Quake house’s new life

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The Christchurch earthquakes have helped a family realise their dream of owning an old home in the Queenstown countryside. 

Local businessman Dave Matthews found a quake-damaged six-bedroom villa in Christchurch that’s been transported to his Speargrass Flat Road section. 

“We wanted an old house in Queenstown. There were a few in the Queenstown centre but to find one in the country was too difficult so the next step was to buy one in Christchurch.” 

Matthews’ ‘new’ home is a villa originally built in the Christ­church suburb of Merivale in 1907. 

Ten years ago, a new owner transported it to the Christchurch suburb of Halswell and converted the loft into rooms. 

However, the house was badly damaged in the first Christchurch quake in September 2010. 

It was then damaged again in the devastating February 2011 quake – this time beyond economical repair based on Christchurch values. 

Matthews says the owner intended bowling it but instead listed it for removal on Trade Me. 

Matthews bought it from Laing Homes, which buys and sells homes for relocation. 

Laing contracted Kings House Removals to shift the house to Queenstown. 

The 370sq m house was moved in four sections from late March – the downstairs area, in two halves, then the roof and finally the laundry. 

It’s understood the house is the biggest Kings has ever moved. 

Matthews says when he bought his half-hectare section last summer it had an old 80sq m house on it. 

That house in turn was snapped up by someone who relocated it to Gibbston. 

Matthews has spent $350,000-$400,000 renovating the Christchurch villa, he says. 

“It was a train wreck – the curtains were falling out the windows, there was a lot of damage.” 

A new kitchen and bathrooms were installed, together with diesel central heating. Damaged skirtings also had to be replaced. 

Carpets and hardboard flooring were ripped up and replaced with reclaimed rimu floorboards, also sourced from Christchurch. 

“In terms of pricing, it wouldn’t have been that much different to build a house by the time we paid for the moving and all the refurbishment,” Matthews admits. 

“I think we’ve done so much work to it that it’s going to be there for years to come. 

“It’s got great character, high ceilings, all the original features,” he says. 

Matthews says the villa, supported by 120 wooden piles, also sits well on the section. 

“It’s a very well-established section and it’s got Mill Creek running through it so it does look good.”