The Manor

Construction commenced in July 2013, and will see all three buildings completed and open for business by Christmas 2014. You can follow the progress of the build below.


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Willowbrook Park Manor House, Carriage House and Chapel had been under design since Summer 2010. Over 3 years the plans were progressively refined and were finalised in early 2013.


Landscaping commenced in 2010, and is now well established, providing English gardens and parkland, lakes, orchards, and woods as a dramatic backdrop for the Georgian architecture, as well as adding privacy and security for our guests.

Week 1
The diggers arrived yesterday and were poised to commence digging as soon as the building permit came through and the bank rubber stamped the contract. So, all was good and today, after 3 and a half years of preparation, we finally broke ground.



Week 2
Here are some photos and videos after the excavation has been completed, and filled in with compacted building sand ready for piling and concreting. The pad for the manor house is 36m x 22m. The pads for the carriage house and chapel are being excavated in a few weeks.





Week 3
The digger with a large auger boring holes for the piles to go into...

All the piles placed in the holes...


The piles all sawn off at the same levels...

Week 4 
Concrete poured around edge of site ready to start constructing the concrete and iron foundations...


Week 6
Once they had created all the boxing and poured the concrete they then filled in every single space remaining (i.e. the rooms) with compacting sand then compacted it down to a tight 3 foot tall layer, then laid down 6 inch thick seamless pads of high density polystyrene, and created another reinforcing layer of iron on top of these...
Finally, they poured inch layer of concrete over it all, and that was the foundation finished...

Thus the ground floor stands on a well over engineered, over insulated foundation that stands proud of the ground by over 3 feet, and down into the ground by 50 feet! Now they could start putting up the masonry for the walls...

Week 7
This week the block work for the load bearing walls started going up...
Luckily, the block work got up to almost half the height of the ground floor before the winter rain started to pelt down...
 But it can't have rained the whole time we were on holiday...


Week 12...

The masonry is almost up to the first floor. It is hard to get a scale of the Manor from the photos, and it certainly looks surprisingly small at this stage, but we are assured by many who have built houses before that they always look small when they are being built, and once they are finished and plastered they look more like one would expect. The width across the front of the house (below) is 36 metres (120 feet).

Below: View of the South Facade (Front of Manor House) from across the courtyard:
 
From left to right: Gold Drawing Room, Biliard Room, Foyer, China Room, and Dining Room.

Architect's Model and Elevation of same:

Below: Views of the North Facade:
Kitchen far left, Ballroom far right, and the Informal Entertainment Area in between, all opening out onto the North Terrace.

 Architect's Elevation of same:

Below: View of the West Facade, with the Ballroom on the left and Gold Drawing Room on the right The width of the manor in this view is 20 metres (66 feet):

 Architect's Elevation of same:

Below: The view of the East Facade, with Dining room on left and Kitchen on right:

Architect's Elevation of same:


 Above and Below: Panoramic views of the Informal Entertainment Area looking over the North Terrace


Below: 360 degree video of the Foyer

Week 14
Last week the mid-floor was poured...

 Below: View from The Foyer up towards first floor internal balcony.
Below: view from centre of the foyer up to the sky. Eventually this will be a view up to a central dome 24 feet above.
Below: View from first floor down to foyer with Willoughby in the doorway to the Billiard Room. The door to the Billiard Room is accidentally three feet too far to the left, but this will be remedied soon to ensure the doorway is centred on the view shown.
Below: Concrete skimmer sitting on site of Brideshead Suite. The reinforcing wire is laying on the site of the balcony above the North Terrace with the Limewalk, Bois de Marie, and Farm in the distance. 
 Below: View East from Brideshead Suite towards Badger's Wood.


Above: The Bell Lawn with BDM left and Badger's Wood right, and Urn en Flambeau in Centre.
Below: Comparison of same view on plan.

Week 18
This week the block work was finished for the second floor, ready for the trusses to go on hopefully by Friday. Then the builders will be having two weeks off for Christmas, before getting back into it (which is really neat, as most builders would take a month off over this period). We are tracking on time and on budget so far. At this rate the roof should be on early February, with lock up not too far behind that. They are also planning on starting construction of the Carriage House and Chapel in the new year, then the huge job of the interior fit out will start.


