Upgrades paint fresh picture

A picture only paints a thousand words – so Russell’s got a few more to add.

Wycola Courts resident Russell is thrilled with the look and comfort of his new-look home.

“You won’t get how good it feels in your photos,” the Wycola Courts resident says as he opens the fridge in his new kitchen.

“The new carpet, the double glazing, the warmth, you won’t get all that, but you can give it a go. It’s amazing, that’s what it is. It’s amazing.”

He tops up his glass and gestures to his kitchen, to the bathroom on the other side of the passage, and to the lounge next door.

“Just look at it. You’d be paying hotel rates every day to live somewhere like this. It’s 100%.”

Before renovation, lounges were made smaller and harder to use by fake fireplaces, fixed cabinetry and a door that rendered wall space unusable. The windows and sliding door were single-glazed.

Russell’s home is among the first nine in his 30-strong community tackled in the OCHT-managed refurbishment programme.

As part of that work, the nearly 60-year-old homes are all-but gutted and their dilapidated and sometimes unnecessary features are consigned to the dump.

Bathrooms are reorganised and refitted with modern fixtures, kitchens get new everything, and all electrical items are replaced.

Fake fireplaces and pointless shelving are removed from lounges and bizarre bulkheads are removed to lift bedroom ceilings.

After renovation, the lounges have plenty of useable floor space, and space to arrange furniture near walls. The heat pump and LED light provide energy-conscious comfort in a room further insulated by thermally broken, double-glazed windows and doors.

Cavity sliders replace some doors, and the doors that remain no longer open onto useable wall space or into toilets.

It all means the one-bedroom homes get more useable space from the same footprint.

There’s stuff you can’t see, too. Some walls get new insulation and leak-prone under-floor copper pipes have been replaced.

With the most invasive work done, the homes are painted and get new floor coverings to complement their new blinds and thermal curtains.

Wycola’s kitchens were dated and had a mix of fixtures before renovation.

Their thermal envelope is improved, too, by thermally broken double glazed doors and windows.

They’re illuminated by LED lights and warmed by heat pumps.

“It’s better, much better – I haven’t even had to use the heat pump yet,” Russell says returning to his sundrenched patio.

“It’ll be a good winter.”

After renovation, Wycola’s kitchens are modern with uniform, hard-wearing surfaces and fixtures.

On the other side of the community, long-time resident Owen watches the work of ŌCHT’s contractors from his comfy chair.

The former diesel mechanic moved to Wycola Courts near Anzac Day in 2001. He says his new, old home is much better than the old, old one.

He can now arrange his lounge as he wants, unencumbered by a fake fireplace, fixed shelving and an invasive door.

“The wall space just wasn’t there, it felt like a much smaller place. But now I’ve got plenty of room.”

There was very little space to move in the bathroom/laundry before renovation.

His old his bathroom was so poorly designed that he used to dry himself in another room. Not anymore.

“It makes a big difference, it’s more useable, it’s modern, it’s like a new place.

“It’s a real credit to ŌCHT and the contractors.”

Like Russell, Owen says his home is “100% warmer – the temperature is good, I haven’t had to use the heat pump yet”.

The new bathroom/laundry areas pack a lot into the same space – but with more space to move.

“You can see the difference, and you can feel it, too.”

ŌCHT project manager Nigel says plenty has been packed into a refurbishment that maximises the homes’ layout.

Subtle improvements, such as installing slim-line showers and removing a bulky cupboard, all add up.

They add up to great homes – and to remarkable feedback from tenants.

A dropped ceiling in the bedroom makes the space seem cramped – it’s gone in the new-look homes.

“I just love hearing people’s comments about the work, it’s great knowing this is making a difference,” Nigel says.

“Mate, I think that’s awesome.”

Work at Wycola continues – and more refurbishments are planned in the coming years as funding allows.

  • ŌCHT manages major maintenance works at the Christchurch City Council-owned properties it leases from the council. The council funds this work.

Removing the dropped ceiling improves the bedroom space.

Published May 12, 2022

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The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust
61 Kilmore St,

Hours: 8.30 am-5.00 pm, Monday-Friday.

Postal: PO Box 53, Christchurch 8140

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