Overlooking the Clutha

June 17, 2021

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It’s another world inside Sue and Scott’s* new Breen home at Tarras - influenced by an old gold miner’s cottage, but on a much larger scale. There are surprises around every corner, including the large internal schist stone wall and the hidden linen cupboard, cleverly disguised by American Ash wall panelling.

This is the couple’s second Breen home and when they decided to move from Springvale to Tarras, the barn that keeps all their outdoor gear grew in size, and the footprint of the house became smaller.

When a horse lover meets a multi sporter there is bound to be lots of equipment involved - kayaks and bikes, skis and snowshoes, a tack cupboard, as well as solarium lights to warm the horses after a big day riding in the hills.

And enclosing this large space are several cedar and steel hinged doors with custom latches - all made in the Breen Alexandra workshop. This strong and sturdy barn structure has also been built in such a way that a mezzanine floor can be added as well.

The barn is the first thing you see at their property, and the couple like it like that because it shields what lies ahead - and also gives them privacy. “The barn in front of the house doesn’t look like someone is living there, which is what we wanted,” Scott explained.

Their new home is built using Cluden Quarry schist mixed with Hyde stone, and what catches the eye are the recycled Australian Hardwood lintels. - sourced locally from Ironwood Recycled Timbers in Earnscleugh. The old hardwood beams were once used on a bridge on the South Island’s West Coast - and now given new life on their rural property off Maori Point Road.

“I like to use local materials and stuff that doesn’t need a lot of care,” Scott said.

You can’t go past the Neolith ‘sintered stone’ bench top without running your fingers over it.   With its metallic finish it almost looks like metal, but the texture is leathery and has a real warmth to it, unlike other bench tops.  “It is robust and strong and it looks bulletproof,” Scott said.

Imported directly from Europe, Neolith is a revolutionary product that is super strong - resulting in a scratch, stain and heat-resistant surface.  “You can put anything hot directly onto it as the product can withstand temperatures well in excess of 600 degrees Celsius - way hotter than anything you will ever have in your kitchen."

The door frames have acid washed lintels that, together with the Corten steel painted brick wall in the garage, give it that ‘straight from the workshop’ look.

Vintage French Oak flooring throughout the lounge and dining area lead in two directions towards near matching bathrooms, except for their tiles that demand attention. Scott has a business background in ceramics so there is no scrimping on quality, with a mixture of smaller 20x20cm porcelain tiles matched to accent the main 120x60cm ones.

Sue can look out at the view through the large sliding window in the bathroom, with her horses literally poking their noses over the gatepost half a metre away. The new property on 12ha of land meets her riding needs far better than their Springvale property, and for Scott with his adventure racing, it’s all about the land and the mountains. Overlooking the Clutha River and with the Pisa Range behind, the landscape is constantly changing, and the nearby rapids below the house are a welcome sound within this rural retreat.

“I love making a house that reflects the property. I always look at the land first and the view and the environment I like to live in,” Scott said.

And when the Breenhomes team came in to construct their house, there were inspiring challenges around every corner. Project Manager Steve Fahey said there was a lot of detail around planning how to integrate all of the different wall linings, including where the internal schist wall meets the floor. One of the biggest challenges was having to crane in the heavy Australian Hardwood beams for the outside lintels, as well as the sequencing of all the different materials in the internal fit out.

Foreman Sam Sole said he was pretty excited to be involved with this build when he first arrived on site. He said because the horses needed a home ASAP, the stables were the first structure to build, and the extra-large hinged cedar doors were the biggest challenge.

“They are very large and heavy so everything had to be custom designed and made, or specially sourced - which takes time and effort.”

Sam said the large stone hearth around the fireplace inside the house was another interesting job. “From craning the 1.2 tonne stone off the truck to the front door, trimming it to size and then rolling and positioning it inside without damaging it, was definitely exciting.”

Scott’s testimonial:

“I would sum up our experience of working with Breenhomes in three words - Accurate, Professional and Enjoyable.

Accurate - I use this word instead of reliable because it means so much more when you are trusting your vision and your finances with a company to build what in most cases is the largest personal project most people will undertake. Breenhomes were accurate in transcribing my design into working drawings. They were accurate in their costing of all facets of what was a complex build in terms of detail and materials. Most importantly they were totally accurate in delivering a home that was exactly as I had envisioned.

Professional – Breenhomes were professional in every aspect of the design and build. They worked to the highest quality at every level, on site health and safety, delivering solutions throughout the build where required, only using sub-contractors who worked to the same high standards, continual high level of communication so we knew constantly the state of the build, and perhaps most importantly had us, as the client, at the centre of every decision. 

Enjoyable - It is always enjoyable finally stepping inside your new home. However, our enjoyment was constant right through the build. Not only are Steve and Sam customer-centric in the way they manage and build but they built like it was their own home. They care. So, this makes the whole process really enjoyable because it feels like the whole team at Breen is behind your project. Fantastic.”


*last name removed for privacy


Project Manager: Steve Fahey
Designer: Michelle Keimig
Foreman: Sam Sole
Quantity Surveyor: Ross Calder
Builders: Bryce Dewe, Louis Bright, Andrew Read.
Sales: Melinda Tweedie

Written by: Miss Wordsmith - Aimee Wilson

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