Not everyone would buy a house with their friends, but for one bunch of 30-somethings it seems to be working out so far.
Elissa Jordan and Glynn Rudolph had found many desirable houses to be out of their price range, so they asked two of Rudolph’s best friends, James Culleton and Ben Godfery, to come in on the deal. Though Jordan, a Canadian native, and Rudolph had met while working overseas, he had known the others for nearly two decades. And by joining forces, they were able to afford a beautiful, spacious modernist house nestling under the Ngaio hills. Buying individually, Jordan says, “you have to compromise, you have to get something modest. And none of us wanted to do that. We wanted to be comfortable right off the bat.”
The house, built in 1996 and previously owned by a Dutch couple, is indeed impressive, extending through a series of generously sized living areas, all outlined in clean, sharp edges, and spread over two floors.
Having moved in only on Queen’s Birthday weekend, the fabulous four are still stamping their mark on the house. Its previous occupants had the place looking like “a show home”, with “decadent” furniture, Jordan says. “It was gorgeous but it was the sort of place where you felt like you couldn’t touch anything. We have gone for a more comfortable feel.”
The house now features a number of Jordan’s colourful abstract paintings, made after she arrived in New Zealand with Rudolph. And while all four have ideas about the decor, she tends to have the final word. “Ben had a lot of things from the 1970s,” Culleton says, laughing, “but a bunch of those went up and they got removed real quick.”
Jordan works three jobs, as a project manager at Consumer NZ, a yoga teacher, and the author of the Winey Little Bitch wine blog. Of the men – who “all come from a relatively nerdy background”, as they put it – Godfery and Rudolph both work in IT, while Culleton is an air traffic controller.
The house’s well-organised kitchen – complete with built-in deep-fryer – gives free range to the cooking talents of Culleton and Rudolph, both of whom made the shortlist for the next MasterChef New Zealand series. Culleton is “heavily focused on very aromatic and spicy cuisine”, while Rudolph is a master at meat dishes and uses the deep-fryer to make triple-cooked chips.
Upstairs, there’s a gaming lounge, as well as bedrooms and work areas. But perhaps the most important room in the house is a “technology-free” library that sports beanbags, books, a turntable – “only vinyl can be played”, Culleton says – and, crucially, a “Mad Men-esque” liquor cabinet. The idea is to have a place “to retire to in the evenings,” he adds. “And there’s a lot of retiring.”
The housemates keep things on an even keel with “pretty open dialogue,” Culleton says, while the large amounts of space also help. The finances aren’t hassle-free: plenty of banks wouldn’t come to the party, Jordan says. But with house prices rising all the time, and lending rules tightening, it’s an arrangement that may become increasingly popular.
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