Following an extensive and thorough process to select build partners for the Wooing Tree Estate, owners Steven and Thea Farquharson and the management team at Veros are pleased to announce the names of four local design-and-build companies who have signed up and committed to working with us on this ground-breaking new development on the outskirts of Cromwell.
“We are delighted with our build partners and their long-term commitment to the project,” says Veros Director, Duarne Lankshear. “We have collaborated with all partners on the design guidelines to ensure that they are all on board with the quality that WTE needs to deliver. It is critical that we build quality houses that will underpin long-term and enduring value of this new community.”
Each of the four locally based builders have purchased land and will be building a show home on their chosen sites at the gateway to Stage 1 at WTE. It is anticipated they will be given the green light to begin construction early in the New Year, with the first homes finished by Autumn 2021.
Although each of these show homes will be quite different, they will all have a similar look in terms of style and materiality, thanks to the design overlay put in place by award-winning master planners, Baxter Design.
The message from our builders to interested parties is to start the design process early. If you’re looking to begin building in February or March 2021, then we need to start talking now. The consensus is that it takes around 6-8 weeks to turnaround custom design plans. From there, the plans are lodged with council for resource consent, before building can begin. Depending on the time of year, it will then take 4-6 months to build your new home at WTE.
We spoke with each of the four builders for their perspective on WTE, what they have planned for their individual sites, and what makes the area in and around Cromwell such an attractive place to live and invest in.
In the five years since Dee Copeland, Jase Williams and their business partners established Barrett Homes Central Otago, this boutique design and build company has grown to emerge as one of the most prolific and successful building companies in the Cromwell area.
Dee puts a good part of the company’s success down to keeping things simple for her clients, by including all the costs at a fixed price, right from the outset – and also starting with a high bar, by including an exceptional level of fixtures and fittings in the base cost. “I believe our standard specs are set high – so you get stone benchtops, garage carpets and fully insulated doors, for example – the little things that people wouldn’t normally expect to be there are all included in our fixed price.”
As well as a core group of locally based builders and subcontractors, Barrett Homes has a team of architects based at their head office in Tauranga that can draw up house plans from scratch.
“Everyone is different and every site is different, so for me, it’s about getting the design bespoke for each site and the way each family wants to live and function in their home,”
As mentioned, every Barrett-built home comes with a high level of specification as standard – they are also extremely comfortable and efficient homes to live in, thanks to insulated rib-raft foundations, high-performance, double-glazed joinery, and under-tile heating. Dee says that every home can also be fitted with an optional DVS system and high end heating options.
The show home Barrett Homes are planning to build at Wooing Tree, under Dee’s guidance, is a twin pavilion design that will come with all the bells and whistles. It will feature a large open-plan living area with soaring cathedral ceilings, plus three bedrooms and a flexi-room. It will also have a double garage.
Dee says her relationship with Steve and Thea, the owners of Wooing Tree, goes deeper than simply business. “They are mates. Our sons are the same age. We chat on the side lines of the rugby field,” she says. “They also have one of my paintings hanging over the fireplace at their tasting room.” (Dee is also a talented portrait artist in her spare time).
“Other than its great location, as the gateway to Cromwell, the vision Steve and Thea have for their new subdivision is really unique – they have an emotional tie; their heart and soul is in it, and that’s key to their existing Wooing Tree brand… and also to the people they know and love in our community.”
“Personally, as a resident, I feel that Cromwell is happily different to Queenstown and Wanaka. We have a nice community here. It’s a workingman’s town in a lot of respects – a mix of down-to-earth retired farmers, young working families. People here are just a bit more laid back and approachable… and ‘country’. It’s got peace and quiet, and it’s a nice fit for how we like to live our lives.”
G.J. Gardner Homes opened its first franchise in New Zealand 23 years ago and based on independent research, has become New Zealand’s Most Trusted Home Builder for consecutive years. That’s something Nick Tapper, G.J. Gardner’s franchisee for both Queenstown and Wanaka/Central Otago, is extremely proud of.
