The Block builder Josh Shan­ley’s stun­ning Oakura home

A man who built his own home while si­mul­ta­ne­ously work­ing on The Block knows a thing or two about new-builds. Josh Shan­ley in­vites us into his beau­ti­ful Oakura home and shares some hard-won ad­vice

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by An­nick Larkin. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Jane Dove Juneau.

You might recog­nise Josh Shan­ley from last year’s The Block NZ. Josh joined

Cat Glass and Jeremy Hill’s team in week five of the series. What was meant to be one week turned into six.

“It was a bit for­eign at first, to be work­ing with cam­eras all around, but once I got stuck in and knew how much there was to achieve, I soon for­got about them,” he says.

Josh got the call-up to The Block when he was half­way through build­ing his own home in the coastal com­mu­nity of Oakura, 12km out of New Ply­mouth. Josh would spend the week­days on set in Auck­land, then re­turn home to his fam­ily at week­ends to work on his own project. That’s an aw­ful lot of time be­hind a nail gun, but Josh says he’s al­ways en­joyed a chal­lenge and op­er­at­ing to tight dead­lines, so the unique pres­sures of work­ing both on and off The Block suited his fo­cused work style.


“When Josh and the boys from Taranaki turned up on The Block it was as if a burst of fresh en­ergy hit the site,” re­calls Jeremy. “Cat and I gen­uinely had a great time on the show, but hav­ing Josh join us was a mas­sive part of why our ex­pe­ri­ence was so en­joy­able. We came away from it re­ally mo­ti­vated and re­alised that with a bit of hard ef­fort and cre­at­ing a good team around you, great things are pos­si­ble.”


Josh and his wife, Emily, had sold their pre­vi­ous home and had a par­tic­u­lar Oakura sec­tion in mind to build their new home on. They had con­cept draw­ings done for the site, but noth­ing seemed to be go­ing to plan, and the neigh­bours weren’t play­ing ball, ei­ther. Even­tu­ally the pair de­cided to shelve the idea (luck­ily, the pur­chase hadn’t yet gone through).

“At the time, this felt like a big deal, but now we look back and see it was the best thing that could have hap­pened,” says Josh. A lo­cal agent told the cou­ple about an­other sec­tion and in mid 2014 they put in an of­fer be­fore the list­ing went to mar­ket, and the plot be­came theirs. “Now we are here, we some­times have to pinch our­selves,” ex­plains Emily. “With the beach so close, the beau­ti­ful moun­tain and bush views, it truly does help us to de-stress and re­lax after a busy day at work.”


The bare sec­tion was mostly flat, but the tail end sloped to­wards the neigh­bour­ing re­serve. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous to the cou­ple how they would con­fig­ure the room lay­out, but the site had a beau­ti­ful bush out­look which also helped shel­ter it from off­shore winds.

As with most builds, un­ex­pected sit­u­a­tions arose. “Once the earth­works got un­der way, it re­vealed there was more sand than we’d ex­pected, so it made sense to dig it all out,” says Josh.

This worked in their favour as it meant they could then lo­cate the dou­ble garage be­low the liv­ing area, thereby de­creas­ing the build­ing’s foot­print on the land.


Josh and Emily de­signed most of the lay­out them­selves, with the help of ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer Paul Rus­sell. “Paul was very oblig­ing when it came to chang­ing things around and did all the hard work to get every­thing sub­mit­ted to coun­cil. We had nu­mer­ous floor plans be­fore the fi­nal one was con­firmed,” says Josh. “We also had to make changes to sat­isfy coun­cil re­quire­ments for day­light an­gles next to a re­serve. At the time, it felt like a real set­back, but in hind­sight it meant our de­sign ended up be­ing a much bet­ter fit for the sec­tion.”

KITCHEN/LIV­ING Large win­dows were de­lib­er­ately cho­sen in the open plan liv­ing/ din­ing/kitchen to frame the beau­ti­ful lush green out­look. Tim­ber ac­cents com­ple­ment the out­door green­ery cre­at­ing a tran­quil, fresh and un­clut­tered in­te­rior.

MEET + GREET Josh Shan­ley, 34, (builder & event man­ager), Emily Shan­ley, 31, (ac­coun­tant & event man­ager), Olive, 6, Lote, 5, and Duke, 2, plus Tahi the Lowchen-poo­dle.

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