The last decade has seen a plethora of group housing firms rise up, with kit-set designs reflected in the landscape of new property developments. But for one local entrepreneur, the magic of creating a unique concept for a site and seeing it through is very much alive and well.
James Mackie of Mackit is a bit of an enigma. As a designer, builder and chief executive, he is both highly creative and a finisher with a passion for grand design.
James holds a Bachelor of Design with Honours from Massey University and is qualified in carpentry, while also being a licensed building practitioner in both design and carpentry. While working as a builder after university, he saw an opportunity to close the gap between design and construction, allowing clients to deal with one company for their entire project from start to finish.
At just 25 he founded Mackit, an architectural design and construction company, and now works with a team of eight on both sides of the Rimutaka Hill. With an ethos reminiscent of the television series Grand Designs, Mackit designs and builds for a considered set of clients who want to leave a legacy on the land.
“We take clients on adventures. Building or renovating a house is often a once-in-a-lifetime project using hard-earned money. Clients want to enjoy the journey and there’s something special about having one team see your vision through,” says James.
Mackit certainly doesn’t fit the ‘group housing’ mould, which can be synonymous with ‘design and build’. Instead, the team set themselves apart by producing only bespoke designs. Each project is completely unique, says James. “I’ll never have a catalogue of plans. I’ll always start off with a conversation and a clean sheet of paper.
“Buildings have to be specifically designed for people, the surroundings they live in and what nature gives you, like sunlight and wind; you’ve got to embrace all that.”
Mackit delivers an end-to-end service for renovations as well as new builds. Some renovation projects end up being more involved than a new build, but James sees giving old buildings a new lease on life as a privilege. “Buildings that have stood for 100 or even 50 years have done so for a reason — they were well built, usually with beautiful native timbers and master craftsmanship. If they have good bones then they deserve a chance to be transformed rather than bulldozed.”
Mackit has done just that with an eight-month full transformation of a 1918 bungalow in Wadestown. It involved the demolition of poorly built add-ons, a redesign of the existing layout and the construction of a sizeable extension, but much of the original still remains.
James and wife Susie’s own home in Greytown is also undergoing a radical transformation. “It’s still got the bones of the original but it’s got a new cloak on; it looks like a brand-new house. It’s Scandinavian modern style, something I enjoy, and the house lent itself to that quite well.”
While renovations are hugely satisfying, designing new homes gives James the opportunity to create buildings that he hopes will leave a legacy on the land — the type of buildings people will still be nurturing in 100 years’ time.[info]
Mackit Architectural Design & Construction
PO Box 42, Greytown 5742
p: 0508 Mackit (0508 622548)
m: 027 277 9221