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Home Reno Overview

This is part of our first home reno series. Please remember to read our "Reno & Home Improvement Advice" blog before you attempt such a large project on your own.

Renovation Blitzkrieg! #renohacks

This project is a personal favourite of ours, in that we lived in the property for 5 months covering Summer, Autumn and start of winter so got a great opportunity to size up the outside and inside of the property before committing to works.

Some of our ideas based on viewing the property and awaiting settlement were quite frankly ludicrous, so it was great to be in the property for a while to see how stupid some were and to make better decisions based on seasons/climate and best bang for the buck changes to the building to better suit our lifestyle and family needs.

The only down side to this is of course only moving in bare essentials so a split move and living in the property as it is renovated which is a real double edged sword, on one hand you can control the project better and make improved evolving changes  on the other hand its dust, fumes, clang and bang for months on end!! This can and does place a lot of stress on the family and even your pets so it is not for the faint hearted.

Lets now look at the steps leading up to the beginning of the project.

Step 1: Budget

Consulted with well-known local agent as to what we could financially put into the property without overcapitalising on it and features suggested that are attractive in our market. Some personal taste compromises made here but not too many as it is our home and we want to live in it not simply sell it.

Step 2: Full Owe Completed Estimate

Budget now set and when looking at that a true current owe for the property was arrived at that even included moving costs, so it was that figure as a base plus the amount for renovation added that gave us a full cost of the finished building (assuming no blow outs) which was sitting at just under $200k lower for the median house price for the specific area it is in, so we figured we should be ok with that final amount. All was then loaded into a spread sheet for tracking purposes. (Note depending what you read they say you should not spend more than 5% of the homes value renovating it, frankly that figure would get you very little and in our case it was WAY over the 5% mark).

Step 3: Rough External Finish Decisions and Costings

A list of desired finishes was drawn up for the outside that included, rendering and stone work and then a colour consultant was bought in to advise on colour scheme of both outside and inside of house. From there costing of the stone work was sort as well as rendering and paint. We mostly used online services for garnering expected costs, so we were not unnecessarily wasting peoples valuable time.

Step 4: Drawings

Drawing were commissioned based on our external and internal build changes like decking, balcony and for the creation of a dining room to what was then an open pergola. A full survey was also taken along with soil tests etc to aid this process.

Step 5: Internal Changes and New Kitchen/Bathroom

We then set about drawing up the internal changes to house that we wanted to make which included moving the old kitchen into the old dining room thus making one large area for new Hamptons inspired kitchen and dining room and the old kitchen was to be turned into a snug/study. The upstairs bathroom was also sized up for renovation along with both upstairs rooms that were to become one large bedroom with ensuite and walk through robe while the other becoming a parents retreat or media room with balcony.

Step 6: Owner Builders Permit & Council Approval

Drawings finalised were then submitted to council along with our owner builders permit that was obtained online (the permit is not easy to get!!) and once approval was granted we could begin in earnest!

Step 7: Selecting Trades & Services

During the first 6 steps we were researching various trades people and service providers including appliances, light fittings etc online and except for known to us trades people and recommendations from friends we selected all via this method. Two to three of each we liked were contacted for quotes and selection was NOT made on merely price but more on the service they provided, the quality of their quote and their ability to communicate swiftly and concisely!

Step 8: Complete Spread Sheet

Now that all the quotes were in the spreadsheet could be adjusted accordingly with some items being more than was estimated and many others less and to our delight we had a fairly healthy surplus happening which allowed us to broaden the scope of works and in some cases increase the quality of goods selected even further while still being mindful of what can and will happen by way of surprises as you start to tear walls down and remove plaster etc so best to keep money in reserve for such events occurring.

Step 9: Let’s Get Started!

Here is the list of things we wanted to achieve by renovating moving from front to back of property and who did what including ourselves, our son Harley who is a qualified builder and our other son Jordy.

  1. New pebble mix drive way including cross over to the road: Concreters
  2. Complete gutting of front garden: *Us, *Jordy and arborists where necessary
  3. Landscaping of entire front garden area including LED 316 SS lighting, irrigation and water feature: *Us and *Jordy
  4. New feature side screen fence and paint existing fencing plus gate: *Us and *Jordy
  5. Stone work front and base of front: Stonemason
  6. Render entire house: Premium Renderers
  7. Paint entire outside and inside of house: Premium Painters
  8. New guttering front: Plumber
  9. New outdoor entire house lighting all LED 316 SS 240v: Electrician
  10. PVC Double glazed German made windows and screens: Window company and *Harley
  11. Stained Oak double glazed front door withy cast iron grill: *Us and *Harley
  12. SS Powder coated front balustrade: Balustrade supplier
  13. Workshop makeover and roller door internal divider: Us and roller door provider
  14. Side bamboo screen fence with recycled decking and gate plus garden: *Us and *Harley
  15. Complete hardwood rear deck entertainment area and pavilion including LED 316 SS lighting, SS Batten screws and oil based decking sealer: *Harley, *Jordy and *us
  16. Spa and spa area renovation: *Harley, Spa company and *us
  17. Garden makeover back yard including turf, stone pathways, irrigation and water feature: *Us and *Jordy
  18. Bamboo screens, privacy fence screens and gate backyard: *Us and *Jordy
  19. New kitchen and appliances: Kitchen manufacturer, tiler, stone mason, plumber and electrician
  20. New dining room with cathedral ceilings and dado walls: *Harley, plasterers and plumber
  21. Old kitchen conversion to snug: Plasterers, *us and *Harley
  22. New laundry: *Us via kit set
  23. Formal lounge conversion including gas log fire, mantle & tiled hearth: *Harley, Stone Mason, Tiler, Plumber and Plasterers
  24. Sanded and reseal of timber floors throughout: Floor sanding company
  25. Bedroom and parents retreat with balcony conversions: *Harley, plasterers and wardrobe company
  26. Master Bedroom Ensuite: Premium bathroom company
  27. New carpets throughout: Carpet supplier
  28. New LED lighting and antique lighting throughout: Electrician
  29. New PowerPoints throughout: Electrician
  30. Premium drinking water filtration system: *Us

Step 10: Suppliers

For the most part we stayed away from the big hardware chains as their range of materials is either under par, lacking or of second grade quality and simply made to a price. The service offered is also for the most part hit and miss at best!

We mostly used “old school” or niche/specialist suppliers for everything as not only was their quality better so was their expertise and service for not that much more in a dollars and cents perspective, and besides cheap isn’t cheap if its of lower quality with service to match.

Our advice is to look past just using the big chains if quality and service matters and really it should.

Step 11: Site Management Tips

If like us, you are site manager and general shit kickers we recommend a daily tidy up of site so that each morning the trades arrive to a clean site. This will encourage all (and believe me some need encouraging) to work in a tidy and clean up after themselves fashion and if nothing else promotes a safe work place while giving you the moral authority to jump on your soap box if necessary re clean working habits!

When and if you have more than one trade on site you will often need to direct traffic, so no one is held up performing their respective tasks. This takes some thinking about and management skills as it is surprising how some can’t think for themselves, in other words if Mr Plumber is complaining that Mr Plasterer is holding him up a suggestion that he might move on to job Y instead of X can often help in this situation, make sure you have job Z at the ready in case Y can’t be started for some other reason.

Always ensure delivery areas are clear when necessary and keep an eye that trades don’t piss your neighbours off by parking inappropriately.


Author: Warren Smith & Vea Johnston (Us), Harley Smith (Son - Thicc Chippie) and Jordy Smith (Son - V.I.P. Fencing Mornington)

Next up in this series - Master Bedroom, Wardrobe and Ensuite Renovation

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