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More Space, No Stress | Ailsa & Jimmy Ormsby

How do you get more space in your home without the usual renovation stress? For Ailsa and Jimmy Ormsby, it was about finding a builder who focuses on quality.

The Brief

There’s no shortage of space in Kaipaki, the rural community near Cambridge that plays home to Windsor Park Stud and the Lily Pad Café. But for Kaipaki residents Ailsa and Jimmy Ormsby, their newly-purchased 1920's bungalow didn’t take full advantage of their spacious property. They decided a major renovation was in order to create new and better spaces: adding a brand new kitchen, extending and revitalising the dining area with large new windows and doors to enhance the natural lighting, and building a large adjacent outdoor entertainment area to add a fantastic indoor/outdoor living and entertaining space. And all of this to be done in a way in keeping with the original character of the home that had been so well maintained over the years. 

The Process

Ailsa often circles back to the theme of communication when reflecting on their experience with Rob May Building. “His communication was amazing,” Ailsa says about Jono, whose attentiveness and transparency quickly allayed any fears the Ormsbys may have had going into the job. “It was constant. He was always on the end of the phone.” If a staff member was home sick for the day or an urgent job cropped up elsewhere, Jono was quick to inform Ailsa. “I would never wonder; he’d always let me know. And Jono was here regularly, so I always got a really good update as to where we were at."
But Jono wasn’t the only one to make a positive impression. Ailsa was pleased with the whole crew, citing the staff’s punctuality, diligence, and being “really nice guys” as some of their stand-out features. And they worked in such a way as to interfere as little as possible with the Ormsbys’ daily life. The kitchen was added onto the house before the original exterior wall was removed, ensuring the house remained toasty and secure during construction. Even luxuries were considered. Due to the temporary unavailability of powerpoints in the living room, the household was left without TV for three weeks. “It was fine of course,” says Ailsa. “But I just asked Jono if it was possible [to get the new powerpoints installed].” The next day, they were on the job. “Those little things. They just got them done.”

"It was a completely stress-free renovation."

Despite the crew’s minimal-disruption approach, the job was still completed on time and came in under budget. That’s an outstanding result, especially given how often and easily major renovations can devolve into a very expensive headache. But Ailsa seems just as chipper about the project now as she was leading up to it. “It was a completely stress-free renovation.”

The Result

“It’s fantastic. It’s transformed the house,” Ailsa enthuses, describing the completed job. It was a big project but the improvement is dramatic. Previous renovations have retained the original character of the house, particularly its high standard of finish, but this most recent renovation not only fully preserved that character but also successfully enlarged the house, connecting the house with the garden, which as Ailsa points out “creates more room—indoors and out”. The centrepiece of the renovation is the roomy kitchen that leads out onto the equally as spacious deck area—perfect for year-round entertaining.

For Ailsa, however, it’s the little things that she appreciates most. One of her favourite features of the renovation is one most visitors would barely notice: a join in the doorframe between the dining room and lounge area, between the old and the new. It may look innocuous but the join represents several hours of head-scratching, trying to figure out how to make the lines match up. The art of making something brand new look like it had been part of the house for 80 years. It took Cam’s (site foreman) sharp eye and clever thinking to fix the problem with minimal hassle. It’s those small details that, in the Ormsby’s eyes, all add up to a job well done. “We’ve got more space—yeah, I love it.”