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BurgerFuel founder develops luxury rural coastal escape
And there’s a good reason why he's doing it.By Gill South 20 July 2023
What do you do when the section in front of your home, which has beautiful sea views, comes up for sale? Well, if you don’t want your own views built out, and you’ve got the finances, you might have the luxury to buy the site, design a home that won’t obstruct your outlook, and sell it.
And that’s exactly what BurgerFuel founder, Chris Mason, is doing at his rural coastal home in Snells Beach, his aim is to protect his views over Kawau Bay and to Kawau Island, whilst building an eye-catching contemporary home for a future neighbour.
It’s not a plan for the faint-hearted in this ever-changing property market but Chris had developed a lot of properties as he grew the BurgerFuel chain nationally and overseas. He was happy to take on the project management to build this architecturally-designed home.
And he’s had a good team of support. Chris’s own house was designed by local architect Grant Neill, a director of Pacific Environments, so he approached Grant about designing this project.
With a desire to give the new home beautiful views to Brick Bay vineyard and Kawau Bay, Grant came up with a 320 sq m design, which divided the home into three connected pods set into a hillside. Each pod, which varies in size, has a different purpose – one for work and creating, one for living and eating, the other for sleeping and relaxing.
“The overall concept was that this was very much a house designed for a family, but having the flexibility to work from home, to give each other privacy, and allow the teens to have some space,” says Grant.
The media room and office go into the first pod above the double garage (Pod A), so you can bring clients directly there, without having to walk through the main living of the house in Pod B. The internal stairways between each pod takes you up half a floor, he adds.
Grant has given each of the pods large corner windows to break up the block look which can happen. “It engages the house with the street,” he says.
Chris’s team also includes local master builder Zane Broadbelt of Broadbelt Builders who renovated his existing property and whose expertise is key in accomplishing this ambitious new project.
With four bedrooms, two living areas, a workshop, media room and creative office space, the home’s been designed to have lots of living, says Chris.
The 1590 m² site at 6 Arabella Lane is very private and there are no neighbours. Chris’s place is about a football field away which will be a nice change for any urban Aucklanders who buy the home, he says.
Project managing and selling privately too
The BurgerFuel founder decided to sell the planned Brick Bay Heights home privately because he’s onsite a lot and living nearby. “I think having an intimate knowledge of the building, its complexity and cost will help me walk someone through a private sale process,” he explains.
Chris says he’s targeting buyers from Auckland who are sick of the traffic, the noise and being crammed in.
”They’re coming up to see friends in Omaha or Matakana and going to the wineries or beaches up here,” he says. “I think once they see the big sky and wide open spaces of the area they’ll be hooked.”
At the new home, the vendor has created an amphitheatre as part of the landscaping, setting a pool into it next to the living, eating and entertainment pod facing north east. There’s also a west-facing lanai and outdoor fireplace for a sunny relaxed evening rural outlook.
The off-plan home, which has started construction and is due to complete in Q3 or Q4 of 2024, is on the market for $4.4 million.
“If someone pops up in the next few months, and is interested, they’ll get to influence the build and can take part in material and design choices,” says Chris. “Having project oversight takes all the stress out of the build and the buyer can get the product they want,” says Chris, who’s working with his wife Caro on the project.
“It’s taken about 18 months of design drafts and finalised plans to get it to this point and we feel we will deliver a great product,” he says. They’re using Te Kuiti stone, solid plaster, blackened brass details, bluestone tiles in the new home and there’s likely to be cedar cladding on two pods to soften the concrete look on the middle pod.
The living space includes an Escea double-sided fireplace, Europe kitchen with scullery and wet bar while the main bedrooms are largely in the final pod at the back, with the primary suite a true retreat, according to Chris.
The home will have EV-charging, solar panels with battery storage, and Chris and Caro are currently considering a windmill system on this ridge position so the home could be fully self-sufficient powered by wind and solar.
Snells Beach on the rise as a location
Chris believes Snells Beach is a location that’s increasingly attractive to Aucklanders who want a bit more space but don’t want to be too far out. He knows the area well because his mother has lived there for the past 25 years and it’s where he returned after 10 years away overseas.
He works in the Auckland CBD three days a week and when he sets off at 5 am, driving on the newly-opened Northern corridor on State Highway 1, he’s at the base of the Auckland Harbour Bridge by 5.30 am.
“It’s very commutable or an easy drive for an Aucklanders’ second home,” says Chris.
On Kawau Bay, Snells Beach is a lovely Pohutukawa-lined long walking beach and it's close to the area’s main town of Warkworth, around eight minutes away, he adds.