Meet the Owners of Hiro-En House

Why did you decide to hire an architect?

We felt the house was of historical significance and quality and needed the expertise of an architect. We wanted to make sure enough attention was given to improving the old part of the house, rather than just focusing on the new part and leaving the old one as it is. Although we had pretty firm ideas about what we wanted, we needed a lot of advice and the reality is that we had no hands-on experience in renovations – without an architect we would have been completely overwhelmed.

We saw some of Matt Gibson Architecture and Design’s work and could immediately see the strengths of the practice in design and build quality, and knew they had a lot of experience in restoring homes heritage.

Understanding what we could get for our budget was also a big factor for us. Although we extended our budget, the architects had procedures in place that meant we got regular cost checks throughout the process and made our own decisions about any cost increases.

Hiro-En House by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design.

Image: Shannon McGrath

How did you discover Matt Gibson Architecture and Design?

We discovered Matt’s practice through magazines in which his work was published. We inspected a number of houses that the company had renovated and found them all to our liking. In particular, we love the way the firm treats heritage buildings, restoring them while incorporating modern adaptations that fit comfortably into the old. We also appreciate the harmonious connection between interior and exterior on some of their projects, and the integration of the interiors with the garden. We have seen with our own eyes how they have brought daylight into the older buildings and we love that there is a refined yet relaxed feel to their interiors.

How did you prepare for your first meeting with the architect? Did you research what you were looking for?

Before meeting the architect, we did a lot of research and had lived in the house for a while, so we had a good idea of ​​what we needed and what worked and didn’t work in the old house. We also visited many homes open for inspection and put together a great magazine and Pinterest ideas file. We wrote a long brief, which was important for the architects to understand our needs, and also important for us, as it encouraged us to think more deeply about what we wanted. We interviewed several architects and although Matt Gibson Architecture and Design wasn’t the cheapest option, we were happy to pay a little more for the quality. We also felt that we would get along well with them!

The owners of Hiro-En House by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design wanted a sheltered outdoor space shaded from the western sun.

The owners of Hiro-En House by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design wanted a sheltered outdoor space shaded from the western sun.

Image: Shannon McGrath

What was your brief?

We had moved into the house about five years before. We were drawn in by its historic charm and grace, as well as the expansive garden. We are a family of five and needed a home that would work for the next two phases of our lives, that is, from our children’s teens through to young adulthood. We wanted spaces where they could happily entertain their friends and we could entertain ours, without being on top of each other or completely apart. We liked the idea of ​​the architects to designate the house in zones: the facade for more formal spaces, which were part of the old building; the rear for our main informal living areas, now connected to the rear garden; and the beds for the children upstairs. A separate home office was also a necessity as we work from home.

We wanted our house to be more integrated with the lovely back garden (which the previous additions did not). The addition of a sheltered outdoor living space with western sun protection was also important to us.

The design has changed and evolved; it’s a benefit of hiring an architect – you can test many ideas and along the way figure out what works for you.

A two-story fine-mesh stainless steel fabric sheet slips in to shield living areas from the harsh western sun.

A two-story fine-mesh stainless steel fabric sheet slips in to shield living areas from the harsh western sun.

Image: Shannon McGrath

Were you involved a lot in the building process?

We had four bidders for the project. The architect had referred us to three builders and we called on one of our own. In the end, we selected a builder that our friends had used and they did a great job of realizing Matt Gibson Architecture and Design’s vision. We visited the site every week and there were official site meetings fortnightly. Although we were very involved, we entrusted the management of the project to the builder and the architect. Sometimes it was nerve wracking, but we thought they were the experts and we were newbies to this process. Although some changes were made along the way, such as the introduction of a skylight in the new area, we were pleased that the cost didn’t skyrocket. The architects had very thorough and detailed working drawings and they told us at the start of construction that their projects rarely exploded or required more than 5% contingency – luckily they did. The builder was very reasonable with variations and ensured that costs were kept reasonable.

The older parts of the house are used for formal spaces.

The older parts of the house are used for formal spaces.

Image: Shannon McGrath

Is the result obtained by working with an architect what you expected?

Yes, we are delighted with the result. What we particularly like is the transition from old to new. The older parts are now revitalized and are used much better and more efficiently, which means space is not wasted.

The outside curtain was a left-field idea that we struggled with initially. After looking at several options, such as roof louvers and lower awnings, the higher awning used in combination with the curtain was an option that met our requirements – allowing us to see the sky and let the sun shine in. winter while limiting western glare and providing a sheltered location. outdoor space. The use of lighting, both natural daylight and artificial light, is something we also particularly like. This makes the house spacious, airy and dynamic.

What advice would you give to someone considering hiring an architect? And would you hire an architect again?

Our advice is to visit the architect’s previous work to fully understand his style and talk to some of his other clients. I think it’s also fair to suggest that a large budget is practical. But the fact remains that you must also trust your own judgement. Matt Gibson Architecture and Design understood that our home was not a museum piece but a home and the place we live in, so that meant balancing aesthetic beauty with livability. We would hire an architect again, but hope we don’t have to as this is our forever home.

Read the review of Hiro-En House by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design.

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