Week 21
After a couple of weeks off for Christmas, the builders have got straight back into the build. This week the trusses went up, ready for the slate roof to go on in a fortnight. We were originally going to have a 'slate-look' pressed steel roof, but our builders have managed to source some real slates, so it will now look even more authentic.



All the timber framing is up for the rooms on the second floor as well, and the plumbing is starting to go in. After the roof is on the windows and doors should arrive. Once they are installed the block work for the Colonnades, Carriage house and Chapel will commence.

Week 23
The roof arrives next week. This week they have completed all the scaffolding and have started on digging out the foundations for the courtyard, carriage house and chapel, as well as creating the raised cocktail lawn on the north side of the manor...


 Above and Below: Foundations for the courtyard and ancillary buildings.


 Below: The beginnings of the raised lawn.


Week 25
The Roof is now on. We are 1/3 of the way through the build, and tracking on time and on budget!

Above and Below: The newly-laid roof.

Week 27
South Elevation looking from end of drive over courtyard to front entrance. We are glad we chose to have four chimneys, instead of just two. It does give the house a better roof line....

One of the pressing jobs before winter sets in will be getting the driveway finished, with proper edging and top course of stone.

View of south west corner with left over lengths of foundation piles...

The East Elevation...

The West Elevation...

The North Elevation looking over the raised cocktail lawn towards the terrace.
Above: View towards manor from Urn en flambeau

Inside the foyer - looking up towards an internal balcony...

The Drawing Room, looking out onto the West Terrace... 

The view from the Music Room towards the Billiard Room... 

The view down the Salon towards the Music Room...

The view down the Salon towards the Kitchen... 

The view out of the kitchen window...  

The view from the kitchen towards the formal dining room (central door) with the Scullery on the left, and the Butler's Pantry on the right... 


View from the Dining Room back towards the kitchen, with the doors to east terrace on the right...

The wooden boxing for the start of the staircase in the foyer...

Update on stairs (15/03/14):
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The upstairs landing, with lift shaft ahead, and to the left of the lift shaft where the staircase will arrive...
 Above: The ceiling batons in the foyer

Below: The view from the landing towards the long gallery and the 'secret' door into my study...

Below: The view through my study wall into the master bedroom...

View from French doors of master bedroom northwards to 'headboard' wall of bedroom. Through this wall into the dressing room, and through the next wall into the master ensuite, then out onto the northern upper balcony...


View from the Blenheim Suite through the back-to-back ensuites towards the Chatsworth Suite...

 View of Chatsworth Suite towards the Potager garden...


Week 30
Things are still on track for a December opening. The piling for the foundations of the Carriage House got under way  last week (at least the drought has had some benefit - that the ground work has not been delayed by rain)...

Above: View of  Carriage House site from roof of green barn.

Below: View of the site from roof of The Manor. 

Peter and I ventured up onto the roof for the first time through the trap door to the large central area where the outside units of the air conditioning systems will be hidden from view.

Above: Peter atop the front gable with Mt Pirongia in the background.

Below: View of me atop the roof from the Bell Lawn.

 Below: The inside units for the air conditioning, which resemble turbo thrusters...

Below: The pad for the Chapel site and the West Colonnade...  

Above: View from the East.
Below: View of the North West corner.

Below: View of the West elevation.

The paint colour choices for the walls. The plaster for the manor, carriage house and chapel is going to be coloured to the same colour as the paint we choose, and will then have sandstone particles mixed with it so that the finished walls resemble sandstone...

Week 42
There was another moment of excitement this week as I received pictures of the carriage house starting to take shape. It is fun to see things which one has designed oneself on paper start to take on three dimensions.

The carriage house site has gone from this 10 weeks ago...

to this 8 weeks ago...

to this 4 weeks ago...

to this 2 weeks ago...

to this, this week...
Above photos are taken from the balcony above the front door. 

Below is a photo taken from the East towards the lake. 

Below: The beautiful golden hour of twilight catching the top of the gables. This view was taken from one of the Blenheim Suite windows.


Below: The view from the roof of the old barn. This view has until now shown the front of the manor, which is now almost fully obscured by the rising carriage house.



Above: The front elevation as planned.

Below: The front facade taking shape...

We are finally starting to track a little over budget and a little over time, but not much. I guess it is expected on a large project. We are now expecting to be up and running in January, but are hoping to still shift in by the end of the year. I look forward to sharing more photos when we hit week 50 of the build (2/3rds of the way through).

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