Living and Renovating in Rodney

It has been said that New Zealand's weather is a bit like experiencing four seasons in one day (thanks, Crowded House). While the weather metaphor might not be accurate, the diversity one is when it comes to renovating in the Rodney district.

Muriwai beach on the east coast of the Rodney district
ARTICLE Erin Reilly

Part of the Auckland Super City and roughly an hour’s drive from the city centre, Rodney is characterised by beaches, hills, harbours and extensive farmland. In reality, then – it’s not really characterised by anything at all. And that’s the point. You can be in Rodney in 20 minutes from downtown Auckland with Orewa just a 30-minute drive away.
Home to almost 90,000 people and the 11th most populous region out of New Zealand’s 73 districts, Rodney boasts a relatively large land area and as such is incredibly diverse. On one side of the road there can be established farmland areas that have been in the same family for five generations.
On the other, there could be a cluster of four-acre lifestyle blocks just waiting for modern homes to be planted. There are old bach areas like Omaha which are slowly but surely being replaced by renovated homes and multi-million dollar new builds. Don’t forget Orewa, which is home to a largely retiree population, while just down the road at Silverdale and Millwater massive subdivisions are sprouting out of nowhere. Rodney really does have it all.
“Rodney is special because of the diversity of areas and sites,” says Tim Walters, Refresh Renovations Rodney specialist. “You can be wearing gumboots on a 100-acre farm one day then sipping tea in a retiree house on 275sqm of land the next. Million-dollar homes sit right next to 60-year-old bach’s that look like they’re about to blow over in the next storm. We see it all because the age of homes in Rodney is so varied.
Rodney's vast farmland with sheep
Despite not having one common housing theme throughout the district, Rodney has long been regarded as being one thing: rural. However, Auckland is creeping ever-closer, which in turn is transforming traditionally rural areas into little villages, often inhabited by city commuters.
“Rodney is right on the edge of old Auckland,” says Tim. “Like every sprawling city Auckland just keeps spreading. In the Orewa area there are massive subdivisions and business parks planned and already underway, which means our population is going to boom too.”
“The motorway is creeping further north, which means commuting to the city can sometimes be as quick as if you already live in the city. More and more younger couples are moving from the city to Rodney because they can still buy a house with a bit of land without having to sell their soul, then renovate it to fit their unique style and preferences.”
“Now, though, Rodney’s house prices aren’t that far off city prices, but the lifestyle is why you choose to live here. Rodney is home to a lot of people who don’t want the hustle and bustle of the big city right outside their front door, but they still want the freedom to be in the city in an hour if they want to be.”
East coast beaches in the Rodney district
Given the diversity in land type and the region’s traditionally rural nature, what kinds of things do homeowners need to take into consideration before attempting a renovation in Rodney? Tim says a big factor is wind.
“When you renovate close to the sea, you encounter high wind zones, sea spray zones and at sea level flood zones,” he says, “but that’s quite common all over the country.”
“But you’d be surprised at how windy it gets on rural properties too. If you want amazing views in secluded spots, you need to take wind into consideration with every renovation – it’s as simple as that.”
When it come to the kinds of services city-dwellers take for granted like power, sewage and water, the rural nature of Rodney comes into play too.
“Gas might be a good option, but in much of Rodney you can’t bring gas in from the street because it’s just not there,” Tim says. “If you want to use gas, often the only option is to use refillable bottles.”
Water tank solution Rodney home owners
“If you’re using septic tank rather than town sewage lines, you need to think about how old it is, especially if you’re intending on adding another bathroom. Can it handle the extra work?
“Water is important too. Are you on town or tank water? How much water do you really want – or need? And where’s the best place for a water tank?”
Other environmental factors can be taken into consideration too, particularly when it comes to heating (although, “to be fair it doesn’t get cold in Rodney.”). While most homes are well-insulated and healthy compared to builds over 40 years ago, how much heating renovators invest is largely up to them. An increasingly popular form of heating is water-based underfloor heating inside concrete flooring slabs. Installing a couple of heat pumps throughout the home is another efficient heating idea. Fires might be romantic and add to the relaxed rural feeling, but they’re not cheap, they’re costly to maintain and they aren’t very friendly on the environment either.
“I personally love using solar along with energy efficient appliances and fittings like the Bosch 3000 hot water heat pump,” says Tim. “Solar panels on the roof with battery banks are well worth the upfront investment if you’re planning on staying put for at least 10 years.”
“Plan, plan, plan is the best way to look at it,” he continues, “especially if you don’t think you’re going to stay in your home forever. Heating choices are a personal preference, but it also pays to consider who the next owners might be and what they might be looking for.”
Rodney might be relatively rural, but judging by recent population trends it looks to be the next Auckland quasi suburb. Ultimately, Rodney is a great place to consider renovating because of the diversity of land type. No one renovation is the same as the next, which gives homeowners the chance to create something truly unique and personal.

You might be interested in reading this Refresh's case study: Subdividing, renovating and extending a property.


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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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