Re­con­struct­ing a church

NZ Life & Leisure - - Country Life -

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, bach­ nz (search for “the Stone Tem­ple”).

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