See how The Block’s Alice and Caleb transform a dilapidated 1960s house

See how The Block’s Alice and Caleb transform a dilapidated 1960s house

This story was originally published by Your Home and Garden and is republished with permission.

Renovating a rundown home can take far longer than you think – even for The Block NZ veterans Alice and Caleb.


The rooms felt dark and closed-in.
The decks were unusable and therefore no indoor-outdoor flow.
The foundations were found to be structurally unsound.


Large stacker doors were fitted to make the most of the north-facing aspect. The living area gained a cathedral ceiling to provide light and a sense of spaciousness.
New decks were built on two sides of the home, creating a connection to the outdoors and giving access to the garden. The house was lifted and levelled and new foundations laid.


When Alice and Caleb Pearson were approached to transform a dilapidated 1960s house for a television show called The Ultimate Reno on Three, they jumped at the opportunity. The Glendowie property assigned to them enjoyed unfettered views of parkland and out to the Hauraki Gulf, as well as a level of privacy that can be hard to find close to Auckland’s inner city. These attributes, plus its large, north-facing section, were enough for the pair to commit their creative talents to restoring the house, which was largely in its original state.


With a new home to renovate and a camera crew on hand to capture the experience, Alice and Caleb set to work selecting a team that could bring their vision to life. They commissioned the services of Stuart Huggett of Architects Pacific. Alice was a fan of his previous work on resorts in Fiji, which fitted with her plans to create a home with a relaxed, ‘holiday’ feel. With the architect secured, the couple then enlisted the services of QBS Builders, whose positive testimonials and reputation for good attention to detail were a huge drawcard for Caleb.


Alice and Caleb’s main goal was to capitalise on the home’s spectacular views. The house itself was dark and cavernous with two non-compliant decks which were unusable. To change this, huge windows and doors that opened onto full-size decks were to be added. The basement area, which was a jumble of utility areas including a laundry, was to be reconfigured into usable living spaces. The kitchen and bathrooms were to be totally replaced and an entire third-storey loft with a spacious master bedroom was planned.


With any renovation, there is always an element of surprise, and this untouched 1960s home proved to be no exception to the rule. As work began on the house, the couple quickly realised its problems went deeper than poor layout and a lack of decking.

Asbestos was found on the site, and the home was damp and generally in a state of disrepair. Then the engineering report revealed that the basement floor was subsiding, making the home structurally unsound. In short, the entire house was slowly sinking. “In parts, the windows and doors couldn’t even be opened,” says Alice. “The house had had so many corners cut in the build, it was a wonder it was still standing.”


“The design process was a stressful one,” says Alice. “What was originally a renovation essentially became a rebuild in order to strengthen the house and bring everything up to code. Stuart and his team at Architects Pacific had to work very closely with engineer Lucy Edwards and her team at Chester Engineering.”

In order to continue with any sort of renovation, the house needed to be made level. The company House Lifters was called in to perform this small miracle, and the building was raised, then levelled and a new foundation laid, making the home structurally sound and ready for renovation.


The couple’s renovation had rolled into the realms of a rebuild and thousands had been spent on unexpected foundation problems, so in order to complete the project within budget, the initial architectural plans had to be abandoned.

To claw back money, the third-storey loft was completely scrapped. Stuart instead focused on working within the original framework of the home and giving it a new lease of life. “He added elements that make a huge impact,” says Alice. Huge glass stacker doors do justice to those views and decking areas create wonderful indoor-outdoor flow.

Downstairs, an extra bedroom and bathroom were added, along with a spacious family room and study. Upstairs, two bedrooms were converted into one large master suite. An open-plan living and kitchen area with a cathedral ceiling creates the “open living and big spaces” that Alice and Caleb envisioned. The new design was much more affordable than the original plans but was still an elegant, stylish and practical solution for family living.


Alice wanted to introduce some bold colour accents to her neutral palette. “Picking a palette isn’t just about wall colours, but all the colours you want to bring into the house. Everything is part of a colour scheme, from the lights to the cabinetry and even a cushion.”

