appear.

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The result a couple weeks in. Warmer than ever.


If you have any questions about as-is-where-is houses or the design and build process, get in touch with our design lead Jono Coates.


About the author
Team photos square Jono

Co-founder and Design Lead. Jono brings with him extensive multi-disciplinary experience across all aspects of digital and physical design. Jono formally trained as an industrial designer before making his transition into a career in Commercial Interior design. At Propd Jono heads up all things design with special enthusiasm for developing amazing user experiences.