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Two former Gore High schoolmates represent Queenstown in this month’s Master Builders’ House of the Year Awards.

There’s local David Reid Homes franchisee Mark Tutty, whose Kelvin Heights showhome won the southern region House of the Year in June, as well as topping three categories.

And there’s Trevor Meikle, senior project manager for Rilean Construction, which won the tourist category and the overall southern region commercial award for its $13.5 million extension to the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside hotel.

Both men, who played rugby together at school, are stoked to be among 100 finalists for the awards night in Auckland on November 28.

Tutty, who’s one of only two Otago-Southland residential builders in the finals, suggests it’s his showhome’s attention to energy efficiency that will have most impressed judges – it won the energy efficiency, future-proof building and showhome categories in the southern awards.

People nowadays, he says, aren’t afraid to spend more on glazing, fibreglass insulation and solar hot water to save on power bills down the line – and and to help subsequent resale prospects later on.

Tutty points out David Reid Homes uses an energy-efficiency checklist called “Right House” that’s been shown in Auckland to add 15 per cent to a home’s sale price.

“At the top end of the market, people are more conscious of heating costs, especially in this area.”

David Reid Homes, he explains, specialises in the middle to upper end of the market and is the only home-group building company in Queenstown – out of about 13 – doing custom-built houses.

Tutty says his open homes, each Sunday from 1-3pm, often attract 40 to 50 people – “probably half are getting ideas for their own homes”.

“Most people are taken aback by just the openness and roominess of it, and the fantastic views.

“It’s enabled us to showcase our product as well as build a home for ourselves with a view to obviously flicking it on and building another showhome.”

Currently, the Tutty showhome is on the market for $1.95m.

Meanwhile, Rilean’s Trevor Meikle thinks his company’s Novotel contract made the top 100 because it was such a tricky construction job.

To add an extra floor onto the hotel, a full scaffold with a metal roof and plastic sides was erected – “it was a huge cost but the only way to do it”.

Integrating a new structure with an existing building also had its challenges, and there were access issues too – “it was pretty trick cranage to put sun shades on the Horne Creek end”.

Perhaps the most challenging issue was working while the hotel was fully-functioning.

“We had to watch things like noise, radios and language – the builders had to bite their tongues at times.”

The Wakatipu’s last success at the House of the Year Awards was two years ago when Arrowtown builder Allister Saville took out national titles for homes over $1m and for energy efficiency for a $3m home at Millbrook.