Review of Grand Designs New Zealand which is back for 2022. This is Grand Design NZs seventh season with new host Tom Webster.
Grand Designs New Zealand is back for 2022, and this time it's on TVNZ One. Along with being on a new channel, it also has a brand new host for its seventh season, Tom Webster. Tom takes over season from Chris Moller, who departed at the end of the sixth season.
The first episode of Grand Designs New Zealand was set on the Chatham Islands. A middle aged couple whose kids have left home have decided to build their Dream Home on existing family farmland. The building site is on a hill with a magnificent view of the landscape, with the sea in the distance.
It is a large by relatively simple house design and the expected budget was between $900,000 - $950,000. This seemed a little light, considering building a new house in New Zealand is crazy expensive, due to New Zealand having some of the most expensive material prices. However combined with the Chatham Islands location, this only added significantly to the cost of the build, increasing both the price of materials and labour.
The couple said they hoped to be in the house "before Christmas". However we know that whenever we hear that, we say to ourselves, "which Christmas do they mean?". Time deadlines are almost never met on Grand Designs shows, and this episode is no exception.
The Grand Design
The house design is interesting, especially with the massive folded double butterfly roof form, resulting in some very long internal gutters. The structure is made up of a series of large steel portal frames. The floor plan is 40 metres long and seemed quite a conventional layout. One thing that seemed strange was that visitors have to walk through the Master Bedroom in order to access guest bedrooms. A hallway behind the bedrooms could have allowed access to all bedrooms, without the need to block any of the views from those bedrooms, and also maintaining full privacy. Or they could have moved the master bedroom to the end of the house, so visitors didn't need to walk through the master bedroom, and would avoid the need for a privacy curtain in the master bedroom.
The interior is mainly all fitted out in Kauri plywood. An interesting choice, but plywood has become a more common due to the plasterboard shortage in New Zealand. It produces a warm glowing interior. We have always been a fan of plywood veneer interiors, which were common with Melling Morse architect designed houses, such as the Samurai house in Wellington.
Portuguese Cork tiles are used for much the flooring, as well as dark grey carpet. We thought that the cork tiles might clash with the Kauri plywood, and also make it feel like there was too much wood, but it seems to complement it well. However we would have like to have seen either tiles or polished concrete flooring in places, to take advantage of the large windows, and the free passive solar energy from the sun. Thermal mass (such as concrete slabs) could have been used in the floor to act as a free giant night-store heater, as it heats up from the sun during the day, and releases that heat during the night when it is cold.
Many of the fittings such as light fittings, kitchen cabinets and furniture are black or dark grey, which contrasts well with the plywood. Over all the interior is tasteful, although some people may find it a bit dark and cave like in places. There is also a lot of built in storage.
The living areas appeared more compact than we thought they would be, but it does have a lot of covered exterior spaces, as well as a lot of storage space at the back of the house. Although this is an off-the-grid house, there is barely any mention of this or the systems they are using in the program.
The exterior is clad in what appears to be vertical Zincalume corrugated long-run. This is one of the cheapest material to clad a home in, but it is relatively low maintenance and durable. There was a lot of glazing which would have been a large part of the material cost.
The end result is a solid house build with an austere exterior, and a warm timber interior. The folded roof form of the double butterfly roof is a major part of the visual aesthetics of the house. However it visually looked heavier and chunkier than the light weight appearance it was shown with in the initial 3D walkthrough. This appears to be because all of the steel structure in the soffits ended up getting boxed in, whereas the 3D renders showed it to be all exposed.
The Final Cost
But the number one thing many people want to know is did the house build go over budget, and by how much? The answer is yes, of course it did, doesn't it always? It cost them about 1.3 million dollar, which is a fairly large cost overrun of $400,000. But shipping costs alone totaled over $120,000, and materials also increased substantially during the build. In the end they said they were happy with what they got for their money, which is all that counts in the long run. They have to be commended for taking on such a large unique house build in such a remote part of New Zealand. Building a house as a client is usually never easy, and you often can't plan for every single problem that may popup, and there will always be problems that popup.
The New Grand Designs New Zealand Host
One of the big changes with this episode was the introduction to the new Grand Designs New Zealand presenter Tom Webster. He came across as a breath of fresh air, and is a new generation of Grand Design presenters. As he comes from the UK, he could potentially become an eventual replacement for Kevin McCloud, for the original Grand Designs UK when his time eventually comes to an end. Grand Designs UK is still our favorite of all of the Grand Designs versions. Kevin is great at delivering his honest verdicts, which is something that has been missing from other Grand Designs. So we hope to see Tom grow into the role with some honest opinions and wit.
Grand Designs New Zealand is on TVNZ One on Tuesdays at 7:30pm. Old episodes can be watched on TVNZ Ondemand.
Top main photo is of a New Zealand Architecturally designed home in Wellington by DLAS Architecture which is also clad in vertical steel cladding.