Ambassador's Residence

Construction value: 
$1.9 million
Scope of Works: 

This 320m2 two storey, stucco, neo-Tudor style Ambassador’s Residence in Lower Hutt required structural strengthening and major interior and exterior refurbishment. Built in 1931 with strong character features, all strengthening and refurbishment work had to be completely in keeping with the style of the building as well as meeting very specific security requirements, with special attention to detail.

The premises are dual purpose with a separate, private Ambassador’s residence on the first floor and public hosting plus guest areas on the ground floor. Both areas required separate services including heating, power, data security and phone systems.

Refurbishment included the replacement of up to 75% of the exterior framing (100x 75mm) due to rot, borer and two-tooth long horn beetle damage.

Three bedrooms were demolished to make way for a new kitchen and living room. Two of the six bathrooms were refurbished and a new guest bathroom, complete with matching black and white floor tiling and chandelier.

The existing tile roof was removed and replaced with ply and  reroofed with Viking roof shingles, made from recycled car tyres; accurately replicating the original clay tiles.

Special character requirements included repairing and restoring Rimu wall panelling throughout the house and timber parquet floors. A new copper rain water system, plus new fascia and soffits were all installed completely in character with original detailing. All existing windows were replaced with double glazed lead light windows.

A new alarm system with panic alarms was installed throughout the building including UHF radio communications.

The refurbished Safe Haven Room included the following features:

  •  reinforced floors
  •  steel clad walls
  •  42mm bullet resistant glass windows with leadlight decal
  •  Security door weighing 300kg
Special Info/Challenges

Creating a seamless blend of the old and new was an exciting opportunity for Armstrong Downes Commercial, ensuring that the integrity of the original design and finishes were maintained at all times.  Using modern materials in character with the original design resulted in a beautiful residence for the Ambassador and family to represent their country in New Zealand.


Armstrong Downes Commercial has been recognised with a Gold Award in the Restoration category and a National Category Award for Commercial Projects under $2 million, for this project at the recent New Zealand Commercial Project Awards 2015. Read more about the award.