Carrying complementary skills across construction and project management, Matamata couple Chris Hodgkinson and Sharon Connolly are forging a successful career in property development.
They are achieving this through their business Vida Homes which they established five years ago.
In 2014 they presented the standard of residential build that would become their signature, when they built their first Villa show-home.
The design, quality of build and fit-out were recognised by the industry in the form of Gold and Gold Reserve awards at the 2016 Master Builders House of the Year competition.
Now operating their business activity out of a pod-like space at Cambridge Park Oval they have stamped their mark in the form of a precinct of single story cottage-like homes on one side of the green space and double story residences on the opposite side.Concentrating on the high-end ‘final home’ market proved the right decision.
“We thought long and hard about where we wanted to place ourselves in the residential building sector, and we knew we weren’t interested in competing in the part of the market best served by group housing companies,” says Sharon.
Regardless of the design of each home, the same principles apply, including an emphasis on generous spaces, top quality workmanship and high-end products and finishing.
In this year’s Waikato Master Builder House of the Year Awards Vida Homes again entered an out-standing ‘modern romantic’ villa for a couple basing their future life in Cambridge.
To their delight the home captured both a regional Gold and Category Win, along with the Supreme award for the Waikato and a subsequent national Gold Reserve award placing it in the top 100 homes in New Zealand.
Extensive use of top quality weatherboards, large verandas with wooden balustrading, bay windows and colonial windows stamp the design with a solid traditional feel, while inside the spaces have been fitted out with modern features throughout. A large brick chimney is a feature of the home’s exterior.
“It’s a beautiful home with ornate steps to the leadlight front door and I think with the fit-out we have found the right balance between the Villa era and delivering technologies and features inside that meet the needs of modern living.”
Topping off this great home is a large internal entry garage with an enormous loft space.Another opportunity presented when the couple were approached by the developers of Cambridge Park to view plans drawn for seven homes around the Cambridge Park Oval.
“I took one look at the designs and thought they could do better. So we presented a new design concept based on an English Village Green and the developer loved it,” Chris says.
Sharon describes their way of determining design standard is to simply ask themselves if they would be happy living in the home.
“We got that feeling really early with the Villa and we find the majority of our builds invoke the same response from us.”
Vida Homes is a small company, with Chris and Sharon at it’s core. She says the decision to pitch themselves at the ‘last home’ market, delivering the quality of design and finish expected from people who have worked hard through their lives to the stage where they want to live very comfortably and enjoy this period of their lives, was defi nitely the right one.
“Unlike group housing systems, our contract price delivers top quality fittings as standard, so our clients aren’t paying any more to get the best,” says Sharon.
Their business operates out of a pod-like structure on site at Cambridge Park and when Business Central spoke with the busy couple, they were involved in a joint venture with award-winning Urban Homes, to develop the two remaining Oval frontage sites.
Along with other projects, Sharon says ideally they would love to continue to build one special villa each year.The couple both acknowledge the value of belonging to Master Builders.
“Attending the Waikato Awards event this year it was great to see so many young and like-minded builders carrying the same work ethic and standards as we do. It bodes well for the future of the residential building sector in this country” says Chris.
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