The Historic Building Restoration Specialists

Heritage buildings are more than a relic; they’re irreplaceable links to past generations. Often built with care on strong foundations, these buildings have stood the test of time and no doubt have many tales to tell could they speak; however, that doesn’t mean they don’t need a facelift from time to time!

At Insight Unlimited we specialise in restoring historic buildings, with expertise spanning many different eras and architectural styles. With a keen eye for detail, we utilise modern skills and techniques to bring heritage structures back to life. From private historic home restoration through to completing work on public and commercial buildings, we have the experience and manpower to get the job done on time and within budget.

Over the years, we have completed the restoration of significant historic buildings, such as Riccarton House, Jubilee Clock Tower and The Gaiety Hall Akaroa.

Riccarton House:

Riccarton House is a unique New Zealand heritage site, flanked by beautiful open parkland and ornate gardens, bordered by the River Avon, and set against extensive native bush forest featuring Kahikatea trees up to 600 years old. This tranquil 12 hectare reserve is located just 3.5 km from the Christchurch CBD and includes the 1843 Deans Cottage, the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains."

Riccarton House and the grounds are registered by the Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga as a Category 1 Historic Place and also has the highest historic registration within Christchurch City Plan.

This property was severely damaged by the Canterbury 2010/11 earthquakes. During historical restoration, it required careful deconstruction and reconstruction of the chimneys employing new technologies to their original architectural form and incorporating the fireplaces that were mostly salvaged intact and rebuilt into the new chimney structures. Sympathetic repairs were also carried out to lath and plaster ceilings and walls, foundations repairs, seismic strengthening program, electrical and heating services upgrade. The painting and decoration included the reproduction of heritage wall papers.

A key component driving the design brief and constructive process was to integrate the existing original fabric with the complex seismic strengthening works in a manner that is sympathetic to the structure, minimising the impact on heritage, architectural and aesthetic values and deliver a final result which bears testament to the cultural heritage value of both Riccarton House and Deans Cottage.

Insight were nominated at the initial inspection phase as the lead consultant due to their extensive experience in the restoration of historic buildings, and promptly engaged in rigorous scoping and consultation with the Riccarton Bush Trust, the Insurers and the Christchurch City Council to determine the responsibilities and entitlements of each party.

Collectively enormous effort has been expended on transforming this building to its now idyllic state, we feel the building represents an extremely successful outcome for the Riccarton Bush Trust, Canterbury, and New Zealand as a whole. Insight Unlimited were honoured to have been the Project Managers for this historic home restoration.

The Riccarton House project was a joint winner of the Heritage and Tourism award in the Canterbury Heritage Awards for 2016.

Riccarton House Site Case

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Jubilee Clock Tower

The Jubilee Clock Tower has high historical and social significance for its connection with provincial government in Canterbury and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The clock and ironwork superstructure were originally commissioned for the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings in 1859. On arrival from England, the superstructure was found to be too heavy for its intended site. The ironwork was stored at the Provincial Government Buildings and then in the Christchurch City Council yards for nearly forty years.

In 1897 the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign was celebrated in the city, and the superstructure and clock were grafted to a new stone base to create a memorial clock tower at the intersection of High, Lichfield and Manchester Streets. The increasing volume of traffic at this intersection resulted in a decision to relocate the tower to its present site in Victoria Street in 1930-1931. The clock tower has been extensively restored on at least three occasions: 1977-1978, 2003-2004 and following the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010-2011. The clock tower sustained significant damage in the earthquakes and its bent finial became a popular post-earthquake image. The damaged clock tower was visited by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012 in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. The clock tower underwent historical restoration and has been structurally strengthened and repaired under the control of lead consultants and Project Managers Insight Unlimited.

The Jubilee Clock Tower is a finalist in the Canterbury Heritage Awards for 2016

Insight Unlimited is a Building Project Management Company and a Building Restoration Contractor

The Gaiety Hall Akaroa

The Gaiety Hall has high architectural and aesthetic significance as a well-preserved colonial classical example of mid nineteenth century public and commercial architecture in New Zealand designed by well-known Christchurch architect Alfred Simpson. The Hall has technological and craftsmanship significance as a large timber construction of the mid-nineteenth century, and particularly for the quality of the timber and plasterwork of its classical façade.

The Gaiety Hall has high contextual significance as a landmark building in Akaroa, and as an important element of the key heritage precinct of Rue Jolie. The Gaiety Hall and its setting are of archaeological significance because they have the potential to provide archaeological evidence relating to past building construction methods and materials, and human activity on the site, including that which occurred prior to 1900. The Gaiety Hall had suffered damage in the 2010 and subsequent Canterbury earthquakes, and historic building restoration was required. The grand old lady has been seismic strengthened and undergone a considerable maintenance restoration works under the control of lead consultants and Project Managers Insight Unlimited.


The Gaiety Hall is a finalist in the Canterbury Heritage Awards for 2016