Wairewa Farm – Strahl Builders
From “write-oFF” to renovation
DiamonD in the rough
umerous builders traipsed their way through the Lathams’ six generation family homestead in Little River to assess its damage, but there was only one who didn’t call the property a “write-off”. Local construction firm Strahl Building had previously been involved in the high-profile restoration of the 143-year-old Leeston property iconic Oakleigh, a 360sqm homestead which the company extensively rebuilt and extended, by a team highly qualified in heritage restoration.
“All the consultants who had viewed Lathams’ homestead said it was beyond restoring,” Strahl Building director Grant Macgregor Strahl says. “There were blueprints to knock it down and replace it with a new house but the problem with that was it came with a $3 million price tag.” Throwing out the “completely incorrect” scope right off the bat, Grant Strahl assessed the property and, after travelling back to the property with his son and Strahl Building co-director Robert Strahl, the pair were able to formulate a strategy to repair and earthquake strengthen the structure.
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Built in 1904, the 550sqm property known as the Wairewa Farm homestead required extensive earthquake strengthening and levelling. A significant amount of rot and decay was rectified, with the entire exterior stripped and reclad, including all facia, soffits, corbels and brackets, and the house was reroofed. Extensive changes were made to the existing floor plan layout, new electrical, plumbing, linings and replaster throughout. A new kitchen and bathrooms were added, with exterior windows and doors to suit the new layout.
“We renovated inside and out, putting on 4km of weatherboards, new plumbing and new wiring, removing all rotten and decayed timber, and relevelled floors,” Grant Strahl explains. “We added a new kitchen, scullery and bathrooms. Modernising all the while maintaining the integrity of the period it was built.” Robert Strahl who has an exceptional knowledge and craftsmanship in traditional building techniques, headed a crew which included Rob Harrow, Ruaraidh McLeod and Simon Brown, to produce superior quality finished product on time and on budget.
“There were blueprints to knock it down and replace it with a new house but the problem with that was it came with a $3 million price tag.”
“Our strength is in the fact that we have decades of experience and much of it is in restoration of older larger homes, always in view of being sympathetic to the period or style of the house,” Grant says. “We have the knowledge and ability for projects where much of it must be done by hand rather than just assembling; studying and re-making the components to match the original.”