Amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

KNOWN for a time as the “Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge” by Dover lo­cals, Leanne and Matthew McLean’s three­bed­room home is strik­ing.

Perched on top of a hill over­look­ing pic­turesque Port Esper­ance Bay, the McLeans turned what was a run- down, tiny, one- bed­room weath­er­board cot­tage ( pic­tured right) into a pris­tine, imag­i­na­tive, jaw- drop­ping mod­ern home.

The cot­tage ig­nored the views, but their new home soaks them up from ev­ery van­tage point. These breath­tak­ing views were the first thing the McLeans fell in love with, and their rea­son for buy­ing the prop­erty.

Af­ter their imag­i­na­tions ran wild with the home’s de­sign, the build was no easy project.

Only the orig­i­nal kitchen and bath­room re­mains, now con­verted into a guest bed­room, bath and laun­dry.

As owner- builders, the McLeans lived in the cot­tage and later a shed through­out the con­struc­tion of their seven- year labour of love.

Leanne said they placed 23 steel poles around the ex­te­rior of the cot­tage and en­gulfed it with this new struc­ture.

“As it all hap­pened on top of a hill, the lo­cals could see ev­ery­thing we were do­ing and nick- named it the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge,” she said.

“We used 10 tonnes of steel in the frame. In hind­sight, we may have bit­ten off a lit­tle more than we could chew.”

The project of­fered many chal­lenges, in­clud­ing a winter without a real roof.

“We had an elab­o­rate set of tar­pau­lins to keep the rain out, but it only helped up to a point. We needed gum­boots to go into the kitchen,” Leanne said.

“For me, the big­gest chal­lenge was the speed. We were both work­ing full- time and couldn’t get it fin­ished as quick as we would have liked. Matthew, a deck­hand by trade, took on new chal­lenges all the time as they arose.

“Our de­sign was am­bi­tious – lots of sharp an­gles, cir­cles and ba­si­cally no right an­gles. And build­ing around the old cot­tage, noth­ing was square.

“On a long project, stay­ing mo­ti­vated is al­ways a big chal­lenge.”

The house is clad in lo­cally cut Tas­ma­nian Oak from a Dover sawmill.

The win­dows are all huge to match the over- sized rooms and had to be hung in com­mer­cial frames.

Around ev­ery cor­ner is a new high­light to dis­cover, from the Huon pine win­dow to the sand­stone fea­ture wall, which were both gifts from friends.

“Peo­ple al­ways comment on the un­usual spa­ces, like the read­ing nook,” Leanne said.

“At the front door, there is a two- storey win­dow bank with a half- moon win­dow that has some wow fac­tor.”

Sus­tain­abil­ity was an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion, with dou­ble and triple in­su­la­tion in places and smart glass win­dows keep­ing the house in­cred­i­bly warm.

The McLeans used lo­cal sup­pli­ers, builders and join­ers wher­ever pos­si­ble.

“That was im­por­tant to us,” Leanne said. “The glazier had never done a project like this one be­fore but they rose to the oc­ca­sion and did a great job.”

The prop­erty was de­signed by lo­cal de­signer John Arnold.

The gourmet kitchen was de­signed and com­pleted by lo­cal joiner Sean Se­abourne.

And lo­cal builder Ian Mid­g­ley helped Leanne and Matthew fin­ish off their house.

Aside from work­ing bees with fam­ily and friends, the McLeans did the rest them­selves. And now they have the bug to do an­other house.

“We moved to Ho­bart for work and are con­sid­er­ing our next project,” Leanne said.

“We are proud of what we built but I think the next project will defi nitely have less an­gles.”

The prop­erty, Quarry Hill Look­out, is be­ing used as lux­ury hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion.

UN­USUAL DE­SIGN: Clock­wise from top, Leanne and Matthew Mclean’s rental hol­i­day prop­erty; the an­gu­lar fi rst- fl oor cor­ri­dor; the kitchen has a spec­tac­u­lar view; the oven- heated liv­in­groom. Pic­tures: MATT THOMP­SON

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