These ex-Block NZ winners recently put their renovation skills to the test with the development of a new site in Auckland, writes Joanna Jefferies.
1 October 2018
You’ll probably know Alice and Caleb Pearson as the couple who won The Block NZ in 2013, but the handy pair actually began renovating three years before that, and they’ve renovated a house every year since. The latest project for their company Pearson + Projects was the development of a 674m2 corner site in Otahuhu.
Bought in August 2016, the site had an existing three-bedroom home on it and after subdividing, they relocated a 1960s three-bedroom house onto the new 327m2 section. The pair paid $770,000 for the property near the height of the property boom in Auckland, because they knew they could realise the potential of the site.
The existing home on the site was rented throughout the subdivision process and they kept on the existing tenants, who paid $580 per week.
Given the small site, the pair scouted for several months to find a relocatable house which would best suit the tight section and its aspect. “It took a year for us to find the house and get all of the consents before we were able to relocate the house onto site,” says Caleb.
Thankfully, the existing house didn’t need to be moved to accommodate the new house because of the dual frontage and separate driveways.
Deck construction, base boards and entrance built by So Renovate $20,000
Deck stain: $145 Exterior paint: $933
Exterior painter $7,500
Driveway $6,500 Roof $10,000
TOTAL COST: $45,078
Electrician by Pro-Spec Electrical $1,725
Flooring by Active Floor Sanding $550
Paint (including preparation and spray hire) $1,900
Building Work (including plasterer) by So Renovate $3,450
Blind 50mm wooden Venetian blind $798
New Window Second hand from Trade Me $200
TOTAL COST: $8,623
Time to Renovate
The pair project managed the subdivision and renovation. They’re no strangers to renovating (Caleb works in project management and Alice is a home-stager) and this stood them in good stead.
The house was a full gut-job and the renovation included installing a new roof, moving some walls to create open plan living, installing a kitchen, bathroom, fully repainting it and carpeting.
Outside they completed new drainage, added a deck, landscaped as well as fully painting it.
The renovation took a period of five months at which time the couple rented out the home they lived in in order to cut costs.
“We actually moved in when it was finished in February, while we were waiting for the title, so we didn’t have to pay for two mortgages,” says Caleb.
Alice’s styling skills were put to work for staging the house to sell, and the pair put the house up for auction privately.
“I’m quite familiar with the market so I had a good idea of what I thought it was worth,” says Caleb. One big challenge with selling privately was finding the time to follow up potential buyers. “It definitely had its challenges but it felt like it was worth it.”
The new home sold for $765,000 at auction. The pair then got to work giving the existing 81m2 home on the section a refresh, doing a cosmetic makeover with paint, carpet and blinds. That project was part of a “renovation race” the pair ran on their website and on social media. The couple competed against Alice’s sister and her husband who were also doing a cosmetic renovation of a similar type of house in Mt Wellington. Once completed, the home was listed privately too, selling for $710,000.
“One of the biggest frustrations would have been around the timeframe, dealing with the subdivision process and necessary steps required,” says Caleb. “It’s never a quick process, just dealing with the authorities and utility companies takes a while.”
Another learning curve was around finance: “One of the biggest things I learnt was around having sufficient capital to complete the subdivision – it did come close.”
The couple currently have rentals in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty but have recently embarked on a “renovation road trip” – they’ll be moving around the country, buying a home and renovating it with their two preschool children in tow, before they move on to the next location. They’ve planned to take around 18 months and expect to renovate three houses in that time. It’s a chance to have an adventure and see some of New Zealand while also doing what they love and earning some money. Follow their road trip and renovations at www.pearsonandprojects.com