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Let’s talk design & build: David Magill Builders

If great leadership is defined by vision, passion and enjoying challenges, then David Magill Builders is led by one of the best.



Owner Craig Freeman has risen to the top of his game through service to the New Zealand Defence Force, as an apprentice then as a Licenced Building Practitioner working for David Magill himself.

David’s retirement in 2016 opened the door for Craig to purchase the company.

“Over the years, I saw the respect granted to David Magill by his peers.

I resolved to achieve the same,” Craig says.

“I quickly realised that central to winning and retaining respect is placing the highest premiums on integrity, transparency and your word. I want to combine the traditions and values that have made the David Magill brand solid for 35 years and bring my own future vision to the table.”

At David Magill Builders, the ‘win point’ of any build is never at the signing of the initial client agreement, but rather at the end of the build experience itself.

“What we do at David Magill is we patiently listen and value our client’s opinion, and place a great emphasis on thought before action. Through careful listening we are able to translate a sometimes amorphous description into the finished product they envisaged.”

Thriving on challenging projects and great at problem solving, the company doesn’t operate from a template.

The approach is always openness to the client and to the project, as well as great flexibility.

“We’ve found that no build is the same and we have never built the same house twice,” Craig says.

“The success of the David Magill name is a result of a tightly knit team of people and an outer circle of trusted trades, some of which have remained loyal for two generations and align with our values.”

The variety and scope of work undertaken does not just end at residential but boasts a portfolio of multi-level apartment blocks, office space, preschools, light commercial to lifestyle semi-attached living.

Excelling at working with passionate homeowners on unique homes, the design and build of an art deco home in Perth Street has been a special project for Craig.

The company stepped in after the owner and existing builder had hit a stalemate; the owner low in spirit.

Always valuing transparency, Craig asked the builders if David Magill Builders could take over and this little jewel of a property was on its way to polished perfection.

A series of adjustments led to the design achieving consent and a quick turnaround of the whole project led to an excited owner and a fabulous house.

“The project is memorable as a series of small victories. We listened to the client, won his trust and resolved all the conflicts.”

With art deco homes becoming scarce, it was vital to retain the unique features, feel and character but utilising modern building techniques, creative thinking and design innovation.

Clever fibreglass roofing fits the representative curves of the facade. And Perth Street is just one of many dreams realised, built by the man with his feet firmly on the ground.


Secluded Beauty

An iconic build, which also blends naturally into the secluded Banks Peninsula site, was the creative challenge presented to award-winning Architect Tim Nees.



“The brief was for an informal weekend retreat, to eventually become their retirement home,” he says.

“It was designed not only for the look, but to take advantage of water views and hillside vistas on each side, while letting in light and breezes.”

Self-sustaining and completely off the grid, with two water-collection tanks, the surrounding four hectares was once part of an old farm.

“It has been left by the clients to ‘re-wild’ itself,” says Tim, who recently designed his own unique seaside escape.

“The clients were really happy, saying it was like a work of art – and beyond beautiful! It almost feels like an architectural tramping hut to me.”

The saw-tooth roof, painted heritage red, has its highest points facing the east to catch the morning sun.

Two bedrooms on either end and a cosy nook up a few steps surround the open-plan high-stud living areas.


A purposeful mix of non-treated timber features throughout the 172 square metre interior including exposed beams of macrocarpa and Douglas fir, a well-oiled plywood floor and walls lined with birch plywood.

A solid-timber kitchen bench top was sourced by the clients. The deck of purple heart, like the larch cladding, was left to silver over time.

Huntley Quinn was our builder,” Tim says.

“He was exceptional at thinking through the challenging strategy of working in a remote location, and very organised and honest. The communication was great, which was very important.”

The award-winning construction firm hired a bach about 15 minutes away, where his crew of six stay during the week.

As a second-generation builder and Project Manager for 29 years, Huntley also spent a day or two each week on the tools.

Completed last year, Huntley says it was quite a technical build with a lot of joinery, complex roof and an elevated subfloor.

“Logistically it was a challenge, but enjoyable and rewarding – especially with building through all four seasons, from scorching heat to snow.

We achieved the right balance of design to budget through a very close collaboration between architect, builder and client.”



