Thu, May 11, 2023 9:00 AM

Discover the difference


Tessa Jaine

There is nothing builder Ben Grady from Discovery Homes loves more than seeing his customers thriving in a new home. After thirty years of renovating the villas he and wife Jo had lived in, they decided it was time to build a new home for themselves.

Words: Adrienne Matthews | Photos: Matt Croad

“It was exciting to start from scratch and be able to design a home incorporating all of our favourite features,” says Jo.

Ben had been building a home for clients who were subdividing their land and spied a beautiful north-facing section available next door. Over the years the owners had transformed the ‘half acre’ from a sheep paddock into a piece of paradise with trees including a majestic oak, rimu, kauri, totara, and other native species. “We couldn’t resist it,” says Ben.


He and Jo drew up sketches which Bronwyn Duffy of Max Architectural Design transformed into plans.

The house consists of three mono-pitched pods with 3.6-metre-high raking ceilings which are joined together by lower atriums at 2.4 metres. “We wanted our master bedroom at one end, a ‘living hub’ in the middle with kitchen, lounge, dining, and the remaining three bedrooms, master bathroom, laundry, and guest room with ensuite in the last section,” explains Jo.

The home’s RibRaft foundation has 1.5 kilometres of plastic piping running through it, a PolarEnergi system through which heated water is pumped during colder months. “There are eight thermostats throughout the house,” says Ben,” and we can have different temperatures in different rooms. It is the first house we have ever lived in that when we wake up in winter, it is a toasty twenty-one degrees.”


Solar panels are installed on the roof to supply power to the heat pump that heats the water. “The double fire that straddles the dining and living rooms is really just for ambience,” he says.

The framing is constructed from 140mm timber rather than the more commonly used 90mm. “This allowed for thicker insulation,” says Ben.

The house is clad in sumptuous recycled Australian hardwood made from telephone poles from LMA Timber in Christchurch. “I have subsequently used it on several other houses we have built,” says Ben. “It is marvellous to work with being heavy, solid and straight and has a lovely warm glow.” It also pairs well with the ebony black roof and window and door frames along with the copper spouting, downlights, tapware and bottle traps. “I just love copper.” laughs Ben.


The extensive window area is double-glazed Argon filled Low E glass with high-tech coating, chosen for its ability to help keep the home cool in summer and warm in winter. “We actually have a green-tinted version that I had never used before,” says Ben.” It reflects the lovely green of the outdoors.” Electric blinds are a popular addition throughout the house.

Black aluminium louvres in the hallway provide excellent air circulation which helps keep the house cool in summer.


It was important for the Grady family to have a library as Ben’s father was well-known journalist and writer Don Grady. “Our house was always full of books, so a library was a must-have,” he says. It sits behind two large glass and steel walls engineered for the space.

A main feature of the living areas is the extra-large 1.2m Italian floor tiles. “With such an expansive area and the extra ceiling height, smaller ones would have looked really busy,” says Ben.

Bays Joinery provided the kitchen which boasts a carbon-neutral Dekton benchtop made from artificial stone which is highly resistant to heat, stains and scratches. The Neff oven was chosen because the oven door slides in under itself.

To save space throughout the house and prevent doors banging in the Marlborough breezes, all the internal doors are 2.4m tall cavity sliders. “We love this because it allows for extra wall space in all the rooms,” says Jo.


The master bathroom is divided into wet and dry areas. A Concrete Nation bath is the feature of this space along with matching handbasin. Used in all three bathrooms, the clay colour basins were chosen to compliment the copper tapware. In the master ensuite, an infrared sauna is Jo’s wellness escape.


The master bedroom’s feature wall, designed by Emma Hayes, reminds Ben of local grapes, and “mirrors the greenery of the garden, giving a serene, peaceful feel,” says Ben.

Now that their own house is complete Ben is back building homes for others along with renovations as required. “As a past president of Certified Builders Marlborough, and a member of Master Builders, I am aware of the importance of training youngsters in the industry and particularly enjoy passing my experience and knowledge onto apprentices.” His son Lewis has just started his apprenticeship, keeping the love of building in the family.

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