Coming Home to Hanley's Farm


Michel moved to New Zealand from Switzerland 37 years ago, after meeting his wife, Hine. “I came for the ski season, as a ski instructor, and the second year I met my wife to be. Then we commuted between Switzerland and New Zealand for about 13 years,” Michel says. “We bought our first house in ‘88, in Sunshine Bay, Queenstown.”

Michel runs the snow sports school at Coronet Peak and is very fond his adopted home of Queenstown. “It’s a place where you can settle down and take the opportunity that is offered to you, not only work wise but life wise,” Michel says. “There’s a lot of activities you can do; you can buy a piece of land and build, and live here and have a good time.”

The couple lived in Fern Hill for 25 years before putting their house on the market and buying a section in Shotover Country six years ago. “In Fern Hill, we had a three-level house with stairs. It was always up and down so we decided to downsize,” Michel says. “It helped us to build at Shotover Country.”

“I had no idea where to start, so I looked around at a few companies,” Michel says. “When I met Damian it was so easy. I had Julian as a project manager, and we didn’t have any headaches. The process went so well.”

So when it came to building an investment property, Michel knew what to do. “There’s no money in banking these days, so you may as well invest in property,” Michel says. “I just went to talk to Damian and he said ‘yep, we can do that.’ It was easy the second time around because I had expectations and they were met.”

The Hanley Farm 400m2 investment property’s concrete slab went down in June 2019 and the 193m2 build was finished by December. For the floor plan, Michel started with a sketch of his own and worked with Damian to reach the finished product.

“Because it was a small section, the challenge was to fit a house with the maximum sun and maximum play area,” Michel says. “We ended up with a really nice property.”

It features double glazing, maximum insulation, an attic, and a garage fitout fashioned with plywood rather than plaster. Within the four-bedroom home, there’s a media room, spacious living and kitchen with walk-in pantry, bathroom, wash closet and an en suite attached to the master.

Interior decorator Jo helped Michel and the family with the internal details of the home. “Jo has the knowledge to tell us ‘hey, for the same price you can have fire-resistant curtains; safer for the people in the house,” Michel shares as an example.

“I can count, I can visualise space and volume, but I can’t make a decision on colours, materials and fabrics,” Michel says. “On the first build, I did it myself. I wish I would have gone with Jo because this time around everything was on time.”

On the advice of Damian, Michel used painted Aerobrick on the home’s exterior. “Which is fireproof as well as insulating and light,” Michel says. “You don’t get this expertise if you do it yourself.”

The whole process was as easy and seamless as the first time Michel built with Classic. “Building a new house is slower than buying a residence, but you have a new build with the latest insulation specifications and the 10-year building warranty is a plus,” Michel says. “If you know nothing about building, or very little, it’s a piece of cake.”

“For me, I am very happy to teach you to ski or snowboard,” Michel says. “To build a house you go to the experts. It comes down to the people your dealing with. I can’t fault them.”