11 May 2015

One thing I never imagined I'd be doing in my life {building a home in Cambridge....}

Over the Easter holidays, after cutting short our trip around Gisborne in the East Cape with a few nights at Mum and Dads, we spent some time driving around Cambridge looking at the different housing areas and schools to get a feel for the town.

Whoever the town planners were back in the day, they really put some forethought into the town when they were developing it - you can see from the map below how much 'green belt' open space surrounds the town right around the outside - and with all the lovely trees and the lake in the centre of the town it's a simply gorgeous and scenic little town even just to pass through.

When we've mentioned to people that we're moving to Cambridge, no-one has had anything bad to say - we've had comments from 'oh it's lovely' to 'you're gonna love it' to 'I'd love to move there too if I could'. That in itself has been pretty encouraging for us when we are contemplating such a big lifestyle change - going from living right smack bag in the middle of a big capital city (population 400,000) to a small rural town of 18,750.

Even though it's small in size, it's a well known spot and most people who live in the top half of the North Island would have visited or passed through at one time or another since NZ's major road - State Highway 1 that runs from the length of the North Island - currently runs right through the middle of the town. It does make for a lot of extra traffic now, but the new Waikato Expressway being built will take all that traffic to the outskirts of town within the next 18 months. Personally I thing it will be a good thing - although there is of course potential for retailers to suffer (including one of our Evolution Cycles store which is right on SH1 now) but I think Cambridge has enough appeal as a town in its own right that people will still want to stop off here to visit and take a break on their journeys.

Cambridge has a catch phrase 'Town of Trees and Champions' - and rightly so as it is now the base for many elite sports and sportspeople - for a start there's the world-class Velodrome and Cycling NZ based there - with the Track Cycling world champs scheduled to be held here later in the year. Then there's world-class rowing facilities at Lake Karapiro (which hosted the World Champs back in 2010) and Rowing NZ is also based in Cambridge. And as long as I can remember it's also been an equestrian stronghold with a large number of well-known thoroughbred studs dotted around the surrounding countryside.

There's also the Te Awa Cycleway now running right through the middle of the town and all the way out to Karapiro - part of the Great River Ride - 70km of cycleway running along the mighty Waikato River. This will be a great opportunity for us to get out on our bikes together as a family - something that has eluded us in Wellington - although Mark and Noah have done a little bit of mountain biking up in the hills, we are yet to do a whole family ride together - bring it on!

Originally we'd thought we would want to base ourselves on the northern side of town as this is the side of town where both the middle and high schools are located and although we are still a couple of years away from needing that yet, I have no doubt it'll come round soon enough.

That being said, once we started looking at the housing over in that area, we realised just how close the whole area is to the new 4-lane expressway being built as part of the Waikato Expressway project - with the Cambridge section due to be completed late next year.

At the moment, it's a bit of an unknown quantity just how much additional traffic noise there would be once it's operational and there are a LOT of people selling in the area at the moment - and who could blame them?! We did go and look at one house that would have potentially been OK but even then it was still within 500 metres of the expressway and it wasn't that well placed on the section - we would have needed to sort out the fencing as all the living was out front and unfenced and not at all private.

So we started to broaden our thinking, and the next day we took a trip to a new subdivision Cambridge Park that's in the process being built on the south western side of town (on the road out to Te Awamutu). After the trip to the Generation Homes showroom, we came away very interested.

The thought of building our own home hadn't ever occurred to us before - it's not something we could really contemplate doing in Wellington - land is at a premium here and most usable land is on the side of the hill - that is unless you move way out into the 'burbs which would then mean a long commute to town for work. So the idea of this building project was starting to get very appealing.

We settled on a section (the last one available in the current stage of development) and then spent the next week or so going backwards and forwards with Generation Homes negotiating some alterations to the standard house design plans that came with the house and land package.

As we got closer to finalising the contract with both the lawyers and the bank, we also decided it would be wise to get up to Cambridge for the weekend to go back through the showroom in more detail as we had a zillion questions that we knew would be much better answered face-to-face where we could actually touch and look at products and samples and colours. So we booked cheap flights to Auckland and lucky for us, our good friends Jackie and Heidi were very happy to have the boys descend on them for the night, so off we went.

I certainly enjoyed the chance to read the latest Kia Ora magazine from cover to cover uninterrupted and admire the beautiful Central Plateau from mid-air on the flight.

Into the 24-hour crazy turn-around mix we managed to throw in a stop to look at a car in Auckland (which we didn't buy) and dinner out with our dear friends Tracey and Dayne - who we first met in Wellington some 12 years ago and who now live in Hamilton. We are very much looking forward to being 'just down the road' from them!

On Sunday morning we spent a very productive few hours spent going through lots of details and we got the chance to walk into the stage that's in bare bones construction right now - it was a pretty cool feeling standing on the corner of where our new section will be imagining ourselves there in hopefully six month's or so time!

It's still a bit hard to imagine but the view below will be from our front door. I like that it's looking out onto farmland not far away.

An opportunity to view a rental also came up while we were up there, as finding somewhere to live for 6 months while the house is being built was also pretty high on the priority list. Rentals in Cambridge are hard to come by, they are few and far between and get snapped up pretty quickly. Also the fact that we were only wanting to sign up for an initial six months and we also have Murphy to think about was throwing a little more complications into the mix of rental opportunities.

That being said, we really liked the one property we saw. It is MUCH smaller than our house here in Wellington (about half the size!) but is in a cul-de-sac and has a good sized section for the boys. We'd already made the decision that we would 'rough it' a little if need be for the next six months and take a cheaper rental to try and save more money towards the new house. Even though it's so much smaller it does have a single garage (which I think we'll need for the stuff we can't fit in the house) and an outdoor 4th bedroom with bathroom. This was a plus point in the event that our build gets delayed past Christmas as we have English Mum and Dad arriving from the UK to stay for six weeks in late January. And we liked the fact it is also only about 1 kilometre down the road from our new house build. Although it was being rented through a property management company, we also got to meet the owners which turned out to be a really positive move as they really liked us and vice versa.

So we were pretty thrilled to get a call late last week to say the place was ours if we wanted it and we could move in on the weekend we get up there - hurray - God's timing and provision turning out to be totally awesome as always!

So it turned out to be a very productive week all round - the new house contract is with the lawyers and bank and should confirm this week, we have a rental and can now start to organise all our change of addresses, we've signed up with a moving company and confirmed moving and delivery dates with them, and we also just bought a new car on the weekend as well (another must have as Mark will be losing his company car and we will need two cars with us both commuting to Hamilton most days and Mark further afield to the other Evolution Cycles stores). All this adds up to lots of big ticks on the very long to-do list - which this little list maker loves (ha ha!).

And all in all we are feeling very positive towards this new adventure God has in store for us!

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