Her vision was for a warm, earthy and organic feel. The yellow splash of Resene ‘Gold Coast’ on a wall in the family room is offset by sage green and orange cushions. The dusty blue (Resene Karen Walker ‘Periglacial Blue’) in the master bedroom is married with warm greys and soft pink bedding. Graphic rugs and art also add to the overall palette.

Alice chose a sandy Cavalier Bremworth loop-pile carpet, reminiscent of the beach, which contrasts nicely with the black window joinery and kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Hints of black in the soft furnishings and picture frames reinforce the colour scheme.


To add depth throughout the home, the couple focused on introducing texture via wooden shutters and blinds in the bedrooms and warm timber accents in the exposed ceiling beams and internal batten screens. Alice selected elegant and simple Rylock doors to be fitted throughout the house. “The idea was for the doors to blend seamlessly into the walls,” she says.

Despite its many problems, the one thing the home did deliver was beautiful native timber floors. “South Pacific Timber sourced sustainable rimu for us, and the building team nailed it down by hand to patch up areas that needed replacing,” says Alice.

A palette of tactile finishes – including concrete, timber and stone – is echoed in decor such as the rattan and timber bar stools from Harvey Norman, the woven lightshades over the kitchen island, chunky patterned planters and the large wood-and-basketwork pots in the entryway. Plenty of lush green plants are peppered throughout the home, cementing its strong connection to nature.


The renovation of this home was a long and, at times, demoralising ride. What started as a 10-week plan turned into a year-long project with more than its fair share of disasters. “Some of us wondered if the house was haunted, as some of the problems we faced seemed too ridiculous or cruel to be true!” laughs Alice.

The reality of home renovation is that good things take time, and what Alice, Caleb and their team eventually achieved is a blend of mindful restoration and good design. The home is now not only a beautiful, light-filled space, but also an extremely liveable one.

Original article:

