2014-12-04 19.54.18

No Longer a Fibro

As of late last week, the house is now a weatherboard house! The Fibro and Asbestos are nowhere to be seen! It has been a big few weeks.  The roof is on, all internal walls have been built, the new plumbing is done and the electrician has ran all of the new wiring to the extension. Late last week most of the Windows went in and our builder started cladding the house in Weathertex Old Colonial. By the end of this week the majority of the cladding should be on, the deck built and by next week we’ll be ready for the plasterboard!

Photos below…


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2 Months In

It has been a few weeks since the last update! Aside from trying to decide on vanities and other fittings for the bathroom and kitchens, the builder has been busy getting the framing finished off, demolishing the existing internal walls, ceiling, kitchen and bathroom and the roofer has been on site this week putting on the fascia. We were hoping the majority of the roof would be on by the end of this week but it looks like it’ll happen next week now.

The electrician has been on site this week relocating our power box. It has to be moved as the wall it is currently on is going to get removed.

By the end of next week the roof should be on, the windows and doors installed in the new extension ready for the cladding to begin. The builder says we’ll be all locked up by Christmas!

Take a look at the progress below.


Playing with colour palettes

There is a lot of pressure attached to choosing exterior colour schemes. Interior colours that become dated can be updated relatively easily but the Colorbond roofing and weatherboard needs to stand the test of time.


After much deliberation we have decided on a Surfmist Colorbond roof with Dulux Milton Moon weatherboard.



Dulux Milton Moon

The exterior front door will be red, just to add a little bit of Ireland to our home. I think it will give the home loads of inviting street appeal.


Dulux Signal Red

The interior will feature Preference Ebony Oak flooring and Duluxe Whisper White walls, light oak trims and charcoal carpet in the bedrooms.


Preference ebony Oak flooring
taubmans crisp white
Taubmans Crisp White
Light Oak
Charcoal Carpet 00324

Full Steam Ahead!

Things have really started to move over the past week! All of the ground work was completed last week and the floor bearers and joists started going in last Friday. Over the weekend we decided it would probably be best to move out of the house so the builders could get stuck into it properly. Us being there was just holding things up and it would have meant some trades would have to visit twice which probably would have cost us more money in the long run. We packed our bags and moved out on Monday afternoon.

Since Monday the floors have been laid, the frames have gone up and the new roof trusses have gone in. The house is no longer a fibro house, all fibro was removed on Tuesday morning. The builders have also started demolishing the inside of the existing house.

Over the next few days most of the work will be in the roof, getting it ready for the colorbond to go on next Thursday. The windows for the extension should also go in next week and once they are in we can start cladding it. We have gone for the Weathertex Selflok Old Colonial Smooth which we’ll probably paint a mid-dark gray. The colour we have chosen for the Colorbond roof, widows and fascia is Surfmist.





Slow Movin’

So we are at the start of week 4 and are barely out of the ground. The weather over the past week has put the builder slightly behind. By now we were hoping the brickwork should have been completed and we’d be ready for the frames when they arrive.

The bricklayer is due back on site this Thursday but only if the builder is able to waterproof the retaining wall and backfill behind it.

The frames will arrive on Thursday and if all goes well they’ll be up by the end of next week.

Then things should move a bit faster…



It’s all in the planning

They say that planning is the key to success and I am fast seeing the truth in that. When Daniel and I first committed to this renovation I didn’t know what I wanted, I just wanted it to start. Impatience can derail a great idea, it can add frustration to what is meant to be an exciting time in your life and can lead to rash decisions that you will later come to regret.

We had our first round of house plans drawn up 18 months ago, the final plans (version number 22) have been produced through months of debate… The longer we sat with our ideas the more we finessed them until we had nothing left to disagree on. The feeling of certainty is a massive weight off our shoulders.

Same goes for pain colours, finishes and fittings… I look back on my saved Pinterest pin boards and shudder at the styles I saved in “Dream kitchens and bathroom”.  If I could pass on any bit of advice to fellow reno rookies it would be to take your time in the planning stages.


