Christchurch builder prioritised quake efforts ahead of Supreme Award-winning build

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Phil Benton of Phil Benton Builders says it was “surreal” when his name was announced as the winner of the Supreme Award for the Registered Master Builders 2013 House of the Year.

The winning Christchurch home was built over the period of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, and Mr Benton says the hard work of the team during this time made the win all the more rewarding.
“We were building this home over both the September and February quakes, and once the February quake hit we pulled everyone off site to help repair damage in the city,” Mr Benton says.
“We were working on Colombo Street when it struck so the boys spent two days working with emergency services, helping with collapsed buildings and looking for bodies and survivors. That was tough — it took a toll on the team.
“After that, the Fendalton home was put on hold for two months while we did emergency repair work, taking cladding off buildings and applying bracing, whatever we could do. We had to do our bit to make sure everyone was safe. After those setbacks, winning the Supreme Award is certainly something to be relished.”

Also taking out the Westpac New Homes over $2 million category, the judges said the winning home was wonderfully constructed, demonstrating an incredibly high level of accuracy throughout.
“With a cleverly constructed in situ concrete wall positioned between the living and sleeping spaces as its backbone, the design successfully incorporates a mixture of concrete, tiles and marble,” they said.
“The rawness of the concrete, layered steel frames and aluminium edged roof planes is offset by the use of wood elements, including oak internal joinery and ceilings which take their cue from Scandinavian modern architecture, giving the spaces a sense of warmth and material quality.
“The internal and external spaces are stepped across the tapering site, forming various layers of enclosure and living options.
“Architecturally very innovative, and a challenging project which has been executed to the highest standard, this home meets the needs of it owners to a tee.
“This is a beautiful home, created by an exceptional builder, which wears this award very well indeed.”

Phil Benton Builders co-owner Dave Fraser believes the design of the home and the use of products made this build really stand out.
“This home has such a point of difference. There are houses in New Zealand that have one or two walls that might be in situ, but the entire spine of this house is constructed out of concrete,” Mr Fraser says.
“The design of the home was very clever, and we executed that design and finished the home to an incredibly high standard. Constructing a home like that, you either win or lose — there is no in between, and we nailed it.”
Dave and Phil say they will absolutely continue to enter House of the Year.
“The exposure and opportunities that come about from House of the Year are just fantastic. After 18 years of working our way through the ranks, we now have something tangible that really demonstrates our credibility. Coming out on top is a great feeling!”

The Awards are made possible through the support of PlaceMakers, James Hardie, GIB, Nulook, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Future-Proof Building, Carters, ITM, Plumbing World, Resene and Westpac.