Builder wins House of the Year award with first entry

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Jonathan Lewis of J Lewis Building Ltd in Nelson says taking out the PlaceMakers New Homes $250,000 – $350,000 award at the Registered Master Builders 2013 House of the Year was “totally unexpected”.

Mr Lewis says it was extremely rewarding to win a House of the Year award, particularly as this was the company’s first ever entry into the competition.
“There were a lot of entries in this category with some pretty impressive houses, so it was quite overwhelming to hear our name read out as the winner,” he says.
“Being a relatively young firm, we don’t have a reputation that is 20 years strong. We only started up three years ago, so this award goes a long way to reaching out to clients — it tells them that they can choose us with confidence.”

Mr Lewis believes the clever use of space and strong workmanship made this home stand out from others in the category.
“The house is only 95 sq m, but at no point does it feel that small when you walk around. The high ceilings, split level and generous decks create a really unique feeling in the home,” he says.

“It is a house that showcases workmanship. There is nowhere to hide — everything is on show. It’s easy to critique workmanship when everything is on display, but it is very hard to find fault with the finished product.”

The judges said while simple and straightforward in appearance and finish, the degree of difficulty to achieve this build could not go unnoticed to the discerning eye.
“Deliberately created to blend in with its forest surroundings, this small three-bedroomed bach in the bush was constructed under instruction to leave as much of the vegetation around the site as possible,” they said.

“Perched on driven timber piles, on a steep and challenging site, the ‘close to nature’ approach meant use of concrete or earth displacement was not appropriate.
“Stained to mimic the colour of Kanuka bark, this home has a particularly well-designed entrance and lobby with a sloping window to give a tree house feel, while creating the link between the split level separate building forms of sleeping and living.”

Mr Lewis says he was impressed by the publicity generated by his House of the Year win and the strength of the Master Builder’s brand from a client’s perspective.
“It was some of my previous clients who nudged me in the direction of joining Registered Master Builders, because there is such strong awareness of the Master Builders brand.
“From a customer’s perspective, they were obviously very in favour of the organisation. The affiliation with a trusted brand puts people at ease, which was a big part of why I joined.

“I also wanted to get involved with events like House of the Year, and we will absolutely continue to enter. The publicity has been fantastic and, generally, the experience was really enjoyable. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

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.