Jim the Builder

Construction from go to Whoa! Jim the Builder

From initial concept designs, right through to handing over the keys to new homeowners, the highly skilled team at Jim the Builder takes pride in overseeing every stage of its projects.


Jim the Builder



Whether it’s a new build, earthquake repairs, or large-scale alterations, the friendly, professional staff will be with you every step of the way. This helps with continuity, quality, and communication, says Managing Director, Andrew Clark. “We’re old-school carpenters as far as builders go. We do everything from putting up roofs to installing windows,” he says.

“We don’t subcontract out; our staff are employees, so that helps us maintain delivery of product, makes sure the job’s on time, as well as being able to maintain quality throughout. We stay on jobs from go to whoa.” Project Managers are experienced at liaising with clients and the foreman and, because a lot of their work involves earthquake renovations and repairs, they will assist people with insurance wrangles, ensuring all work is compliance-based.


Jim the Builder


Established in 2005 by Operational Director Jim Stenberg, Jim the Builder has been recognised in numerous local and national awards for building excellence. As a registered Master Builder, the team passionately produces homes with the highest standards of design, craftsmanship and attention to detail. “We’ll tailor to any budget and we do a lot of higher-spec properties, which the guys love because it allows them to showcase their skills.”

The company also completes hillside work, which Andrew describes as very challenging. Jim the Builder has a booming apprentice programme and ensures all staff are put through different levels of Site Safe courses and first-aid training. “Health and Safety is a big part of our business,” Andrew says.


Jim the Builder

“We’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into health and safety, and we have an in-house health and safety manager who is responsible for maintaining all the paperwork and does on-site inspections.  “We also have regular barbecues where we bring in specialist speakers. For example, we brought in Wormald to make sure staff knew how to use a fire extinguisher; and others to teach them how to safely use tools.”

All this makes for a tight-knit team of skilled builders and staff, dedicated to delivering homes of the highest standard. “We’re committed to quality delivery and communication is a big part of what we do,” Andrew says.
“We’ll always put the client first in all decisions and our foremen have become very highly skilled, that’s for sure.”


Jim the Builder

So, if you’re thinking of renovating, or undertaking an exciting new building project this year, jump onto Jim the Builder’s website to read case studies on its award-winning buildings and to find out how the team can help achieve your dream home.


Keane Building

Punching above its weight: Keane Building

A stunning combination of contemporary style and rural charm was used to create one of the 2018 top 100 homes in New Zealand – designed and constructed by Keane Building.


Keane Building


Nestled in North Canterbury, the L-shaped, barn-style abode won Gold at the recent Canterbury Master Builders House of the Year awards, in the up to $450,000 category. Described by judges as a ‘family home punching above its weight’ and ‘oozing style,’ it has also been named a Gold Reserve finalist for the national awards in November – representing the top 100 entrants from across the country.

Chris Keane established Keane Building in 2009, after completing his apprenticeship with his father, a local builder who serviced the Hurunui district for more then 30 years. The depth of experience and knowledge he gained during this time has proven invaluable in managing his own company today, which he runs with his wife Beth, leading a team of six builders.

A true family business, his two brothers are part of the exceptional team – one of them drawing the concept for the award-winning home. “We are over the moon and immensely proud,” Beth says. “Without our team’s commitment, dedication and expert craftsmanship, pitting ourselves against the best in the region – and the country – would not have been possible. Bespoke and architectural new builds is where our strengths lie, and the quality of our workmanship is backed up by the award.”

Although a compact total footprint of 131sqm, nothing is compromised in the spacious design. Clad in black Colorsteel and cedar shiplap cladding, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home features a dark-walled kitchen with white-trimmed ply cabinetry, a concrete benchtop and flooring. Another stand-out element of the home is one of the bathroom’s mismatched patterned cement tiles, which create a stunning contrast to the white subway tiles, black-framed shower and black tapware. “The home was designed beautifully by Matt and crafted by our builders with outstanding attention to detail. Being recognised for our hard work is a real pat on the back and a true reflection of Chris’s perfectionism.”


Keane Building


Running the business by the adage, ‘less stress, built best,’ Chris prides himself on providing a personal one-on-one service, with exceptional communication and dedication to every project. “I work really closely with my clients and I’m passionate about delivering them with the ultimate result, through meticulous planning, throughout each stage of the process.”
Ensuring the entire experience is fun and enjoyable, from start to finish, is very important to Chris, Beth adds. “Building relationships is such a strength of his that clients turn into friends.”



