Grand vi­sions:

Garage home even­tu­ally leads to beach­front bliss.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

The bite of an icy Dunedin win­ter can of­ten leave peo­ple dream­ing of sum­mer days.

And when you’re liv­ing in a con­verted garage with an out­door loo, it’s only nat­u­ral your mind should wan­der to a warmer place.

But for 18 months, Tess Di­b­ley, 34, and Zac Wil­liams, 30, en­dured just that while they built them­selves a new home in the lat­est sea­son of Grand De­signs.

“We were very much of the view that we were work­ing to­wards some­thing and I think that made ev­ery­thing a bit eas­ier,” says Di­b­ley, who left Mel­bourne to join Wil­liams in chilly Otago.

So how did Wil­liams con­vince her to do that?

“We met in Wanaka and it’s a beau­ti­ful part of the world,” says Wil­liams. “(It’s) very easy to show off the coun­try when you’re up that way and so I said, ‘Let’s have a go at it’.

“Back then ob­vi­ously a house build wasn’t talked about but she did fall in love with the area.”

Fast-for­ward four years and the cou­ple have just wo­ken up in their new beach­front dream home com­plete with a two-me­tre-long fire­place, triple-glazed win­dows and lots and lots of in­su­la­tion.

“It’s very, very dif­fer­ent to what life has been like up un­til now,” says Wil­liams.

The house, in­spired by a bach at the set­tle­ment of Taieri Mouth which Wil­liams worked on as a build­ing ap­pren­tice, and drawn by the same ar­chi­tect, is right on the front­line of Dunedin’s dra­matic Brighton Beach.

“It’s a bit stormy, it’s pretty rough and the break­ers are pretty close over a small tus­sock-cov­ered bit of land,” says Wil­liams.

A stone’s throw down the road is Wil­liams’ mother’s build­ing site which was formerly home to the cou­ple’s mi­nor dwelling.

While liv­ing there, not only was builder Wil­liams work­ing on his own house to share with Di­b­ley, but his small build­ing com­pany had been hired by his mum to re­alise an­other dream home 12 years in the mak­ing.

“To do your first ma­jor big one out on your own for your par­ents is pretty cool. You see them work for 10 years re­ally hard to save up to build it so I’m very aware of what’s gone into sav­ing for it above all.”

Fit­ting in his own build with Di­b­ley around day jobs was no easy feat and the cou­ple would of­ten be found work­ing nights and on week­ends.

“It’s a pretty ex­posed kind of site as well as lots of sleet and rain and wind which made it all very chal­leng­ing,” says Di­b­ley.

But what ma­te­ri­alised was a 167sqm place to call home con­sist­ing of two very ex­posed glass gables ei­ther side, joined by a fla­troof link that acts as the din­ing area between the liv­ing room and master bed­room.

With neigh­bours only on one side of the house, pri­vacy is a non-is­sue and Wil­liams de­scribes wak­ing up to the view as “stun­ning”.

Noth­ing short of the Kiwi dream and be­ing such a young cou­ple, how they did it may leave many peo­ple scratch­ing their heads.

“We never paid for any labour in build­ing the house and if we did then the house would have cost maybe $200,000 more.

“Be­cause we did ev­ery­thing from dig­ging to putting in­su­la­tion in which took us over a month we were able to cut a lot of costs.”

He also says be­cause it’s Dunedin, house prices are noth­ing like they are in Auck­land.

Rather than buy­ing a house good to go, Wil­liams found re­ward in hav­ing his craft­man­ship on dis­play.

“There’s el­e­ments through the house that we both love,” says Wil­liams. “Like the floors are Tas­ma­nian oak and she’s from Tas­ma­nia.”

And while Di­b­ley says she knew the house was go­ing to be beau­ti­ful, there was one thing she needed.

“One of the things Zac said was, ‘What do you want?’ And what was quite unique to me is that I wanted a book­shelf,” says Di­b­ley.

Now that the build is over, Di­b­ley has got her book­shelf and is keen to en­joy the out­door liv­ing ar­eas with the books she has been col­lect­ing since she moved here. Wil­liams, on the other hand, will be ven­tur­ing away.

“I ride moun­tain bikes a lot so the last cou­ple of years I haven’t done as much of that so I’m re­ally ex­cited to get back and do what we used to do in the week­ends.”

Nei­ther Wil­liams nor Di­b­ley is in a rush to do it all over again.

“We never built it to sell or to change or any­thing,” says Wil­liams. “But as a job I’d do it again. Tess won’t.”

“No!” she con­firms.

“Be­cause we did ev­ery­thing from dig­ging to putting in­su­la­tion in which took us over a month we were able to cut a lot of costs.” – Zac Wil­liams (right) with Tess Di­b­ley

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