THIS Craighall Park home used to be a church and was converted by the current owners into a spacious family abode

The Johannesburg suburb of Craighall Park, which was established more than 100 years ago, is well known for its convenient location, amenities and the quality of life it offers its residents.

Kass Bunkell of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who is marketing this home that was originally built in the 1930s as a church, says that there are a variety of homes in the area, which is experiencing a strong demand from buyers.

"While there has been a decrease in property sales, this is due to the fact that there have been fewer homes available for sale over the past year. This trend is being experienced in other areas and is not isolated to Craighall Park.

"The final selling prices in the area depends on how inflated the initial asking price was. The demand however, is strong. The area is central and offers larger stands than the norm in the Parks areas, which have always been sought-after," says Bunkell.

She says that many of the original houses have been occupied by owners for many years and are in need of substantial renovation to bring them to the standard that purchasers require today. "These can be exciting projects for young couples, families and professional renovators alike."

That must have been what Kurt and Hilary Calvert-Evers thought when they purchased this Craighall Park property and renovated it in 2003. The only difference was that the property was not a home that needed renovation — it was a church that they wanted to remodel.

This home was originally a 1939 Dutch Reformed Church that was deconsecrated in 2000, at which time it was a Gospel Church. Permission was given to demolish it in the mid-1980’s and plans were approved for a larger church. The church was not demolished, though phase one of the new Baptist Church was completed, which consisted of a square block with a high ceiling, which was situated at the back of the property. When the Calvert-Evers’ bought the property, they demolished the "ugly block", but the original structures and finishes of the church building were kept.

Kurt Calvert-Evers says: "The original church layout lent itself to enlarging the north and south wings and linking them with a mezzanine floor, and so creating the upstairs bedroom area with a pyjama lounge looking down onto the main living area. The 7m vaulted Oregon pine ceiling allowed for plenty of head room in the first floor areas."

The entrance hall leads to an open-plan, formal lounge and dining room adjacent to the kitchen, which includes a utility room and pantry.

The enclosed patio with stacking doors opens onto the private pool deck. There are two family rooms, four en-suite bedrooms, with the main bedroom including a dressing room and study.

Additional features include a wine cellar, staff accommodation plus workshop/second staff room with bathroom, and an office with a bathroom.

There is also a one-bedroom cottage that is currently rented out as upmarket accommodation. The home includes double garaging with plenty of off-street parking.

Calvert-Evers says that from the outset, the approach to the design was to create a home that could also easily be run as an exclusive B&B. This is why all the bedrooms are oversized at a minimum of 40m² and are all en-suite.

He also says that while the house is almost 800m² under roof, every area is fully utilised.

Talking about property in the area, Bunkell says as the business hub of Johannesburg has largely moved to Sandton, the demand for properties in surrounding areas has grown. "Homeowners find Sandton easily accessible and travelling at peak times not a lengthy or onerous journey. Many of the traditional highly respected schools are easily accessible, as are excellent shopping centres and the business hubs of Rosebank, Illovo and Dunkeld."

She says that the most exciting trend she is seeing in the area is that older homes are being totally or almost totally demolished and rebuilt in modern, exciting styles.

"It is apparent that owners are spending upwards of R10m on such projects and in due course will upgrade and enhance the area substantially. Sub-divisions have been popular for some time and many charming homes have been erected on these vacant lots ."

Talking prices, Bunkell says that entry level homes generally priced in the R2m range are sought-after, as are the few apartments and townhouses ideal for young singles and retirees.

"Mid-level homes with renovated kitchens and bathrooms sell quickly between R3m and R5m or more, depending on the accommodation offered."

Price R7,95m with offers submitted from R6,95m

Contact: Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Kass Bunkell 082 565 8658 Office: 011 886 8070

* This article was published in HomeFront