Case study – Heathcote

Home by Christmas

Moving from the North Island to the South Island is sure to present its own set of logistical challenges at the best of times. Throw into the mix then, building a house in Christchurch while still located in Hamilton, with a fixed date to move-in before Christmas – during a global pandemic and lockdown – and you have something else entirely! For John and Di, these were the circumstances. Read on to find out how it went, as well as an altogether interesting recount of what it’s like to build a new home with Fraemohs.


Galley kitchen with polished concrete floor

“We’ve known of Fraemohs for a long time – firstly from my time at the Forest Research Institute back in the 1970’s where I’d encountered solid timber Fraemohs backcountry huts. More recently my sister had built a Fraemohs ‘Timbermode’ home here in Christchurch four years ago, and had had a very good experience. We’d also taken a look through a friend’s Fraemohs on Monck’s Spur – they were really happy with theirs and we liked the design a lot.”

– John and Di, Heathcote

Managing design specifications and geographical challenges

“We looked at a couple of other companies when we were beginning our search for a building partner. But we’d seen the ‘Nikau’ design, liked it, and knowing what we knew about Fraemohs, we were able to make up our mind easily. The design process was pretty smooth really. Because of the covenant over the land we are on, we needed a home with ‘architectural merit’. And because of our own preference for passive design with an extra high level of insulation, we thought it might have been tricky to get developer sign-off. It wasn’t though – Shirley, who was handling our enquiry managed both our own requirements and those of the developer’s really well. We made a few changes to the design which initially came in a little over budget, so we brought those back to arrive at a design we were – and are – really happy with.

Because we were living in Hamilton throughout the entire process, everything was done by email, over the phone, with regular photo updates and during the occasional quick trip down to Christchurch. It would have been easier if we were closer to the build physically, but we couldn’t do anything about that and felt like we were in safe hands the whole time.”




Master bedroom with ensuite

Enter COVID lockdown..

“As the start date for the build coincided with the start of the COVID lockdown, we had assumed the move-in date would need to be pushed back. We didn’t want to rush Fraemohs which might have compromised the quality. Somehow though, they still hit the original completion target and in the end the only thing that delayed our move south was a storm in Cook Strait which disrupted ferry sailings to the South Island. We’d arranged for the settlement date of our home in Hamilton to line up with the estimated move-in date for our new home in Heathcote. Because everything was completed on time, we didn’t have to rent another home while we waited to move in – the timing worked out perfectly.”






Thoughts overall?

“Overall, the build has really impressed us. There were a couple of minor things that didn’t work out quite as expected, and Fraemohs has been really on board with helping us to iron these out. The project management has been excellent as has been the work done by the various sub contractors. Jason, the project manager, added a lot of extra valuable input to our build with his attention to detail, and this has improved the finished look of our home.”






“We’ve been living in our new home for two weeks now and absolutely love it. It has a very stable temperature to it and over the summer we intend installing shade cloth on the pergola to better control the heat capture on sunny days. When we set out we wanted a clean, simple design, high on functionality and thermal efficiency. We certainly got that, and are thrilled with the quality of the workmanship. The process was great, the house is great and we’re genuinely happy that we built our home with Fraemohs.”


This is a custom designed home based on our ‘Nikau’ design, built in our Timbermode style.

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