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We approached House Lifters Ltd for help to lower our house onto its new piles after another Christchurch-based house removal company had dealt with us in bad faith and refused to remedy their breach of contract. Stuart, the Managing Director, was only too happy to help and, incredibly, his team had our house down within the week. They did exactly what they represented they were going to do, and they did it efficiently, professionally, and with great care for our house.Thank you Stuart for giving us control of our lives back - we are now able to finally move forward as a family and start enjoying our home. You took a stressful situation off our plates and reassured us that everything was in your very capable hands. We will be encouraging anyone who seeks house removal services to get in touch with House Lifters Ltd for a job done with care. A total credit to the house removal industry.
Shanelle Lovegrove
Shanelle Lovegrove
10:17 10 Aug 23
Houselifters showed absolute commitment to the whare and the correct and required repair to the new insurance repair standard of when new. Houselifters were also clean and tidy in their work.
Dean Lester
Dean Lester
02:18 24 May 23
Parthenon Construction has had extensive experience in engaging with Stuart and the team at House Lifters.We have successfully completed over 250 projects with House Lifters since the Canterbury Earthquake and can not recommend them highly enough. They are specialist is there profession, provide accurate quotes, deliver to program and stand by there work.Relationships in the construction industry are extremally important and we are proud to say we have one with House Lifters that is formed on integrity and trust.
Daniel Fridd
Daniel Fridd
09:02 20 Apr 23
Stu and the team at House Lifters are great to deal with. I've had several projects with them in my role as a structural engineer and Stu has always helped to bridge the gap between design and construction in order to provide practical & cost effective repairs.On site, the team get on with the job and in my experience do what they say they will, when they say they will which is a great help to myself and clients.
Matt Pfahlert
Matt Pfahlert
23:22 28 Mar 23
A very seccessful relevel carried out by Stuart and his team!Prompt to schedule us in and great communication throughout the job.After getting the run around for 2 months from smartlift and then being told they couldnt do the job House lifters stepped up and made it all happen!Relevel of an 8 units, 3 storey, tilt panel apartments across 2 foundations..Going above the scope without complaint and the price was very fair.If your thinking about relevelling this is that company you want to use!!
Jericho Forest
Jericho Forest
10:26 26 Mar 23
We at FeutzandGoldsmith Builders have worked intimately with Stuart Moore and the House Lifters team since the inception of the Canterbury Earthquake recovery. House Lifters are considered an expert in the field of re-levelling, referred to us by Southern Response, House Lifters have undertaken a range of small- and large-scale re-levels and foundation/slab replacements, from modern homes to homes built in the early 19th Century, all with optimum success. The success of this organisation begins at the top, Stuart Moore is a master of the trade, evident from dealings with all sectors of this organization, House Lifters excel in design, communication, and delivery. When thinking re-levelling, there’s only one name, House Lifters.
Blair Langton
Blair Langton
04:40 22 Mar 23
They respond promptly and in detail. The team is easy to deal with.
01:55 17 Mar 23
As a structural engineer, I have worked with house lifters on a number of successful relevelling jobs and I recommend them to anyone wanted relevelling of there house carried out.
mark patterson
mark patterson
01:12 17 Mar 23
The team at Houselifters have completed a number of project for our building company as a sub contractor. Their team have been on time and professional in all dealings i have had with them. They have worked on numerous difficult projects also and have been very helpful in troubleshooting with us if changes have been required. They have strong construction knowledge and experience and I have no problem recommending the Houselifters team for any work you may require.
Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston
22:51 15 Mar 23
Fil Engineers have been working with House Lifter for about 10 years now. Great company, practical solutions and top-notch workmanship. Highly recommended.
Andre Boiser
Andre Boiser
00:46 13 Mar 23
Great fella,, help full on time and fair pricesAnd chch original
Jason Hodgson
Jason Hodgson
08:39 08 Dec 21
These guys are very professional.
Paul Carter
Paul Carter
01:08 09 Oct 21
Recently house lifter relocated my house. The team worked very efficiently and always provided good communication for progress. The project finished within agreed timeframe and budget. Highly recommend!
Angela Jia
Angela Jia
22:10 28 Oct 20
Great work by the team. Very helpful, made sure everything was done right. Re-aligned doors, replaced piles, etc, when the front of the house was lifted,. Easy to contact, very responsive. Friendly, hard-working team. Really happy with their work. Will definitely use them again.
Allen Rodrigo
Allen Rodrigo
20:10 24 Sep 20
Rod and his team were absolutely fantastic on our tricky house-lift which required trying to level the house while minimising remedial work on renovated areas. The scoping stage was very very thorough and the team were the only lifters who actually came and did a full house level measure as part of the quoting process. During the work Rod and the team were very open to feedback and really took the time to listen to our feedback and leave no stone unturned to address all items. The team were pretty patient with our needs and especially towards the end when there was some easing of doors etc. needed to complete the job and meet our high expectation bar :) I would HIGHLY recommend the team based on my experience - you will not be disappointed!
Kunal Bhargava
Kunal Bhargava
09:48 01 Sep 20
Rod, Mayo and their team not only held our old bungalow up while we excavated underneath, but they also solved some tricky problems to allow our builders work to more effectively as the job progressed. As a result we managed to complete the whole of the basement floor slab in a single pour….. something that we did not expect to be possible. They willingly made changes at short notice and nothing seemed to be too much of a problem. They were really pleasant to deal with, always responded quickly to our requests, and had a great “can do” attitude. We have no reservations in recommending the Houselifters team for this kind of work.
John Hunt
John Hunt
06:54 14 May 20
House Lifters relocated my 2 Tonne pizza oven without much problem. solved a big issue!highly recommended!
Pavan Vyas
Pavan Vyas
03:48 14 Oct 19
Great staff. Brent was really helpful and knowledgeable
Amy Burton
Amy Burton
04:36 01 Sep 19
Professional, cost effective and fast from quoting to actual work
mohammad ayat
mohammad ayat
01:56 13 Sep 17

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