The Wolf opens the door on his cot­tage reno and those ‘sore paws’

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - Anne Gib­son

The Wolf’s new front door speaks to vis­i­tors and the be­spoke lounge fire­place is ac­ti­vated from his cell­phone: it’s 1906 cot­tage meets 2020 build­ing stan­dards.

“But the best thing is, it’s now fit for pur­pose,” ex­plains Peter Wolfkamp, site fore­man from the pop­u­lar The Block NZ se­ries, host of New­stalk ZB’s The Res­i­dent Builder on Sun­days 6am-9am, and pub­lic speaker.

Known as The Wolf on TV, the builder and his wife Deb­bie Cole­man have been work­ing for al­most a year on a her­itage worker’s cot­tage in Auck­land’s Devon­port,

I’ve been off the tools for four years. Wolfkamp says of his sore ‘paws’.

which they plan to rent out.

“I ini­tially thought $150,000 but I did a spread­sheet and the bud­get came in closer to $245,000 and I stuck to that,” he said.

Wolfkamp made his name work­ing on other peo­ple’s houses but the cou­ple are still ren­o­vat­ing their own Devon­port home.

The cot­tage is one of four neigh­bour­ing places on Owens Rd. The ro­man­tic story of their gen­e­sis is that they were built for the

Coro­man­del gold rush and barged to Auck­land. The less ro­man­tic tale is that a Devon­port ferry com­pany cre­ated them as worker ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Wolfkamp used his own build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and sec­tor con­nec­tions to pick the best prod­ucts and meth­ods for the ren­o­va­tion on the 1906 cot­tage.

“I hunted for ages to find that,” he says of his new E-LOK elec­tronic front door latch, blue­toothed to cell phones.

Cole­man shows how when an in­cor­rect code is en­tered, the de­vice scolds “op­er­a­tion fail!”

Last year Wolfkamp had help from two builder friends and more

re­cently from land­scap­ers. But he es­ti­mates at least $50,000 worth of his own time was spent on the cot­tage and his “paws” were so sore each night he had to pack them in ice for the first fort­night: “I’ve been off the tools for four years. I was work­ing up un­til the last six years but lately, I’ve been do­ing more me­dia.”

With­out The Block NZ this year, he was free to com­plete the project.

Wolfkamp’s cot­tage tour be­gins at the ve­randa, where the steps, tongue and groove deck­ing and balustrade­s were re­placed. In­side, grey and white colours dom­i­nate, and in the mas­ter bed­room, wall­pa­per de­signed by his sis­ter, artist Tanya

Wolfkamp, was in­spired by botanist Joseph Banks’ sketches, fea­tur­ing indige­nous flora, and cov­ers an en­tire fea­ture wall.

Around 20sq m of floor­ing was laid in the ceil­ing cav­ity of the three­bed­room 95sq m home, ac­cessed via a Vic­to­rian-style hatch.

New un­der­floor, roof and wall in­su­la­tion means the home’s ther­mal prop­er­ties are up­graded to to­day’s stan­dards, “which in an old cot­tage is a rar­ity”.

The roof was sag­ging, its rusted iron leak­ing. So new lengths of tim­ber strength­ened ex­ist­ing beams and for around $15,000, Metal Roof­ing Ser­vices laid a new matte grey cor­ru­gated roof “so it wasn’t scream­ing shiny. I’m very happy with that.”

Back-to-back sec­ond bed­room/ lounge fire sur­rounds were stripped and the or­ange bricks coated in a Rock­cote ren­der, then sealed. “All or­ange was elim­i­nated.” The T&G rimu ceil­ings were also painted white.

“It was good back in the 80s but not to­day.”

The ex­ist­ing kauri floors were in poor con­di­tion so new floor­ing was put down in a French oak lam­i­nate.

To let more light into the bath­room, Wolfkamp re­placed a shal­low window with a taller yet still nar­row dou­ble-sash Vic­to­rian-style window — “not that easy to find in

It was good back in the 80s but not to­day. Wolfkamp says of rimu ceil­ings

the yards”. The cast iron bath was re­tained and resur­faced and mar­ble tiles went on the floor and walls.

The north­east-fac­ing kitchen got new dou­ble-glazed black pow­der­coated alu­minium join­ery and a $20,000 be­spoke kitchen from T Broth­ers Cab­i­netry.

“Wait for this!” ex­claims Cole­man in the lounge whose main fea­ture is a dra­matic pur­pose-built, glass­fronted gas fire­place cost­ing $7500. That stands nearly 1m high and wide, built by Dunedin-based man­u­fac­turer Esca; Wolfkamp praised their re­sults.

He has named the place Huis, Dutch for house to re­flect his her­itage. He hopes the work will in­spire oth­ers and says 0.5 per cent of a home’s val­u­a­tion should be set aside an­nu­ally for main­te­nance and up­grades.

“Kiwi homes are of­ten ter­ri­ble,” he says, cit­ing an Otago Uni­ver­sity study es­ti­mat­ing 700,000 places are poorly in­su­lated. “Run your own body cor­po­rate levy,” the res­i­dent builder smiles as he qui­etly shuts the key­less front door.

Dean Pur­cell

Peter Wolfkamp and Deb­bie Cole­man ren­o­vated a run­down house.

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