When the registered Master Builders House of the Year Regional Winners were announced last week in Auckland, Richard and Hannah Warwick, owners of HAMR Home – Whitianga, and their building team and clients, were stars of the night. Their company, HAMR Home, won four awards. The judging region is huge – Auckland, Northland and Coromandel.
Richard and Hannah entered two of the homes that HAMR Home had built, with Dan Gaskell and Mac O’Connor being the lead builders on these jobs; one in Leeward Drive owned by Diane and Graham Eccles and one in Cook Drive owned by Julian Waters.
HAMR Home has collected 16 other Regional and National awards prior to 2023.
“This was our tenth year entering House of the year and we feel really proud that every year we have entered, we have had a consistent ‘Gold’ standard for our homes, no matter what the budget is,” says Richard. Hannah and I are very focused on providing the best experience possible for our customers. Our building crews, led by Dan and Mac, right through to our subcontractors and suppliers make this possible. We have won Gold for the two categories we entered.”
Resene New Homes $2m to $4m category – Gold Award and top 100
This 512sqm beauty on Cook Drive is built and designed with an eye on future climate and weather conditions. Steel and cedar cladding will withstand wind and sun, and multiple covered deck areas make the most of outdoor living, rain, or shine. Inside the light and airy four-bedroom, three-bathroom home. Futureproofing is also evident with a lift that provides greater accessibility and there’s a state-of-the-art Control4 home automation system.
Plus winner of APL Environmental and Sustainable Excellence Award and PDL by Schneider Electric Smart Home Award
Judges comments referred to the fact that the home has sustainability as front of mind.
The electronic features are well thought through to make life easy for the homeowners giving them the ability to control almost everything in the house, from anywhere, with a mobile phone.
The home had so many natural features as well.
Carters New Homes $1 million -$1.5 million – Gold Award and top 100
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom home is situated on the south-east side of the Whitianga Waterways. This contemporary build is clad in materials that tie into the natural setting: plaster and cedar and an asphalt shingle roof. Vaulted tongue-and-groove ceilings, large windows and a stylish portico create relaxed coastal charm. The private enclosed outdoor area on the north side, features large decks and a sparkling Narellan pool. Indoors is a separate media room, which adjoins the main living space with large glass and aluminum barn doors as a divider. There’s an entertainer’s kitchen for keen foodies. The main bedroom features its own study nook, double walk-in wardrobes and a canal-facing en-suite. Everything is in its place.
How the judging works: Each property is judged against a scorecard of 2000 points (1300 Workmanship and 700 Design, Style and Functionality). Note: Multi Unit properties are judged (1100 Workmanship and 900 Design, Style, Functionality, and general consideration). Properties are then awarded either Gold, Silver, Bronze, or no award as set out in the diagram below. We are part of the Auckland region which goes right up to Cape Reinga and extends to the due of the Waikato beyond Tairua.
“To win the Gold medals for our builds is amazing, but to get the Smart Home Award and the Environmental Award is an extra achievement and it’s awesome.”
HAMR Home has also made it through to the top 100 houses in New Zealand. “That’s not a given just because you win an award for your region,” says Richard. “You are compared with all the other award winners nationally. Now the whole 100 houses will get re-judged for the national awards.
Two judges will now go right round the whole country to look at the homes. They will come to Whitianga to Judge the two winning homes on 4th October. Not many companies have two homes in the national judging.
This is home: Richard and Hannah love what they do and they love Whitianga. “I grew up on the North Shore in Auckland, but my mother was born here in Whitianga. We came here for holidays and stayed with my Poppa (Boy Smith) or at my sisters,” says Richard. “When I got my licence, I started coming up almost every weekend, and moved here in 2000. My great grandparents used to farm in Whangapoua in the early 1900’s. My family are the Cholmondeley Smiths.” “We met in Whitianga,” says Hannah. “I’m from South Taranaki, but our family holidayed here since the eighties. We did a lot of travelling before we got married. After we married, I soon realised that Richard was never going anywhere else but Whitianga.”
They set up home in Whitianga in 2005, after returning from the UK. Richard lost his job in 2009 when the company he was working for went into liquidation. He couldn’t find a job that would pay their mortgage and so the pair went into business for themselves. It took eighteen months before they got their first house to build, just managing on small jobs in the interim while raising their two small daughters (with another daughter added to the family in 2012).
They are a team throughout, Hannah doing all the office and the accounts and helping clients with colour schemes and selections, while Richard works the construction side and the design and build concepts. “I’m really just the Project Manager now, however the boys do let me help out on site at times,” he smiles. “What works for us is that we only have two houses going at once. As you get near completion for one house, we can begin the next, so the maximum is four but with always two very near finished.”
Their first home was built in 2011, and since, then HAMR Home has had an average of 80 to 90 percent new builds. The homes being built now are No.33 and No.34.
“The most enjoyable part is working with the clients,” says Hannah. “When we meet with people before we start building a house, we are committing to having a relationship with our clients for the next 10 to 15 years. They have trusted us with their most asset, and they form great relationships with our whole team.”
“It can’t be just rush, rush, rush and pump it out,” Richard adds. “Sure, you must make a profit, but we have to walk away feeling proud of what we have done. I need to stand by our houses for ten years as a licensed Building Practitioner and Master Builder. We research a lot before we come up with any design,” says Richard. “We use New Zealand companies as much as possible and we also use all local contractors and suppliers where possible. When we specify a product, we check on the stock and buy in advance to secure that stock. This means we cut down delays.”
Discussing changes in the industry, Richard points out that the quality of work in general has had to increase. “There has been a whole lot more regulation and red tape which can be a headache, but I believe people have lifted their game, because now there is personal liability. Before it was company liability which disappeared when you closed the company. That doesn’t apply now and you can’t do that in a small town. A reputation for consistent quality and delivery is first base.”
In addition, Richard reflects on what is HAMR Home’s distinctive mark. “We are essentially a bespoke design and build or architectural building business – say 30 percent architectural and the rest, design, and build. Somewhere in nearly every home is western red cedar. That is my favourite timber. Our other signature is our raking tongue and groove ceilings which we have in almost every house.”
The future: “I’m really proud of our team and what we have achieved,” says Richard. “The team puts up with me being fussy, but they are fussy as well. We feel inspired to keep up our standard in high quality work. It is very rewarding for our staff and our clients. The sense that we are doing some of the best work in the country; that’s such a good feeling.”
Another Theme: Richard: “I’d like to push the rebranding of SH 25A. My suggestion is Pacific Coast Highway Link. (Richard says he has written to the Mayor and Waka Kotahi – they like the idea). Richard will be pleased to know that Alan Hopping from The Lost Spring and Mercury Bay Business Association are promoting similar ideas.