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Exceeding expectations: DJ Hewitt Builders

A close collaboration between builder and designer created a home where every space suits the realities of family life.



James and Micayela Hunter have three daughters and their new St Albans home passed the ultimate functional test – a birthday sleepover for 10.

An architectural designer, James has worked with Daryl Hewitt of DJ Hewitt Builders for 15 years; their common bond being exceptional attention to detail.

Light, bright and open plan with a 2.7m stud, cedar fins greet at the front door. Past the wide entrance, office and separate lounge, American Oak fins also form the stairwell and partitioning to a cosy dining area – linking spaces with personality.

Doorways were intentionally kept to a minimum for easy-living flow between spaces. Adjacent to the living area and open-plan kitchen with a steel-framed island, a zigzag walkway leads to a private powder room, laundry and three-car garage.

It was an engineering design achievement for the 5.5m of timber fins connecting the second floor. The landing sports an extra-wide hallway for siblings to run past each other to the four bedrooms, hobby nook, and fully tiled bathroom.

“Daryl’s passion and enthusiasm for building is contagious, nothing is ever a problem and the quality of workmanship is exceptional!” Micayela says. “I am truly delighted.”

“It was a whole-team project – evereryone was so organised. It wasn’t at all stressful, and everything was finished a week ahead of schedule, giving us more time to move in.”


Happy homeowners: James and Micayela Hunter with their three daughters.

She’s enjoying her walk-in wardrobe with a light-filled picture window, and ensuite with a double shower and double sink.

The interior consultant, Daryl’s wife Tara, balanced monochromatic tones throughout, and chose a stunning textured-tile backdrop in the kitchen. “In the walk-in pantry she cleverly suggested a window between the bench and the shelves instead of a splashback.”

The 356sqm Rockcote-clad and standing seem steel home has PV solar panels, and underfloor heating. LowE glass and larger eaves keep heat out and warmth in, and foundation-ring insulation was another savvy cost-saving investment.

“It was an evolving project,” James says.

“Too many builds just keep to minimum standard. Everything exceeds minimum here – you have to love what you build!”




Let’s talk architectural builds: David Magill Builders

New landmarks are rising in central Christchurch on a satisfyingly regular basis and the latest building to catch our eye will break ground before Christmas.



Built by David Magill Builders, this three-story home on the corner of Cranmer Square and Chester Street West will be a milestone on your journey north across the city, planting its roots and taking its place in the 170-year history of Cranmer Square.

In fact, we can look forward to a long future association with this home – its foundation comprises piling down to 16 metres, with a raft floor laid on top of that, and a comprehensive structural steel superstructure by Blueprint Consulting Engineers. The striking silhouette created by the semi-rooved deck on the top floor is complemented by the unusual charred cedar cladding. Originally a Japanese technique, the charring is done by Christchurch-based company Chartek. Once sealed the blackened wood weathers, but does not require the maintenance that ordinary cedar does.


The owners of the home are current inner-city dwellers who are keen supporters of a thriving centre and love the CBD lifestyle. Architect Kelly Rush of Krush Architecture has designed a clever home where owners and guests can operate independently if they choose.

The top floor hosts the master bed, ensuite and wardrobe and opens out to the partly covered deck. The middle floor contains the kitchen, lounge and living area plus another deck, while the ground floor is dedicated to three bedrooms, each with their own bathroom.

Director of David Magill Craig Freeman says completing this home will take 12 months, as it’s an interesting design located in a busy area which impacts on access. “This build is right in our ball park – all of our buildings have a degree of difficulty, whether that be design, location, client, or sometimes all three, and we are very comfortable with that.”


Craig assumed ownership of the company on the retirement of David Magill in 2016. Dedicated to continuing the values that David instilled in him and the rest of the team, Craig says, “Everyone has been together for a long time, including our subcontractors. The mission has always been to be well-respected among our peers, and we are so proud that no-one ever has a bad word to say about us.”

Craig brings a unique and desirable skill set to his role. In a previous life he served the country in the New Zealand Army. Discipline in all areas is innate to his approach, while communication with people is a real strength. “I can talk with anyone, and zero in on what is important to them.”

His training brings an incredibly valuable agility to a project. “We are not stuck in any comfort zone or set routine, so we react quickly and positively to any road block.”


Craig places a lot of emphasis on being proactive, rather than reactive. “It buys us a lot of time.”

Every job is worked on by in-house carpenters. “It is vital that their trade and craftsmanship is top notch”. The company works with contactors that they have had a relationship with for several years. “I went through my apprenticeship with a lot of the people who are now leading the companies that we work with,” Craig says.