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Day 1 is finally here!

We have finally began breaking ground! We have to level the backyard in order to lay the foundations an brick piers for the extension. The excavator hit some unexpected rock, so this may add another day or so to the excavation, and probably more cost. Other than that, there is not too much more to report! Some photos are below…


Tribute to an Australian 1950’s Fibro

aerialLater this month (pending weather), we finally start the long planned renovations to our 1950’s fibro and timber cottage. Built in the post-war housing boom, the land was originally owned by the government and built for the Department of Housing. This house is pretty much all original, minus a wall that divides the kitchen from the dining and living that looks like it was knocked out around 2008 judging by old real estate photos. From what we can tell from a grainy 1955 aerial photo, there was also an outhouse that was knocked down sometime before 1965.

There isn’t much in terms of “features” in the current house. It is a 2 bedder and has a total size of about 70sqm. It’s typical of a 1950’s affordable housing build, consisting of fibro exterior (and some interior) walls, pine timber floors, timber double-hung sash windows, 3/4 height dado rails and nice 9ft (2.8m) high ceilings. The lighting has been updated to modern down-lights and the kitchen had an Ikea upgrade sometime this decade. There was once a fireplace however this was boarded up in the early 2000’s and is now home to a possum. Another possum also inhabits the roof space. Sometimes they fight in the middle of the night.

Insulation mustn’t have been a “thing” in the 50’s because this house has none of it. The house is freezing cold in the winter and stinking hot in the summer. It is almost impossible to control the temperature and if it wasn’t for the $400-a-quarter-to-run split system reverse cycle air conditioning we would have moved out a long time ago. Even still, in the middle of winter we wake up to dripping wet walls and and have to regularly scrub the mould off them. During summer it is usually warmer inside the house than outside and the air-con runs all night. As soon as we turn it off the cool air escapes from the non-insulated walls and quickly climbs to a balmy 35 degrees.

Despite its age, the house is pretty solid. We have had some high winds and heavy rain over the years and the ceiling has remained dry. The stormwater drains are all blocked up and during heavy downpours we have our own waterfall. We also could have got all of this fixed over the past 4 years, but we always planned to renovate. It has just taken us longer than we thought it would to get to this point.

The government sold the house around 2004 and we are the third owners since then. The previous owner also had big plans for this house however they had a child and it all understandable become a bit too hard so we purchased it in 2010 for around $550,000. Similar houses in the area are now selling for $750,000+.

While this neat and tidy house has served many families over the years, some who probably needed it more than others, it is nearly 65 years old. Although we love living with native Australian wildlife, it is time to give it a bit of a facelift and create some more space to hopefully one day be home to our family.

September 2013


Planning a renovation isn’t easy. You think you know what you want until you see it on a plan, then all of the sudden you have all these new, great ideas. It is very easy to get carried away with it all and you think if you add a bit here, take from there, make this room bigger, make the hall a little wider, that it won’t all impact the cost. It is easy to get ahead of yourself until you realise you have to pay for it all.

We started the design “process” in April 2013. We had some ideas so we went to the draftsman and he drew up a few plans for us. The first design we chose was this one below, and slowly it evolved over a 10 month process to what we have today. As it stands right now (January 2014) we are still yet to be certified so who knows if will will have to make more changes.


April 2013

From this plan we wanted a few changes so we ended up with the below in May 2013

May 2013
May 2013

We sat on this for a few weeks and then decided we didn’t like the front of the house. We also didn’t like the position of the kitchen. Ok, we didn’t like much about this anymore. At this point we didn’t know what we wanted. We decided to change a few things around and ended up with the below…

June 2013
June 2013

This is basically a entirely new design to what we had before. We liked this design much better so we went with it. The final version of the house is based on this, although we did make a few changes. After a few small tweaks we ended up with this in July…

July 2013
July 2013

Between July and August we made small changes to the above plans and ended up sending them to a builder to quote. Things were moving in the right direction!

Not for long. The builder said due to us extended to the left of the existing house, we would need to change the roof so much that it would probably be cheaper to just knock the house down and start again.

