Converting unused space in Queenstown

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After noticing their home's downstairs area wasn't getting the use it should, this client sought help in re-establishing its purpose.

After noticing their home's downstairs area wasn't getting the use it should, this client sought help in re-establishing its purpose.

Before After
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Developing the concept

Initially, the downstairs area served as a second lounge, bedroom, and laundry for the main house. Had it been used as often as expected, it would have made an ideal space for casual living and entertainment. 
Once the client realised they didn’t need the downstairs area, they looked at new opportunities for utilising the space. There were a handful of options for altering the 50 squared metres available and from them, with careful consideration, the client chose to create an entirely self-contained unit. 
This decision wouldn’t only give new purpose to the unused space and enhance the property’s value but also give the client a new option for income.
Eager to get started, the client contacted Refresh Renovations and was put in touch with David Dolphin, their local Renovation Specialist. Together, they re-designed the downstairs layout into a two-bedroom apartment with its very own kitchen, living room, bathroom, and laundry nook. 

Restructuring while meeting requirements

The plan was to establish the downstairs area as a self-contained unit that would be completely separate from the main house. For this to happen, the space needed to be fully fire-proofed to meet Building Code compliance for an individual fire cell. This requirement demanded a variety of material components for the conversion to be successful.
For starters, David and his renovation team had to fully fire-proof the ceiling, the shared walls with the main house, and each new interior wall. Then followed a handful of other essential installations.
The renovation team installed an aluminium front door with adjoining sidelight; built an exterior fire apron to control the potential vertical spread of fire; and constructed new bulkheads to provide extra ventilation to the bathroom and laundry areas. 

The conversion

The renovation team established several new interior walls and doors to create the two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom, and laundry nook. During this construction process, they also installed all of the new plumbing work. These additions included a new gas califont that would provide hot water to the apartment, which is separate from the main house.
Along with plumbing, all of the electrical work needed re-doing to support the new floor plan layout. Installation included new wiring, LED lighting, switches, and a circuit board upgrade.
With the framework built and ready for use, David and his renovation team went ahead and established the interior. The new apartment features modern kitchen joinery from PlaceMakers, bathroom fixtures from Mico Plumbing, and light ash wood laminate flooring from FlooringXtra.
During the conversion, the client also had an additional renovation outside of the downstairs area; they needed a new place for the main house’s laundry. Instead of keeping it downstairs, the client decided to shift the space into their garage. For this part of the project, the clients managed all of the painting themselves.

Overcoming the challenges

Initially, David estimated the build time would take five months long. However, the impact of COVID-19 and difficulties with obtaining code compliance meant the project had to extend to eight months altogether. 
New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown was the biggest obstacle. Starting not long after construction began, the lockdown period delayed all practical completion and disrupted the building programme significantly. 
But despite the challenges, David and his renovation team worked diligently to see the project completed quickly and to a high standard. This ambition meant recommencing construction as soon as possible - despite it being under strict guidelines during level 3/level 2.

A contemporary finish

The conversion resulted in a successful transformation of the under-used downstairs space. What was once a second living room, bedroom, and laundry, became a stunning, contemporary self-contained apartment. 
Featuring two good-sized bedrooms, a cosy living room, a modern bathroom, and it’s very own laundry nook, the unit has become a wonderful place to call home. The star of the show? It has to be the kitchen. Decorated with an elegant colour palette, subway tiled splashback, and the latest appliances; the area is sure to become the heart of the apartment.

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This project was completed in
December 2020
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Project description
Queenstown & Wanaka
New Zealand
Project duration
8 months
Cost estimate
Actual cost
COVID-19 lockdown
Interesting aspects
LED Lighting and a floating'?basin in the new bathroom
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