Linda and Justin had already tried a number of builds and kitset options, including getting as far as the consent stage on one of these attempts. Disappointingly, after 20 years, they still didn’t have their dreamed-about brand new build to call home.
Not prepared to give up, their focus next shifted to prefabricated homes, though they weren’t entirely happy with that option. To Linda, prefabricated meant small and maybe too economical on the quality of products inside.
Nonetheless, when a friend suggested Able Spaces new portable homes, Linda wanted to learn more. She spoke with Norma who suggested arranging a time to take a look onsite. She also told Linda of a house near Able Spaces they could drive by to view from the street any time. From what they could see, this looked like a good option – the home looked about the right size to be transported to their very tight site. Norma suggested they split the house in two if access was a problem. This surprised Linda, as other transportable home companies had suggested this option “wasn’t something they would normally do”, and instead would mean a re-engineering of a house plan at possibly an extra cost.
As it turned out, access was tight, as Linda expected, but that wasn’t a problem, with the home delivered on two separate trailers. Besides a central beam in the lounge there is nothing noticeable in the rest of the house. While standard sizing was 12m long, the Southams wanted slightly more room in their living area, so their home was simply extended to a 13m long home to accommodate this. “Norma gave us options of who to use for transport providers and we went for a local company who were excellent.”
Linda found Norma easy to talk to and added, “She knows the business so well. She didn’t try to upsell us. We had dealt with a couple of other companies who didn’t listen to what we wanted and wanted to give us what they could provide instead – which was more costly, two sizes bigger than what we needed or more elaborate. Norma really listened to what we wanted and she was knowledgeable. She reassured us she could deliver what we wanted in a set time, and splitting the house was not a problem. Norma and her moving company were both quite willing to negotiate with us on what could be done – and were much more open than some of the other companies we had dealt with.”
Having lived previously in a single glazed home without proper insulation in Newlands, it had taken a toll on Linda’s health. The structure of their new home and it being healthy and warm was important. They were also keen to start the build as soon as possible to be in their new home before the coming winter. “The fact that we could get the house built so quickly was such an advantage over the long-term issues we’d had. Our need at this stage was pressing,” said Linda, “We had been waiting 20 years to have a purpose-built house, and to finally get a home to suit us both. We weren’t willing to compromise. We wanted the house built. The contract period was from 30 March 2023 to 30 July 2023 and we got our new home in July.”
Cost was another consideration. Covid created delays and rising costs in transport and materials. Able Spaces was local, saving on transport costs and, with their affordable, prefabricated option, it was appealing.
Norma told the Southams it was entirely up to them how much they wanted to spend. They had the option of the base model, or they could upgrade to their heart’s content. Justin and Linda wanted to be able to customise their home and they found Norma “perfectly accommodating”. If they found something she couldn’t get from her suppliers, they would source it and Norma would find it for them. Norma also had her own kitchen designer customise the height of their benchtops to suit their tall statures.
Being on water tanks, all tapwear and plumbing needed to be able to cope with a mixed level water supply, able to take both low and normal pressure. This was also easily accommodated.
Linda found the interior designer’s service and suggestions very helpful. As a complimentary service and part of the contract, Linda felt this was an added bonus, where someone experienced and more knowledgeable could help rein in some of her own “overly enthusiastic” interior design ideas.
The road to their new home had been long. Before Able Spaces, the Southams had potential contracts underway with other companies which had not eventuated for different reasons. The first home they planned on building was a pre-insulated stone home but the company went into receivership so that didn’t get past the planning stage.
The second time they went for a prefabricated concrete slab build but had a terrible experience with the company not listening to what they wanted. Every time they went back to review the plans there was something different added to it making the build more expensive.
The third home they tried to build was by getting a plan drawn up with an architect. This time, the architectural firm lost all their final stage documentation, supplying them with what they insisted were the most recent plans, but which were in fact a year old. The Southams terminated that contract.
The next contract they entered into, with a South Island based timber kitset company, had almost been at the production stage, when it was interrupted by the complications of Covid – first delays due to lockdowns, then the resultant price rises. The cost of timber alone had tripled, transport costs kept escalating, and then the building consent period lapsed. Additional complications with delayed building materials and shortages, including delivery to site, made this another false start for Linda and Justin.
Linda summed up, “Working with Able Spaces was so simplistic by comparison. They showed a willingness to navigate challenges and accommodate our needs, where others couldn’t.”
The Biggest Benefit in Working with Able Spaces?
Linda didn’t hesitate to answer, “Norma. She was really great at following through if I had a message or an email. Mostly we messaged by text as she always had her phone on her, so it was the most efficient mode of contact. If she saw she had missed a call, she would ring me when she was free. She always took note, and if she had any issues she would ring me back and we would talk about it. The communication was always open and she let us know if she had any concerns. For example, if we wanted something sourced, she would say I’m not sure if we can get that, but I’ll enquire. She would always give us other options if we couldn’t get what we wanted. She would give us three other options and ask if we would like one of those options, or would we like to source something somewhere else? Then she would negotiate with the supplier and she would sort it out for us.
“And her knowledge too – she knows this stuff inside out. We asked for a product on the façade of our house that Able Spaces hadn’t used before, so she went out of her way to discover if it was a good product she would use and even onsell to other clients. It turned out it was, so we were happy we got our spruce board outside that runs vertically around all the façade of our house (except for the corrugated detail).
“There were all these different types of materials and options but we wanted to know if we could have a spruce product which had natural oil-based stain to colour it and protect it from weather, which we’d read about. The oil stain was New Zealand produced, while the exterior wood is sourced from a sustainable European spruce forest. We wanted products that didn’t do any harm. We are living on a lifestyle property so we wanted a product that would be more in keeping with living on farmland.
“We also didn’t want a dark house. We wanted paler wood but we didn’t want pine. Norma went out of her way to customise it for us. And we were so appreciative of that. In the end, there was an issue sourcing the wood stain, but Norma managed to find a replacement for this.
“We are not accustomed to this amount of warmth in a home. It’s fully insulated with double glazing and we have great views on all sides,” said Linda, who added, “They were very accommodating too. Justin was fascinated by the process and we visited the site a lot. We went to Able Spaces regularly on Fridays between 12.30 and 1.30 (during their lunch break) and it wasn’t a problem. As our home was built inside the Able Spaces workshop, you don’t see it in a bright light but now we’re on site in Pukerua Bay, our home is filled with light just about everywhere.”
We Recommend Able Spaces
“We’ve recommended Able Spaces to anyone who’s interested in having a house built and moved to site. We’ve got neighbours looking at putting another building on their property. We’ve also got friends who realise how positive a process it is, to get a fully kitted-out house delivered to site, and plugged in, and personalised for your needs.
“We have black tapware for instance, and ‘decorative’ vinyl in our wet areas – those kinds of things. We were able to make adjustments to our hallway and wardrobes to suit our personal needs, and had our own light fittings installed (which had been bought for our previous, kitset, build). Finishing off the interior once the house parts were reconnected, onsite, was also supplied as part of our build contract.
“I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more relaxed than now. It’s just like a little haven here, and we are both so happy with our Able Spaces home,” summed up Linda.