For more information, visit, follow on Facebook and Instagram, or phone Chris and Beth on 0800 303 598.


Jason Whitelaw

Creating an ‘extraordinary’ city: Jason Whitelaw

“There has to be a point of difference,” says Jason Whitelaw, hospitality specialist, developer, builder, foodie and regular globetrotter.


Jason Whitelaw


Jason practices what he preaches; even back in in his living in London days, he ran an upmarket Mayfair pub – so far, very Kiwi, but Jason’s pub became renowned for hosting the a-listers. It was, after all, none other than Guy Ritchie’s establishment, The Punchbowl in Farm Street.  Jason clearly has his finger on the pulse and he knows the places that we are seeking before we do to enjoy good food, drink and style. Our city’s rebuild has attracted criticism for an obsession with glass and steel, missing the opportunity for creating an ‘extraordinary’ Christchurch. Jason however, seems to be onto it.


His current hospo masterstroke is Louis Champagne and Oyster Bar. Sophisticated but not overblown, its owner, like Louis XV, is keen on architecture, design and innovation and Jason has produced one of Christchurch’s most stunning and elegant bars around. Having had a lot to do with horse racing, combining champagne and glamour, naturally there is a focus on Cup Week at Louis, with events held right through the spring carnival, starting with Melbourne Cup through to the Hagley Park Polo in January.
Next door is Red Light District, which is cleverly concealed behind the drycleaner’s façade, Charlie Winston’s of Chelsea. Themed around a Chinese opium den with an emphasis on high-end cocktails, Red Light District captures the atmosphere and character that those of us who come of age in Christchurch have been craving for these past eight years.

New venture You Hanoi Me, Pho Disco and Honky Tonk will complete the trifecta in the foodie, cocktail destination that is the Vicinity Precinct on Victoria Street. Despite recent negative press about the street, business is booming and may just be due to Jason’s insight. With another new destination looming for Jason’s Hospitality Group, Bar Bar Black Sheep Ltd sees the old Saggio site, a gentle stroll away, set to be a new Greek restaurant that Jason is launching.
Jason really is diverse and and burns the candle at both ends; developing and building keeps him extremely busy with projects on all around town. From the 300 worker accommodation that is the innovative Workotel in Riccarton, to hugely successful developments like Flemington and Clearwater Springs, Jason keeps going and has recently launced his latest project, Verdeco Park at Lincoln.


This is set to be New Zealand’s first ‘Wellness Subdivision’ and Jason says our country is making great strides in environmental sustainability. “But I want to extend that to the whole development, from the ground up,” he adds.
With innovative design and eco management, this could possibly be a benchmark for developers going forward. It’s obvious that Jason has worked hard. A strong work ethic and ‘blue sky thinking’ enables him to put these deals together and produce some quite extraordinary venues. An ability to see what we want and execute it has put both himself and his projects firmly on the map in Christchurch and it appears that there is more to come – so watch this space.



McLeish Construction

House atop a hill: McLeish Construction completes yet another stunning home in Westmorland

A stunning build in the ever-growing suburb of Westmorland completed by McLeish Construction looks right at home on the top of the hill. The grand entranceway is eye-catching enough, but as the front door opens you see it is much more than an entranceway.

McLeish Construction

The stonework goes from the entrance exterior, right the way through the centre of the house and then back outside again. A two-sided fireplace utilises this stone feature, enhancing ambiance and the feature’s ingenuity further.
With four bedrooms, two bathrooms, three car garaging and every other conceivable essential, this home is clad in a mix of plaster, cedar and stone. “The team enjoyed the unique challenges and certain level of difficulty a hill build presents. It is always satisfying doing a build with excellent high-end products. The homeowners are very happy with the final product and my team is proud of the result,” says Hamish McLeish of McLeish Construction.
This architectural home was designed by Peter Hawtin and completed within nine months.
Licensed Building Practitioner Hamish McLeish has 20 years building experience. A family operated business, it has a reliable and enthusiastic team based predominantly in Canterbury and can cater to projects further afield.
“We take immense pride in the quality of workmanship and attention to detail in every aspect of our work and offer a ten-year guarantee. Our projects are completed on time and within budget by a team of qualified builders and apprentices.”