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Uncompromising craftsmanship: LOC Construction

While the size of jobs can vary from a several million-dollar project to a small renovation, there is never a variation in the quality of the work done by LOC Construction


“We specialise in architectural designs and hill work, but we give equal attention to a bathroom renovation – every client gets the same build quality,” says Team Manager Tom O’Connell.

LOC Construction recently completed the townhouses at 129 – 131 Edgeware Road. Featuring metal tray roofing which is also used as cladding on the sides, the front and insets combine cedar and plaster finish.

The team used a new ground improvement system called Terafil, a Mainmark product, and the high-end landscaping was completed by Goom Landscapes.


The townhouses are designed by South Architects and focus on maximising the utility of the relatively small site, “They did a really great job – a telling feature is the larger than usual bedrooms in the homes,” says Tom.

“It’s fantastic to see them completed and all the spaces come together.”

LOC Construction has now turned its attention to repurposing the Kate Sheppard house from a private residence to a public centre to celebrate Kate’s story, “It’s great to bring our craftsmanship and uncompromising high standards to this much-loved historic home,” says Tom.


The B word: South Architects

When planning new home projects, conversations about budget and expectations should start early. Don’t wait until the design is underway, suggests Craig South of South Architects.

Getting ready to build a new home is so exciting, particularly if it is for the first time. As architects, it is incredibly rewarding to work with people setting out on that journey and talking with them about their lifestyle goals and dreams.

The role of architects at this initial stage is to start breathing life into the brief, getting to know the client, along with their site and life aspirations.

Many architects strongly recommend involving either the builder or quantity surveyor early in the process to establish firm build cost expectations.

It can sometimes be difficult having those frank conversations around budget, but it is much better to be clear about all the details and associated costings before work begins on the ground.

A work to budget promise must entail much more than a lip service commitment that everything will be covered. In fact, fulfilling that promise rests on having good, clear communication from the outset around what the budget is, what it includes and what it will deliver. Even a simple misunderstanding about whether fees include GST or not risks having a big impact if no one has ever taken the time to clarify it. Fundamentally, meeting client expectations rests on communication, respect and achieving clarity and understanding right through the process.

From a design perspective, the architect’s number one priority is always to create an inspiring home for their client that fulfils expectations.

Within that, budget parameters play a part in guiding and influencing the size of the home and the complexity of the architecture.

In our experience, the wow factor comes from having beautifully designed spaces which can be achieved within any budget. Playful inspiring design is still very achievable.

As the build progresses, the architect’s ability to make changes to align with a particular budget will gradually diminish.

It underlines the importance of having everyone on the same page from the outset, to minimise any likelihood of the unexpected as the project enters the construction phase. Early decisions on finishing elements will help keep the budget on track through to the end.

Design and construction costs are not the only factors worth weighing up when thinking about budget. Increasingly, people are also starting to consider whole of life costs associated with their plans.

How homes constructed today can have a big impact on long term running costs. More energy efficient designs that include a solar system and high-performance glazing and insulation will be more expensive to build initially but the trade-off will be a home that is cheaper to live in.

Adding to that, of course, are the comfort, well-being and sustainability benefits associated with a well-designed energy efficient home.

Having good discussions right through the whole design and build process remains pivotal to ensuring your new home will deliver the lifestyle you want long term.



Storylines in the design journey: South Architects Ltd

Impactful architecture works on so many levels, not just outwardly, but also by making connections with people and places. At the heart of any great design is a compelling story, says Craig South of South Architects.


Being able to tell a story is of fundamental importance to the architectural design process. Doing it well requires responsiveness, patience and a willingness to be open to possibility.

Developing and communicating narratives through design – ultimately expressed as built projects – is both fulfilling and enjoyable.

The process is open and informal, involving architect and client in an evolving two-way journey, each building a deeper understanding of the other.

The architect’s goal is to gain a complete picture of the client, their goals and aspirations, as well as the key features of site and setting.

Effectively, the “story” grows from this into a series of references which then inform a highly personalised design response.

Out of this process, a unifying narrative may emerge to drive the design forward.

It can be inspired by something very simple, like a beautiful natural object or historic artefact, or even a striking geological feature.

A good architect knows how to recognise a good design story when it comes along and will use it to give the home texture and shape, as well as an anchor in the landscape.

In our practice, we often find ourselves designing homes that can achieve a specific connection with the surrounding landscape.

They may point to physical landmarks or frame a spectacular view.


Environmental factors build the narrative further with sun and wind, local weather conditions and topography all feeding into the emerging story line.

Many other threads shape the design story too, such as client preferences around materials and colours, along with functionality, environmental and budgetary considerations.

The end goal is to create inspiring architecture and an unparalleled experience of home for the client.

It is very satisfying to reach the end of a project with the client expressing a sense of real ownership over their new home.

They understand the story behind it, how it all functions and fits together and why their home is so uniquely special to them.

