Reconstructing a church
The biggest challenge was in the strengthening work, which the Urlich family did voluntarily to make it as safe as possible while still respecting the building. It involved lifting the rimu flooring joists and white birch floorboards and digging trenches inside each wall. Concrete and steel reinforcing rods were laid into the trenches and then attached to steel beams criss- crossing the interior walls. The roof was lifted off to allow the steel beams to be fixed to the roof trusses. An interior false wall was then created, 20 centimetres thick, to hide the insulation and supporting steel. The new plasterboard was also made to look old, resembling a stone finish. The interior fit- out – as a three bedroom, twobathroom home with all mod- cons including underfloor heating – then happened at quite a pace. Brendon says the project had originally limped along for nearly a decade before he said to himself, “You run large multinational companies and you’d never allow a project to dribble along like this.” He then began working with Ant Robertson of Lifestyle Construction, whose team took to the project with enthusiasm. Brendon laughs now while admitting that he and Kerry often wondered if they’d gone mad. “Almost every intervention, even the Historic Places Trust controls, for which we are grateful in terms of preserving the building, turned out to be useful in the end.“However, sometimes the constant stream of invoices heading to Vietnam got a bit much even for Brendon. He once emailed Ant after receiving another batch asking, “Will this ever end?” “Dunno,” came the typically brief Central Otago reply. The stone church is available for short- term holiday rental via Bachcare, bachcare.co. nz (search for “the Stone Temple”).