Back to square one. We had a design we linked, it just needed to be made a bit smaller. In September we had this….

September 2013
September 2013

A few more tweaks in October and November. Nothing changed too much and we went back to the builder to get some quotes. The builder came back with a few small changes, mainly around the roof line so we had to redesign it. During this time we also decided that we’d prefer the laundry in the garage as we preferred the rooms to be bigger.

Our latest, and final design is below. After what feels like forever we’ll go to the certifier in the next few weeks and see if we can get these approved so we can start building in March/April. Fingers crossed!


January 2014
January 2014

Apartment or House?

When we started our property search back in 2010 we thought we knew what we wanted. It was an apartment in Sydney’s Inner West. At the time we were looking for something close to the city, cafes, restaurants and a suburb that was trendy. Our search brought us to Summer Hill, Dulwich Hill, Marrickville, Earlwood and surrounding suburbs.

We thought we couldn’t go wrong and were prepared to spend over half a million dollars on an apartment that would have shared common areas with an unknown amount of people, as well as common walls, with people living above and below you. The only outdoor space we would have had would have been a small balcony or at best a courtyard.

In 2010 the Inner West property market was red hot. We were fighting with thousands of other young couples wanting to live in the trendiest part of Sydney. We went to a few auctions and lost out on countless amounts of our “dream home” for prices sometimes more than $120,000 over our budget.

After a while we were trying to figure out why we actually wanted to live in these small, over populated, old, damp and over priced units. We thought we wanted it, but after some reflection we realised it actually was something that we didn’t. We wanted our own piece of land, a backyard we could spent time in, something with potential and a house we could really make our own.

It seems the rest of Gen Y are only catching on to this dream now. It was reported this week that people our age who are looking to get their foot on the property ladder are finally realising what they want.

GENERATION Y’s love affair with inner city apartments could begin to sour in coming years as the lure of a house and a backyard proves too strong.

Three years on and we have definitely made the right choice. If we had bought a unit, we would be now looking to sell. We are about to renovate our house as it is a bit too small for our future dreams. At least we have that option as if we had a unit it would be time to sell and we’d most probably loose money.

Pinterest Ideas for House board


Pinterest Ideas for House board

The first thing we did when we decided it was time to renovate the house was turn to the Internet for some ideas. The Internet makes it easy to find out what’s “in”, with millions of pictures to go with it so you know exactly how it fits in with your design ideas.

Aside from Google Images and general Internet searches, we have relied heavily on Pinterest and Houzz for our inspiration. Most of you will know what Pinterest is, however Houzz is something we only came across in the last few weeks and it helped us visually the design we want.

Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.


So here we are thinking that our design and ideas are unique and one of a kind – turns out we aren’t so creative after all.


The Stats

Rear of House from the Sales Brochure

Daniel and I purchased our first home together at the end of 2010. While it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we saw the potential with the size of the  block of land and took the plunge to purchasing. The time has now come to turn this small house into our home.

There is no greater feeling of accomplishment then that of building something from scratch. By documenting this journey you too might be inspired to make your mark of the property market.

There are many people who would advise us to use a project home company, but project home companies are too generic and create too many limitations. We feel that to design your home with character and charm you need to do it yourself. We want each piece of our home to tell a story.

Our ‘dream home’ features restored recycled materials,  renewable energy sources, hand-made features made using old methods, leadlight glass works and the beauty that can only be found in something made the DIY way.

DIY inspiration for us has come from watching Kevin McCloud’s ‘The Shed’, if you have a love of true craftsman shift, I encourage you to watch it.

In this fast paced world we live in, home is sometimes the only escape we have. Our home needs to be a sanctuary of warmth, relaxation and old world charm. We are envisioning open plan alfresco living, a homely sitting room with a cosy fireplace, large bedrooms, and a gorgeous kitchen.

Here are some of the current stats of the existing house.

Suburb: Jannali, NSW

Built: 1950

Structure: Fibro, timber, cement roof

Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 1

House size: 70sqm

Landsize: 610sqm

Renovations begin sometime this year!