This rural retreat proves small budgets and good design do go together

1 April 2020

Faced with a small budget and big design ideas, the PAC Studio team sweated each and every detail, seeking the most efficient plan possible to create this beautifully designed space

Q&A with Sarosh Mulla and Aaron Paterson of PAC Studio

A modest home and a generous cabin, this is a stripped-back design for PAC. Talk us through its workings.

Sarosh Mulla: We don’t believe that money should be a barrier to good design. PAC Studio has a reputation for making obsessively detailed houses, and the Pahi house is no exception. Instead of concentrating on crafted and labour-intensive detailing – not possible given the budget – we put our energy into the equally rewarding pursuit of efficient and compact planning, with a generosity of volume and light. Much of our energy was spent on the proportion of rooms, positioning of windows and abiding by a relentless grid module.

What materials have you used and why?

Aaron Paterson For the exterior, we used shiplap cladding from Abodo, a New Zealand-owned company that makes sustainably grown, thermally modified timber that’s perfect for harsh environments like Pahi. The roof is a classic dark-green metal profile, and aluminium joinery is nice if you get the proportions right. For the interior, we used painted plywood floors that gives texture without breaking the bank. Ubiquitous plasterboard kept the cost down. We need to give a shout-out to nature for being awesome; we didn’t want to spoil the entry vibe with a concrete driveway, so we went with local gravel.

Building on a budget is tough in this country. Do you see any foreseeable change to that scenario?

Sarosh Mulla: Prefabrication offers efficiency and cost savings that have not been fully realised in the single-house market – this will change. Both labour and materials are expensive due to our small market size, and while the market is buoyant, the cost to build will remain high. The good news is that intelligent design can save money.

See more of the home below

Related articles

Coastal wilderness

On the divide between suburban street and wild dunescape, Brian White carves a retreat from a singular form.

Swamp house

The nickname “swamp house” expresses the home’s proximity to the marshy paddocks resting below it on the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka but it might give you the wrong idea about the climate on the high, elevated plateau.  For Kerr Ritchie’s Bronwen Kerr and

Modern lake bach

Bach living is a stripped-back approach to life: family time spent eating, playing board games and puzzles in the evening, and during the day getting outside and enjoying what the natural environment has to offer – water sports, backyard cricket and mountain biking.

Cruciform house

A spacious Mid-Century modern-inspired home in Orakei proves that you don’t need a huge amount of land to have four bedrooms and multiple living spaces, particularly when less than half of the home touches the ground.