Nick has lived in the area for coming up to ten years, and set up both franchises from scratch. Nick and his team have handed over almost 500 houses in that time. “All our staff and all our trades and suppliers are local,” he says. “We also tend to deal with New Zealand made products – because of warranties and back-ups.”
“One of the things we really like about the new Wooing Tree development is its aspect and its location – being among the vines, looking out over the mountains and the proximity to the lake. It’s a wonderful spot,”
“The attention to detail around the owners’ vision and the master plan is also very attractive. The design controls that have been created around the design of homes and their materiality have been well thought through. They are of a very high standard, but also give enough flexibility for people to still make choices – not too rigid, but enough in there to be creative. We build a lot of homes at Jack’s Point, so we are very familiar and comfortable working within the constraints of strict design guidelines,” adds Nick.
Talking about the process of building with G.J. Gardner, Nick says his team starts from scratch with every client. “Ninety-five percent of the homes we build are bespoke – that’s just the nature of the market down here. We start from the ground up to suit the site and its aspect, then adapt one of our floor plans – of which we have around 130 well-priced and well-tested plans that are already in the system – to meet the design controls of the development.”
G.J. Gardner employs a full-time interior architect to help with space layout, colours, interior design and specifications. There are three levels of specification: Express, Classic or Premium – each sitting at a specific price point. “These specifications are all interchangeable,” says Nick. “It’s all about finding out where the dollar can be maximised to suit a client’s taste and budget.”
A base level of landscaping is also included with the house, in conjunction with and to compliment Wooing Tree’s master plan. “In the past, we’ve gifted trees to clients – as a memento of when they first moved into their home. With Wooing Tree, it may be more appropriate to gift a Pinot Noir or Sav Blanc vine to crawl around their pergola’” smiles Nick.
On Cromwell itself, Nick says he thinks that the area appeals to a large cross section of the population. “You’ve got everything right on your doorstep – you’ve got fishing, hiking and biking, you’ve got great wineries, and you’ve got all the ski fields. But at the same time, you’re away from the bustle of Queenstown and Wanaka. And people aren’t necessarily looking for that any more.”
He can see Wooing Tree being popular with young families coming out of Queenstown, people coming up from Dunedin and down from Auckland, and from Christchurch, too – investing in an area that is going to see accelerated growth. “It’s a place to settle once you’ve done your hard work. When the kids have gone to university and you’re looking at getting away and rewarding yourself with time up your sleeve.”
“If you’re looking for a great place to live, or a bolthole to get away from it all, it ticks quite a few boxes,” says Nick. “We obviously believe in the development because we have invested in land and intend to build a show home there – and it’s one that we are very excited about.”
Mike Greer Homes
Mike Greer Homes have been building award-winning homes for over 25 years and is New Zealand's largest privately owned home building company. They have and continue to be involved with many of the country’s most prominent residential projects, so when Mike Millar, the Director and joint owner of Mike Greer Homes Central Otago, first heard about the proposed new development at Wooing Tree, he says he was very keen to be involved.
“Wooing Tree is an exciting and prestigious project for Cromwell and we were keen to get on board from the outset. To me, it has a very similar look and feel to, say, Jack’s Point and some of the subdivisions we’ve worked on here in Wanaka. And once the word gets out, I think the demand will be really high.”
Mike and his team of 12, Wanaka-based staff have the full backing of Mike Greer Homes nationally, including an award wining Design team and a comprehensive Pricing team, based in Christchurch. On the ground in Wanaka, Mike has his own building crew, plus two additional subcontracting crews in Cromwell he can call on, which he says is important, as it helps put money back into the local economy.
“We have a great range of standard plans which we can adjust to our customers’ needs. The idea is to find the ideal price point for our customers,” he says. “As a starting point, I have chosen three floor plans for the Wooing Tree homes. We have then adapted them to include Alpine-look exteriors to conform to the predetermined design guidelines.”
