Shielded Site

2022-06-15 11:17:59 By : Ms. Li Wang

It may be being built from second-hand shipping containers, but this is no low-budget tiny home.

After all, it's being built by a former Manhattan developer who once had two waterfalls built into his New York City condo. The waterfalls fed a koi pond in the living room – a scaled replica of China’s Yangtze River.

Colin Rath’s latest project is a four-bedroom, 287 square metre home being built from nine shipping containers on his vineyard overlooking the Waipara river in North Canterbury.

Rath and his wife bought the Fiddler’s Green Vineyard and Bistro five years ago, and have been restoring the vineyard to production since. They are also running a restaurant on site, as well as growing hemp and harvesting olives for pressing into extra virgin olive oil.

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Rath says he had long wanted to build with containers. “And there’s an abundance of them. Most are sold once they sit here for a while.”

Shipping containers are “perfect building blocks”, he says, as they can sustain pressure on any angle, are earthquake-proof and can be easily insulated and fitted out.

He was previously involved in a container modular construction project for housing during his 20-plus years in real estate development in New York, saying that one of the benefits there was that the houses could be worked on 24/7 in a factory off-site, and installed once finished.

For his own home, he came up with the design, and had Tauranga-based container build company Earthcube Designs draw up the plans. It took a year to get the building and resource consents approved.

It's currently in a “pretty raw” state, and he is doing much of the work himself.

“I’ve been doing home renovations pretty much since I was a teenager,” says Rath. “I’m doing a lot of the welding, cutting, carpentry...

“I’ve got the structural steel put in, power to it. We’re in the process of hooking up all the water from our reservoir (for vineyard irrigation) and sewerage.

”We’re still getting set up to cut out the windows,” Rath says.

The base containers of the design will be used for wine storage, as well as a laundry and bathroom. The stairwell will be within a vertical container.

The second floor is made up of two groups of two containers, separated by a wooden deck. The container on the east side will be a bathroom, kitchen and open-plan dining room/lounge.

Across the deck, the west side will comprise three bedrooms and two bathrooms for their three daughters: 15-year-old twins and a 20-year-old who is currently studying at Massey University in Wellington.

Each of the two sections will be cantilevered in opposite directions. The top floor will consist of a master bedroom, bathroom, storage and office with its own deck.

Rath plans to paint the exterior in a dark barn red, with “old vineyard posts used as fences and retaining walls”.

The house will have radiant floor heating and cooling. It will have solar panels and storage batteries, so it can be off-grid, Rath says.

The restaurant already has 50 solar panels, which supply all its electricity, and which charge the Raths’ Tesla X (falcon) electric vehicle. Chargers for electric cars are also available to the public.

He expects it will be finished by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the family is living in two-bedroom accommodation attached to the restaurant, that will eventually be available for bed and breakfast clients.

Rath and family arrived in Auckland in 2016 on their yacht after a two-year journey. Rath needed Overseas Investment Office permission to purchase the 27 hectare Waipara property.

Rath wrote and self-published a book in 2015 detailing his property development sagas in the US.