Tauranga is renowned for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches and laidback lifestyle. It’s also one of the fastest-growing regions in New Zealand thanks to its comparably affordable house prices and cost of living, and thousands of Kiwis are choosing to leave the ‘big smoke’ in favour of a more relaxed way of life in the Bay.

A lot of existing housing stock not to mention a large amount of vacant land to build on adds up to an area that’s ripe for home renovations. Local Refresh Renovations franchisee Cameron Ironside has lived in and around the Tauranga area for seven years, and currently lives in Omokoroa with his family (wife Michelle and two children aged 12 and seven years). The Ironsides have become chameleons of sort, having travelled the world extensively before settling down in New Zealand and living in a range of housing types along the way.

While he has been a Refresh franchise owner for 12 months, Cameron hasn’t always worked in the renovation sector – but he’s always dabbled. Originally from South Africa, Cameron is a lawyer by trade and ran a successful legal practice in Cape Town for 10 years. While living in South Africa Cameron had a portfolio of properties that he managed and renovated. At the same time his wife ran an interior painting company that employed only females. “In South Africa there is some risk in inviting people into your house so Michelle was able to offer a much gentler service,” says Cameron. “We found that the women we hired had more attention to detail and offered a better service when it came to painting interiors.”

Cameron went on to complete an MBA at Edinburgh University, staying in the UK for five years. While living in London he started working for a New Zealand company in the hydropower sector, managing projects that focused on developing nations. After making the move to New Zealand permanently, Cameron made the switch from the hydropower sector to the renovations industry in 2017 which, despite the two sounding very different, complemented Cameron’s skillset perfectly.

“I’ve brought my skills in attention to detail and management that come from being a lawyer and running your own business into Refresh,” he says. “Working in hydropower also required me to work across a lot of barriers – language, cultural and different states of development – which meant that I had to be incredibly flexible and manage people who came from completely different perspectives.”

Since working with Refresh, Cameron has worked on everything from extensions, bathrooms and kitchens, to roof replacements and repairing damaged buildings where structural walls have been removed. He says he’s seen two common renovation trends in his time with Refresh: modernising older homes to make them more suitable for modern living, and the realisation that renovating an existing home will give a homeowner more bang for their buck than selling up and buying somewhere else.

“A lot of homes in Tauranga are like small boxes, and are cold and draughty with not very good insulation,” he says. “Many people in these kinds of properties want to make their homes more appropriate to modern living, so that means making homes more open plan, adding extensions, adding an ensuite or second bathroom, or refocusing the living area around the kitchen.

“A second trend I’m seeing is that people are realising the value in renovating rather than selling up and buying a new place because they can retain more land. You can pay a lot of money for a very small piece of land where new homes are built right up against each other. People are realising that they can spend, say, $200,000 on a renovation and they’ll come out roughly the same as if they’d sold up and bought again – but they’ll get to keep their larger section while basically getting a new house out of it, plus they get to keep enjoying their existing lifestyle.”

Cameron works alongside local building contractors, from experienced builders who have previously built Houses of the Year right through to young guys who are bringing innovative ways of building and working to the trade. He regularly works with the same teams so they know each other well. The same goes with the architects and designers he works with, which is very helpful when it comes to the consenting process. “Our designers and architects have a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with council, which means they’re more likely to get the designs right first time.”

Ultimately, renovating a home is less about the structure of a house and more about seeing a homeowner’s dreams come true. “Some of the most exciting parts of the job include working with clients to get their thoughts on paper, and going through the process to pull everything together,” says Cameron. “The ability to turn thoughts and dreams into something that will actually transform a homeowner’s life is really exciting.”


Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project

If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

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