The Huis Project: Peter Wolfkamp's Own Home Reno

Welcome to Huis House – Peter Wolfkamp’s own home renovation in the Auckland seaside suburb of Devonport.

You might recognise Peter as the Resident Builder on New Zealand’s The Block – he’s used to keeping others in line, however this time it’s his own turn.

Peter and his wife Debbie came across the run-down cottage with the intention of renovating to rent out. The home wasn’t in great condition, but they both recognised the potential it had.

Although the house would require a full rebuild, the cottage was full of charm and character, plus it had great street appeal. With Peter and Debbie’s combined skillset - Peter would work his building magic while Debbie would add style and flair. The home was ripe for renovation and ready for the Wolfkamp’s to stamp their mark on this appealing Devonport street.

Peter had one very simple but important goal for the Huis House, which was to “make it everything that kiwi homes are not – warm, dry and comfortable,” says Peter.

This simple goal would form the foundations of the home, ensuring each and every decision complied and aligned with this concept.

To reach Peter’s goal, he set about seeing to all the ‘behind the scenes’ work that’s not always visible to potential tenants or homeowners. Peter re-lined the walls, fully insulated the home, installed underfloor heating and completely re-wired the electrics.

It’s Peter’s thorough work ethic, professionalism and hands-on approach that will make this home appeal to the market and means it will also outlast most other typical Kiwi homes.

When it came to the fireplace, his intentions were no different.

Although Peter says he “loves a traditional wood fire, they’re not always practical for everyday living”. He continues “heat also escapes up the chimney, and they create annoying draughts”.

Instead, he was looking for something with “practicality and ease of use” plus it had to be energy efficient and ideally, heat the whole home. It was for these reasons that he decided to choose gas.

Peter initially considered ripping out the entire “old, bulky and kind of annoying fireplace” but once they removed the timber cladding and exposed the original brickwork, they had a change of heart. While it bugged him that the surround wasn’t perfectly symmetrical, he also decided to embrace this instead as he felt it added to the history and authenticity of the cottage.

To modernise the bricks, Peter and Debbie decided to ‘bag’ the bricks with Resene Rockcoat – a type of raw brick render. The finished look allows the fireplace surround to be a focus point, without dominating the entire living space.

After working with Escea on several of his previous projects, he got in touch to see which fireplace would be suitable to fit into the existing fireplace surround. It needed to tick all of his boxes when it came to heating, efficiency and staying true to the cottage’s character features.

The Escea range of DF series gas fires were designed with renovations like Peter’s in mind, and the latest release in the series, the DF990 would be the perfect choice for the Huis House.

The DF990’s slim design and clean lines means it’s perfect for retrofitting into traditional open fireplaces like this.  The fire’s flexible flue system means the new flue can simply get fed up the existing chimney. And like all DF gas fires, the retrofittable fire is a room sealed unit which will keep the home dry and free of toxic fumes, plus with a heat output of up to 8.2kW, the DF990 will heat the whole home.

The fire’s smart phone control also appealed to Peter – with Escea’s Smart Heat app the fire can be operated directly from the homeowner’s smart phone for ease of use and convenience.

Once the Huis House was finished, it took all but a day or two for Peter to find tenants for the cosy cottage.

Because of Peter’s attention to detail and thorough approach, the end result is everything he set out to achieve, and more – it’s a warm, inviting home that’s dry, energy efficient and sustainable. He even admits that the new fireplace ‘stole the show’.

Although it took no time to rent the home out, Peter didn’t get a lot of time to put his feet up and bask in all his hard work – just two weeks after the Huis House wrapped up, his next project was due to start…


Learn more about the installation of the DF990 into the Huis Cottage here, or for more information on the DF990, see here.


Thinking of renovating? See Peter Wolfkamps 5 Key Considerations before starting a renovation project below. 

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