David Magill Builders happily runs a gamut of homes from $2 million to first home and retirement homes, with five house and land packages becoming available at Ravenswood for $500k, and an entry-level show home at Ravenswood open next year. “What our clients have in common is that they want well-designed, bespoke and interesting homes but with value for money. They seek top-quality products but not necessarily the designer label on them,” Craig says. “And you shouldn’t have to compromise on your quality, your tradespeople, design or the interest on a modest budget.”


Driven by a determination to do a good job and honour all promises made to clients, Craig cannot understand why anyone would take the ‘over-promise under-deliver’ approach. He ensures his team go out of their way to hit targets and do a great job. “Regardless of size or price, in 20-50 years, I want people to say ‘who built this incredibly well-constructed home?’”





Exceptional 1900s villa restoration: Nathan Cook Builders

For nearly 20 years, Nathan Cook has been building, repairing and renovating homes in Canterbury and beyond.




His company, Nathan Cook Builders, has a reputation for its expertise in architectural builds, light commercial construction, and renovation of both modern and historic homes. Nathan’s qualified and skilled team has a wealth of experience that ensures quality workmanship and the satisfaction of exceptional customer service.

From barn conversions, decks, outdoor fireplaces, fencing and gates to an architecturally designed country home taking advantage of spectacular views of the Southern Alps, and the challenge of earthquake repairs to adjoining units in South New Brighton; Nathan Cook Builders has hundreds of satisfied clients.

Its latest challenge was an early 1900s villa in Opawa. After complicated negotiations with EQC and insurers, work began on the complex restoration. The house was lifted and new foundations were laid. Inside, many of the original fireplaces, pedestal sinks, stained glass windows, light fittings and rimu floors were retained.

A brand new feature staircase was installed, as was a new designer kitchen by Woodshack Kitchens in keeping with the period of the house. The entry and hallway were returned to the original style, and an antique, claw-footed bathtub was added to the bathroom.

The roof and chimneys were newly tiled, and original tiles were re-laid around the fireplaces. A single garage was demolished, and a two-storied garage with separate laundry and loft space was built. A new master suite within the existing roof space was constructed, and a dormer added.

After nearly two years, this lovingly restored villa is again ready to be occupied.

Visit or call 03 347 7356.




Creating architectural impact: David Magill Builders

Building your new lifestyle has never been easier when engaging premier architectural building firm David Magill Builders. The name has been a fixture in the residential Canterbury and South Island market for more than 35 years, and continues to thrive in an ever-challenging industry.



It is one thing to be skilled at building well-designed homes, but to be the go-to architectural builders in Christchurch takes a talented team of experienced and knowledgeable builders. “We are seeing the market continue to change, with a move away from the quarter-acre family plot to more lifestyle-driven living that offers individuality and easy care, yet still demands the welcoming feel of a traditional home,” says Director Craig Freeman. “Finding the balance of modern architecture and functional design with any family home takes years of knowledge and expertise – and that’s where we know how to get it right 100 percent.”

Elegant and architecturally designed homes do not need to be created at the cost of everyday function and practicability. Building your home is all about having a home that works with your lifestyle.


“If a build design happens to be outside the norm, it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable to live in. We love problem solving, and we are always excited to work with complex, intelligent technical builds, even those on the hill,” he says. Not being a one-size-fits- all company, nor a volume builder, each architecturally designed home is an extremely personal experience. Every element of the design is planned in-depth to create the highest quality finish possible, not forgetting the finer touches.

“What many of our clients say about working alongside us is that we take the time to listen; we produce homes with well thought-out designs and grow real transparent relationships with them. It is so much more than just securing your job – its validating daily why you have made the right decision in choosing award-winning David Magill for your build,” Craig says. “We take ownership of the process from start to completion!”


Often the building experience can be uncertain, complex, frustrating, risky and downright overwhelming for some people. “We ensure the build experience and your experience with us is a safe and comfortable experience,” he says. No matter the scope of the build, all homes built with David Magill are given the same care and attention to detail.

“We can build from concept plans but also have a range of design choices available as a starting point if required,” says Craig, “Our eight-step process assures that every home is finished to the highest standard, on time and within budget. We are always looking for the latest in technological advancements and product choices that benefit and add value. Being a member of the Registered Master Builders Federation is a further guarantee of our authenticity as a company you would want to do business with.”



The ‘extended family’ network includes real estate agents, architects, engineers, surveyors, subtrades and suppliers who align with the same values-driven approach. An inhouse Quantity Surveyor to number crunch ensures clients get the best value for money.

Why should you do business with David Magill Builders? “We solve problems successfully; our professionalism, credibility and expertise enable us to find solutions that everyone is happy with.”

To view a spectrum of beautifully crafted homes that have catered to the site’s characteristics and everyone’s unique desires, visit