Mike is impressed with how the new development at Wooing Tree will look and feel – particularly with the way the homes will be set out, with strict set backs, site coverage and building envelopes that ensure the houses don’t feel cramped together. There are also the covenants on the roof styles, exterior materials and colours that can be used, which will help to give a visual consistency across the whole development.
“It’s important to have those rules in place for the exteriors, but inside, we can pretty much do what we want. We can have cathedral ceilings, with skylights, if our clients want them. We can change stud heights, too, to give the homes a more generous feel.”
The houses will be warm and efficient too, thanks to insulated foundations, low-e double-glazing, and the option to have two heat sources.
“At Mike Greer Homes we have a standard list of specifications, using some of the most reputable brands – Newtech bathroomware, Grohe tapware, Smeg appliances, Godfrey Hirst carpets and flooring – so a high level of finishing,” says Mike. “We also give a fixed cost for peace of mind.”
On the question of who he sees as his target buyer, Mike believes they will be a combination of an overflow of people from Queenstown, who either can’t find or can’t afford land, people from the rest of Central Otago – and the rest of the country – looking for a holiday home, or a place to retire. “Wooing Tree is very nicely located and creates a very desirable option for people in this stunning part of the country,” he says.
“Cromwell has become a lot more appealing; certainly more affordable, comparatively. It is the natural hub of Central Otago, being 40 minutes from Wanaka, 45 minutes from Queenstown, and equidistant to all the major ski fields. Then there are all the wineries and the biking opportunities. It’s got a lot going for it.”
Andy Lawrence, Director of Landmark Homes Central Otago, says that he came on board with the Wooing Tree Estate after conversations with Duarne Lankshear, one of the directors at the project’s developer, Veros.
“What impressed us about the Wooing Tree Estate is that it is set in a vineyard, surrounded by vines, yet it’s right in the centre of Cromwell – plus it promises to offer an elevated level of living compared to anything else that is currently available in the surrounding area.”
“The types of builds Landmark Homes undertake are not at entry level, so we like that the sections at Wooing Tree are large, plus we are encouraged by the strict design standards that will be put in place to ensure all the homes at Wooing Tree are of a similar quality of design and build. That is very appealing from a Landmark perspective.”
Landmark Homes has no issue at all with dovetailing their designs and plans in with the design guidelines set out by master planners, Baxter Design. “We have a range of standard plans that can be modified to the needs of individual clients. Equally, we can custom design and build a home from scratch,” says Andy.
Within the wider team at Landmark, Andy can call upon an experienced group of draftsmen, architects and interior designers from around the country, who are renowned for their practical and innovative designs, and will make the whole process seamless.
“Our homes generally come in at a higher spec than most of the other builders. Saying that, we also like to make them affordable and good value for money. We expect the home-and-land packages at Wooing Tree to start just below the one million dollar mark and go up from there.”
The typical Landmark client appreciates quality and the ‘little details’ that really turn a house into a luxurious home. Approximately 90% of all of Landmark Homes built in Central Otago are unique, whether its minor changes to a quintessential Landmark house plan or an architectural build.
“Cromwell will continue to grow in popularity. It’s the Central Otago town, central to everything – 20 minutes to Alex, 40 minutes to Wanaka and 45 minutes to Queenstown. There are also all the lifestyle choices. In summer, there’s walking, hiking, cycling, watersports and the motor sports – and also the horse racing. Winter is a lot quieter, but you are close to all the ski fields. Cromwell has so much going for it, and it will become very strategic if the new airport goes ahead.”
Andy says the Wooing Tree Estate will work in well with the planned expansion of the town and he has no doubt it will become a desirable address to live in. “It will definitely stand the test of time, with people’s investments becoming realised.”
If you want to work with your own designer and builder, that’s perfectly fine with us – just bear in mind that all house designs must be reviewed and approved by the Wooing Tree Design Panel before applying for resource consent.