For this one, what started as a renovation project, very quickly turned into a complete knock-down and rebuild, as we realised that the work required on the old house we bought was too substantial and costly to ever be a short term proposition. It was just an horrendous mish-mash of rooms, adds on, dated and old with little potential, with little charm or character and nothing that could be salvaged without it becoming too costly. Given what was needed to be done to the house to make it not only a workable floor plan, but architecturally acceptable, in the end we wouldn’t have ended up with what we wanted. The house was in a great location, a level walk to town, near the hospital, cafes and parks. We wanted a simple modern country home, with attached garage, small easily maintained garden and with north facing aspect.
So it became clear early on, that the most cost effective and profitable thing to do to the house, and that which would achieve the best result was to knock it down and start again. Here is what it looked like before.
To that end, we called in the bulldozers and got to work on our build using a project home builder in Bowral. We also couldn’t afford the time or costs of an architect designed and custom built home, which is the reason we went down the path of the project builder. This was our first experience with a build process like this. It was a fairly painless and easy process that took a little over a year, although I admit I found the lack of control and input frustrating. I wouldn’t do it again myself, as I like to be involved more and have more control over the product. We are used to being involved daily and every step of the way, making every decision and being hands on with the work. So this was a more remote experience.
Our options were very limited in terms of creative input, our choice of selections and the prohibitive costs associated with upgrades. All this I found frustrating as a designer, but we had budget and price very much in mind as we couldn’t over-capitalise. So we ended up making some custom changes to the layout, house orientation on the block, and the design of the home, and I selected the best I could in terms of tiles, tap ware and accessories, finishes and colours without blowing the budget.
We weren’t allowed on site through the construction phase, other than for a few supervised visits where we had to sign off stages, and I found that very hard. But I have to say the builder we used, despite being a project builder, did a very good job, they were very well organised and the product in the end was excellent quality for the price.
We did get our hands dirty at the end, Tom did all the heavy lifting as the labourer, earth mover and landscaper which was hard going in the middle of summer. He laid all the edging, prepped and laid the soil and turf, planted all the plants, and finished off with mulch. I really admire his energy and staying power! I turned my hand to fence painting and we got our great handyman in to build the deck at the front and side of the house. We also had to get the concrete driveway laid ourselves, and all the fencing built and painted. I really had the much easier job on this one!
The house presented beautifully in the end, we tried to add a bit of “sparkle” and I dragged a lot of furniture and accessories from home and from my business inventory, to style and decorate the home. I didn’t want a “style for hire” look but wanted it to reflect my style and look as good as possible. So despite a few months having to do without some key pieces of furniture and artwork at home, it was all worth it in the end as I think it looked rather lovely.
We are now set to work on our next exciting project in the Old Bowral area, a lovely, character filled and very charming 1880s cottage ripe for renovation and update. Can’t wait to get back on the tools with Tom and do what we do best. Keep an eye out on social media for the progress and all the updates as we get stuck into “Banbury Cottage”.
We are looking for sponsors and collaborators who might like to be involved with this project, such as building and hardware companies, plumbing supplies, lighting, tile and flooring, paint and hardware to name a few. Please email me for more information firstname.lastname@example.org.