This approach, so very powerful in residential architecture, is doubly useful in commercial architecture, where story telling can form part of the brand message.

A clear narrative behind the design will help ensure delivery of great results, whether a stand out hospitality experience or a strongly functional industrial workspace.

There is a balance to be struck between being too literal in a design story versus taking a more subtle approach.

Success lies in designing for uniqueness, carefully weaving together elements that are important to the client and relevant to site and project purpose.

Architecture is, beyond doubt, highly subjective.

Some buildings are designed for aesthetics alone yet ultimately more satisfying is architecture that carries a story within itself of people, ways of life, of the landscape and the environment.

This, for me, is what makes the design process so exciting.

Our stories are rich and diverse, fuelling creative possibilities and opportunities that can contribute to truly remarkable outcomes.




Designing for change: South Architects

Is it possible to design a family home today that will stay in synch with changing needs through future years? Craig South, of South Architects, believes it can be done provided evolving family dynamics are carefully considered in the design process.



Moving somewhere new every time life changes is not a universal practice around the world and, as our households become more diverse, attitudes are changing here too.

Inter-generational living is becoming more common and influencing home design preferences.

I believe the trend could be towards long term strategic thinking that involves very careful selection of a location and an environment that will have enduring value, coupled with future-focussed design objectives.

Of course, homes should always be designed to allow for planned growth and change so that it can continue to provide value into the future, rather than just current demands.

In fact, we see this evolutionary process happen within our own practice as homes we have designed adapt to meet changes in family dynamics, as the years go by.

Today the concept is moving a step further with designs that effectively combine two homes under one roof.

One such project we have been working on with a client involves designing a house with a self-contained wing, well-connected to the main home and with its own views as well as internal and external amenities.

The goal is to provide a quality lifestyle for extended family with the clients’ parents living in the connected wing.

In another future scenario as families evolve, the self-contained space could be used by older children.

Or the clients could eventually live there themselves, with the next generation in the main home.

The real value of the design is how it supports the concept of an extended family living well together, with privacy and independence in balance.

A desire to add separate yet linked accommodation spaces to the main home is certainly emerging as a design preference in this ‘house for life’ movement.

We can also see a growing taste for smaller bedrooms and more living spaces.

It’s my view that dormitory-style bedrooms could catch on, it works well for families with the extra space used to create a separate living room to socialise with friends.

The key to having a successful inter-generational home is to ensure there is good communication, good planning and having the courage to make design decisions that may seem unexpected in the present context, but will make perfect sense in the future as the family grows and evolves.

As architects, we must consider our clients’ personalities and preferences in order to create enduring bespoke designs that will suit their way of life, not just today but well into the future.


Married to architecture

Ever wondered what life is like for architects’ families? Anna South, who is married to Craig South of South Architects Ltd in Christchurch, shares her perspective.


When someone gets the chance to put their mark on the world in a unique and personal way, as architects do, it is only natural that they want to share that experience with their families.

I’m not sure what other families do in their free time, but if Craig has a home being built in Christchurch, then chances are high that there will be a family outing or two to the site to check on progress. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is something very exhilarating about being able to visit a home as it is being built and watch it through each stage.

Behind the scenes, there is an awful lot of time and effort that goes into translating a client’s ideas into a considered design vision.

Architectural matters inevitably seep into our everyday lives.

On a typical Sunday afternoon at home, we may be sharing a family platter while Craig sits at the dining room table sketching.

We are all very well accustomed to the sketch pad coming out over the weekend!

Architecture isn’t something that you can ever really take a break from.

Personally, I find it fascinating to see sketches evolve, knowing they will ultimately become someone’s beautiful new home.

I have also come to appreciate the importance of due diligence in every project.

Architects need to be very familiar with the land they are designing for and the materials that will be used.

Tapping walls and checking out claddings is all part of the fun!

This passion for the job is ultimately what paves the way for our clients having a good experience too, as we want nothing but the best for them.

Thanks to our amazing clients, we are lucky enough to visit some beautiful places as we check on the progress of homes.

This is one of the real pleasures of the job for all of us.

There’s nothing like tagging along on a lovely trip to Whangamata or Central Otago.

It is so exciting to watch well thought out designs come to life and meet clients who will eventually make happy memories in their lovely new home.

Like every couple with children, we look forward to opportunities to get dressed up every now and again and enjoy a fun evening out together.

Design awards provide the perfect excuse for that while celebrating the outstanding architecture currently being produced in New Zealand.

Along with the highs of awards won are the lows of awards entered and not won.

It can be a tough industry to be in when one’s work is constantly being scrutinised through design award entries or on social media.

People sometimes forget that architects like Craig must tailor their designs to suit the wants and needs of individual families.

It is always a collaborative journey.

In the end, nothing beats visiting the finished home, having the client show you around with pride in their eyes and knowing that they will live well in their South Architects creation!