No matter how good the photos are, nothing compares to stepping into the four townhouses that were completed on The Block NZ: Redemption.
The series is still being screened, so there are some areas we can’t talk about yet, namely powder rooms, stairs, renovation rooms, and landscaping. But that doesn’t matter too much. These homes will go up for auction on Saturday, September 17, 2022, so potential buyers should probably have a visit now.
It will not be a live auction on television, and the results will remain secret until the auction is screened a few weeks later, which happened on the block last year. No date has been confirmed for this show.
At first, we’d say it’s not about last year’s $2 million+ blockhouses. These are smaller, more affordable family homes in Ringi Road, in the hills behind Orewa. It is a beautiful place with a reserve, a playground and a bush above the road, and a glimpse of the sea.
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And it’s very, very quiet. Double glazing and good insulation help, of course, but there is no traffic noise. However, there are still quite a few construction works in the area.
But there are surprises here, so let’s start with those.
All-inclusive extras including inexpensive food
These townhouses are fully furnished – what you see is what you get, right down to the soap in the bathroom and the bathrobe hanging on the back of the door.
But also, there are many things that you may not know. Each house has 12 solar panels on the roof and a storage battery for the electricity generated. Studies have already shown a 60% to 70% reduction in electricity bills.
The houses are heated (and air-conditioned) with heat pumps downstairs and a ducted heat pump system upstairs.
There is also an EV charger in each garage. Some teams have provided gym equipment, and Chloe and Ben (house two) have a Samsung Airdresser for drying clothes and a $13,000 projector in their garage.
Samsung has also provided a number of TVs – there are four in house two and three in the others. They display matte artwork when not in use and look like paintings.
And then there are the Samsung Wi-Fi French door refrigerators, which have cameras that take pictures of the items inside. You can use the app to check on your phone when you’re at the supermarket and see what you might need to buy. And you can post family photos and messages on the fridge front electronically.
Producers say each team spent $250,000 on fittings, including bathrooms, kitchens and solar panels, and a minimum of $130,000 on furnishings, including furniture, curtains, furnishing fabrics and decoration.
What about the interior and decoration?
Enter these houses and you will be surprised. The ground floor living areas are much larger than expected – three of the townhouses are approximately 170m² including the single garage with utility room. However, you walk straight into the kitchen, so it won’t be possible to avoid a mess at times.
But the kitchens are set back, with a small coffee corner near the door. Thus, it becomes a pleasant distraction – it will divert attention from clutter in the kitchen. Quinn and Ben and Maree and James decorated these areas the best.
And Quinn and Ben’s house, number one, is slightly larger than the others, so it will have a higher stash on auction day. Their kitchen is bigger and they have more room for their hall cabinets.
But all the houses impress with the spaciousness in the living areas – that was the biggest surprise. Great for entertaining, and of course they flow outdoors to open-air landscaped areas.
The house with the best living space is number two, Chloe and Ben. They replaced a small tall window with a much larger window and added a window seat, so you can perch there looking at the beautiful landscaping. The larger window also brings in more light.
Their large corner sofa is the most welcoming seating area. And there is storage under the bench seat.
However, they probably have the least exciting cuisine (judge Jason Bonham gave them a 1 out of 10). But the appeal of their living space more than makes up for that.
Maree and James also installed a larger window, but they didn’t have it big enough – it’s too tall to be a bay window. Stacy and Adam (house four) haven’t changed the window at all, and their living space looks rather dark and somewhat secluded from the outside. Their choice of medium brown laminate wood flooring doesn’t help.
Quinn and Ben have opted for a very light, neutral rug in their living room and bedrooms, which won’t be very forgiving. Two of the other houses have heavily textured loop pile rugs in darker neutral tones for their bedrooms which seem more practical. Stacy and Adam stayed with wood floors throughout (with area rugs).
Chloe and Ben win the storage war. In addition to storage downstairs, they have bench seats in a child’s bedroom and in their mezzanine with storage below, and they also have storage in the attic with retractable staircase, and they have large, well-appointed cupboards.
Maree and James (house three) have a strange low closet in their living room that’s big enough to crawl into, but a good place for the kids’ suitcases or toys. They also have pull-out attic stairs and a very useful closet next to the front door.
Skylights make the difference
You cannot underestimate the amount of light that enters the rooms on the upper levels (bedrooms, bathrooms and mezzanine living rooms). Quinn and Ben have massive skylights throughout, including three in their loft living room and three in the family bathroom.
The other houses also have skylights in the bathrooms and the mezzanines. We went through an extremely wet and windy day, but we didn’t see any leaks. The homes each come with a 10-year construction warranty, which should give potential buyers confidence.
In fact, all of these homes are finished better than anything we’ve seen on the block before. But site manager Peter Wolfkamp does not let anything pass that is not perfectly finished.
Quinn and Ben have the largest second living room upstairs which is great for the kids. But all teams have created spaces that can be used for studying or watching TV. The family bathrooms open onto these spaces.
Bedrooms and bathrooms
These are uniformly well done and all rooms are larger than many we’ve seen before in the block. Chloe and Ben have attractive signs behind their beds. Everyone has nice sheets.
We were also surprised at the size of the bathrooms – they are not cramped rooms. They are a good size for a family and the bathrooms are a treat. We were particularly impressed with Chloe and Ben’s family bathroom with its freestanding sculptural tub.
Another highlight is Maree and James’ green tiling that leads the eye up to a skylight.
What price will they fetch?
Bidding will determine the value of each home taking into account fixtures and fittings. And the current market downturn will also be taken into consideration when setting reserves.
CoreLogic says the median property value in Orewa (generally unfurnished) currently sits at $1.29 million, down 2.7% from three months ago.
There are the latest open houses this weekend, hosted by the Ray White agents who market the properties, but pre-registration is essential. You can apply here.