Historic stone house sells for top price in tiny Otago town

One of Central Otago’s oldest stone houses sold just before Christmas after an eight-year renovation that the owners admit nearly broke them.

Brigitte Paterson, the Harcourts agent who marketed the four-bedroom two-storey 1880s home, said the Queenstown-based buyer planned to make the house in the small town of Roxburgh, about 90 minutes away, her permanent home.

While the agent couldn’t disclose the sale price, she said it was over $1 million making it one of the top sale prices for the town. That was in line with the price indication back in October when she listed the property for a tender closing in mid-November.

“It is probably the third sale over $1m for a small lifestyle property in the last five years. It’s pretty rare to get a sale over $1m,” Paterson said.

She said interest had been high in the property, one of only two larger two-storey stone properties in the Teviot Valley, although she had expected more interest from business owners keen to turn the adjoining studio, shedding and glasshouse/grape arbour into a cafe or wedding venue.

“I was surprised that somebody looking for a business opportunity didn’t pick it up because it has the aspects about it that would definitely be a fantastic art gallery or cafe,” she said.

 

“A lot of inquiry came out of the North Island, but a lot of them had to sell a property to buy a property. So the timing wasn’t quite right for a lot of them. Interest came from right around New Zealand rather than just within our region.

“It was a unique and beautiful house. It was very eye-catching.”

The owners had earlier told OneRoof that updating the run-down 1880s building from its near-derelict state had taken its toll.

“I really loved the story of the house. It just had a really deep history of the valley being probably one of the original homes that was built here and frequented by people all the time and was somewhere people stopped and got provisions,” one of the owners said.

The house on the Roxburgh-Ettrick Road, which had once sold provisions and still had stabling from when it housed a carrying business in the 1880s, was damp and mouldy, with pinex tiles stapled to the ceiling and cornices yellow with age.

The family, who bought it in 2015, ended up replacing the floors, adding gutters, rewiring and upgrading heating and insulation before moving in a year later. The couple found time in between running a business and raising a young family to renovate the rest of the home.

“It also kind of broke us a bit. We would just get exhausted and burnt out and we would be like we just need to stop for a bit because it’s taking over our lives. Every weekend we would be doing stuff and would be like we just need to enjoy our lives a little bit.”

One owner broke her leg after falling off a ladder while removing wallpaper from the six-metre high stairwell, and then battled breast cancer, and the renovation faced delays through Covid lockdowns.

On the upside, the former glasshouse was turned into an impressive pergola to host the couple’s wedding, and the owners carefully sourced designer wallpapers, a stylish kitchen, clawfoot bathtub and heritage fittings.

“They’ve done it from the ground up. There’s not one piece they haven’t touched or improved,” Paterson earlier said.

“Honestly the house is just like a hug. There’s something about the atmosphere of those stone houses, I don’t know if it’s because the walls are so thick but it just exudes this awesome, awesome feel.”

It was a good week for heritage stone buildings in the township, as six days later, Paterson also sold a stone church on the Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road that had been on the market for less than a month.

Paterson said the former Coal Creek Church, known as Kirkburn, had been owned by a Southland couple for 16 years, who had decided they no longer wanted a second property. A former owner, a potter, had renovated the place to include a studio and retail shop.

“You can definitely tell it had been developed by artists, it had lots of quirky artistic features. The buyers hadn’t been looking, they just saw it online and fell in love with it, came and looked at it,” Paterson said.

“There were a surprising number of goose-bumpy connections for the buyer – she’s an artist, her father is an artist and knew the potters who had lived there before. She had spent a night there as a baby and her daddy took photos of it.”

That property sold for “in the $800,000s”, she said.

Paterson said that Roxburgh and the Teviot Valley were seen as the last affordable parts of Central Otago.

“Buyers like our lady from Queenstown, she fell in love with the Teviot Valley about five years ago. She came down here for an open home and I gave her a tour of the valley. We appeal to those people who are disenchanted with those bigger centres that have just got too big.

“We’ve got all your day-to-day [shops], great cafes and people go to Alexandra [30 minutes away] for the Mitre 10 and so on.

“The cycle trail is amazing, we’ve got a really challenging golf course and walking tracks and water sports. The gem of the valley is being discovered.”

Lovers of history are in luck with a third heritage stone place Paterson is currently selling.

The remarkable pair of 1850s cottages on 36 Scotland Street, Roxburgh, consists of a humble one-room cottage built in 1855 and a second two-bedroom cottage added to the 506sqm riverside site a decade later.

The pair of homes – the larger one with modifications that include a newish roof and kitchen, separate living and dining rooms, as well as two bathrooms – is named after their original owner, Daniel Dalton.

“It used to be owned by some French Americans. They owned it for 30 years and they put a new roof on it. They may have insulated when they did that. But we don’t know,” Paterson said.

“It is fantastic to have such a good story. When I had to write the marketing, I was ‘I’m just going to write the story’.

“The current owners have been there maybe 10 years. They were domiciled in Dunedin and they bought it as a little holiday house for themselves. And as frequently happens, people start holidaying here and then make a permanent move here. And so they bought a permanent home, which also has a lovely old cottage on it. So they’re running the two cottages as tourist accommodation.”

Paterson said the property, which has a CV of $360,000, would likely sell for that price or more “for our sellers to want to part with it”.

She said the town – half way between Dunedin or Invercargill and the ski fields of Wanaka and Queenstown – was having its moment.

“You can still get extraordinary value for money in the Teviot Valley, but that has changed post-Covid. We had a 34% increase year-on-year, we have been steadily growing and we didn’t have any correction, the prices weren’t ridiculous.”

 

Credit: OneRoof and journalist Catherine Smith