The Wolf opens the door on his cottage reno and those ‘sore paws’
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.
Peter Wolfkamp and Debbie Coleman renovated a rundown house.