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NZ It's Hulme sweet home once more

Property Here - Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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Historic Parnell house back to full glory after more than $2m and 15 months of painstaking restoration work.
Mike Mattin and Antony Matthews say the home needed extensive work. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Mike Mattin and Antony Matthews say the home needed extensive work. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The original Parnell Princess is back basking in the limelight of the suburb's main street after an extensive facelift for 21st century life.

Hulme Court at 350 Parnell Rd has been restored to its former glory as home to prominent Auckland pioneers after 15 months' work costing more than $2 million.

Heritage advisers on the project say the 1843 Regency-style house was admired for its distinctive hipped roof, elegantly terraced veranda and shuttered sash windows.

But the house was in rather a sorry state when it was bought by an overseas resident for $2.5 million in 2011 - below the 2008 QV land value.

Weather-tightness issues and the historic classification's restriction on renovations and modernisation put off many prospective purchasers.

Hulme Court had been continuously lived in and new owners Lina and Suhardiman Ijawan wanted to see it conserved, maintained and adapted for appropriate use, said Antony Matthews, of Matthews & Matthews Architects.

A conservation plan allowed for respectful improvements for modern bathroom and kitchen facilities and upgrading of power and drainage.

Outside, research into the home's genuine historic elements guided restoration work on the garden, roof, veranda, joinery, original bluestone walls and later timber-clad additions.

"She doesn't smell damp or feel cold anymore," said Mr Matthews.

"We've put on a whole new roof - she is wearing a Gortex raincoat now that should last her another 50 years," said Mike Mattin, project manager for Joyce Group building consultants.

"It was a journey of discovery - you don't know what's under there until you start stripping the elements off.

"We spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars on structural strengthening in the roof space that we really did not anticipate.

"But we had an owner who has a passion for old buildings and his expectations were very much in line with the heritage people from the Historic Places Trust and Auckland Council."

This made the project unusual, said Dr Bryan Pooley, council built heritage specialist.

"It's the oldest occupied house on its original site in Auckland.

"We had a private person undertaking the work where normally most people undertaking a restoration like this want public money to help them along," he said. "But this owner was prepared to take advice from a conservation architect, the Historic Places Trust and the council's heritage team and was prepared to keep going as the bills mounted up.

"As a result, the New Zealand public have a good restoration of the building paid for by private money."

Dr Pooley and Historic Places Trust heritage adviser architecture Robin Byron said the project was not straight forward but turned out to be a model of how teamwork and care could give a stunning result.

The project received $65,000 from the trust's preservation incentive fund for Category 1 historic places. The owners live overseas and Hulme Court's future may be as commercial premises rather than residential, or a mixture of both.