Like the Mark II Zephyr, L&P and a good pair of jandals, the New Zealand state house is a Kiwi design classic.
Often easy to spot, the archetypal state house is a three-bedroom, timber frame, weatherboard clad bungalow, with a tight pitched roof, on a quarter acre section. But according to Housing New Zealand, there were actually more than 400 plans drawn up in 1935. No two houses were meant to be exactly the same.
One thing all those early homes do have in common is “good bones”. They were built to last out of decent materials, solid and dependable. They pop up in the listings from time to time, often having been extensively remodelled or even given a whole new architectural life. A 30s or 40s built former state house that’s been sensitively modernised is likely to be a seriously good buy.
Here’s our pick of former state houses on the market right now:
* Government announces end to state house selloff
* Million-dollar state houses provoke Auckland v London housing comparisons
* Former state houses with panache
* One state house’s architectural transformation
* Designer’s own: Former state house rebuild is up for Best Design Award
68 Molesworth Street, Taita, Lower Hutt
1947 was a boom time for state housing, especially in Taita. After the war a lot of returned servicemen and their families were housed in barracks at Trentham. When the new-ish state house area of Taita became available, many of them moved there with their young families (my Nana and Grandad were among them) and turned Taita into a model suburb of Lower Hutt City.
This particular home may have been home to a returned serviceman and his family too, although they might not recognise the bright, modern home that property investors Illam Limited have turned it into today.
“To be fair 12 months ago it was not in good shape, but like most state houses in NZ were built extremely well, with good bones,” says realtor Eugene Winterburn of The Professionals.
“The current owners have spent a lot of time and money renovating the home back to life and it’s come up beautifully well, in particular the gorgeous wooden floors which are common in HNZ homes.”
Those floors are likely matai wood. Other original features include some internal doors, a glass-panelled back door, and a frankly massive section that’s just calling out for some landscaping and maybe a pergola or garden room.
Inside, there’s a new kitchen and bathroom, and the walls are a fresh, crisp white.
Winterburn says the house is currently under offer but we reckon it doesn’t hurt to have a look.
15 Melvill Grove, Waterloo, Lower Hutt
Built in the mid to late 1940s, this three-bedroom home is in need of a little TLC, but there’s something so charming about its chubby proportions and rustic garden.
Property in this area of the Hutt is in hot demand – it’s just a short walk to the Waterloo shops, Waterloo Train Station and some of the best primary schools in the valley.
The section isn’t too large, but there’s enough room for the kids to run about and the dining/living room has French doors that open onto a sunny deck area, a later addition to this brick home.
It hasn’t lost all it’s war time charms, however. Original features include a buff-coloured tile fireplace, wooden framed windows and original internal doors with an interior designer’s dream: chrome and bakelite door knobs.
There’s also a separate garage, decent sized garden, and as if this pad couldn’t be more Kiwi, a lush mature cabbage tree in the large front garden.
It all adds up to Melvill Grove being an adorable home in a coveted location, bursting with potential.
7 Milne Crescent, Taita, Lower Hutt
The quarter acre dream is alive and well at number 7. This section measures 717sqm, sprawling both in front of and behind the home where there’s a small deck area.
The house itself is brick and has three large double bedrooms and one single, a heat pump, a fresh lick of paint throughout and those gorgeous, glowing matai floors in the kitchen and dining area.
The counters in the kitchen could do with a bit of a spruce up, but it still has built-in cabinets like the ones my nana use to let me sit on while she did her Sunday afternoon baking. Also still extant are the dowel and panel ceilings and wood framed windows.
In the back yard there’s a patio and barbecue area, and a large garage with workshop.
There’s a lot of potential for a family here.
45 Roberts St, Epuni, Lower Hutt
There are renos and there are renos, and then there’s 45 Roberts St. What a home.
Although, Housing New Zealand couldn’t absolutely confirm this one was a state house, it has all the hallmarks.
Built in 1948, this Kiwi classic has been brought roaring into 2019 with a considerate, sympathetic renovation that makes the most of the home’s original features – such as the original internal doors, with a modern sensibility.
As family homes go, you couldn’t want much more – four bedrooms, lots of light, and your outdoor seating area is even set up to provide your living space with a little privacy from the two-storey home behind.
Inside the decoration has been kept understated and chic, ready for you to put your own mark on.
It really is one a very considered, stylish renovation which makes the most of a typical state house’s great bones.
16b Macky St, Taita, Lower Hutt
HNZ says this Taita home was “likely owned at some stage by HNZ”. It definitely has a similar plan to the state house I grew up in, so naturally, it’s my favourite on this list.
The home has been extensively renovated since it was built in 1946, and they’ve done a sensational job, especially with the fire, which has been given a vintage cast iron wood burner that compliments the monochrome decor perfectly.
A modern kitchen diner, which opens onto a cute little bijou deck – a later addition – gives the home a town house feel, although it’s in the quiet, drowsy suburbs, so you get the best of both worlds there.
It looks like the section may have been subdivided at some time in the 80s, so the garden is small. The subdivision has been carefully managed, however, so there’s no shared access – no neighbours strolling past your living room on the way down the drive to their place as sometimes happens.
While the matai floors have been covered up in this one, I spy with my interior design eye those black Bakelite door handles that I adore, and a large separate washhouse/mudroom, a must for a family with young people.