March 27th, 2016 in

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Featured Renovator – Becky Marshall from “Flipping The Flip”.

Today we are catching up with featured renovator Becky Marshall. Becky shares her renovation and home improvement adventures over on her blog Flipping the Flip.

I have been following Becky’s adventures for a while now, and apart from being jealous about how often she posts her blogs (something I suck at), I also admire her give it a go attitude.

Becky has tackled all kinds of projects herself such as kitchen modifications, painting projects, electrical modifications, shelving, pocket door installations and much, much more (some pic’s below). If you need some DIY inspiration I suggest checking out Becky’s blog.

I thought I would ask Becky a few questions about her renovation journey so that she can share her story with us.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your renovation project “Flipping the Flip”.

 
Long story short, my first career was theatre in Chicago for many many years as a prop master and scenic designer. Eventually I went back to graduate school and earned an M.F.A. in Interior Architecture. Recently I’ve been working in the television and film industry as a set designer which has included stints at Chicago Fire, Sirens, Jupiter Ascending, and most recently a pilot episode, The Exorcist.

Flipping the Flip came about as an upshot of my various careers making and designing things melding with the latest target of my attention, the house my husband and I bought from a flipper.  That flipper, it turns out, made many a questionable choice and his workmanship left a lot to be desired. The stories of all the work I was doing began piling up in my head so I decided to start a blog with the hope that others could learn from my adventures.
 
Finn inspecting the renovations.

 

How long have you been renovating your house, and was it always your plan to make the modifications to it?

 
We bought this house in June 2013 and the pace of working on it, the list of projects, has ramped up over time. We had always planned to remove some trim and repaint every room. Things mushroomed after we moved in and discovered all the things the house flipper had done, or didn’t do, or should have done. Some of his decorating choices and “fixes” were so bad no human should be subjected to them so it became my mission to undo, fix, and improve just about everything he had done.
 
A photo of Becky's renovated dining room

 

What inspired you to get on the tools and have a go at tackling some of your own projects around the house?

 
I’ve always been a handy person, a designer type, and a power tool lover so it was a natural progression. It began with the repainting initially, getting up close and personal with the house, seeing all that was done or not done. As I was painting I’d think, well, I best fix that while I’m here. Things rapidly eroded from a “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if…,” to becoming a “I bet I could do that if I tried…” thing. Part of it stems from the desire to be self-sufficient, to learn things and be able to take care of them myself, and part of it comes from the desire to be budget-minded with such a lengthy list.

Becky's renovated kitchen splash back with tiles and grout.

 

If you had to pick one thing in relation to your renovation that you are proud of what would that be?

 
Boy, that’s tough. As I move from project to project and I see things taking shape around the house, it’s hard to pick just one. I don’t mean to sound boastful; in a simple comparison of the house as-bought to how things are to date, the difference is definite and vast. If pressed though, my latest one, a pocket door to our master bathroom, is the biggest project I have ever undertaken and probably the one I’m most proud of lately.
 
Becky's custom install of a pocket door.

 

Have you found any of your remodelling tasks stressful, if so how do you go about problem-solving some of these tasks?

 
Oh my gosh yes. Yes! I tend to un-smartly plow head-first into projects, so I need to first slow myself down. If it’s larger like painting our kitchen cabinets or installing wallpaper or the pocket door, I take time to plan and write out all the steps, how I want to accomplish each task, and how I want the end result to be before even lifting a finger. I find that helps keep the stress tamped as I’m then able to take the project one single step at a time, one small goal at a time thereby feeling less overwhelmed. In the case of the pocket door, I ended up taking several days to plan, prep, do math, write down every single step in order, even draw it out on the computer. That was my most stressful project to date and I found I needed to really parse it down to finest detail.
 
Pantry Pallet Wood Floor Project

 

If there was one piece of advice that you could give someone about to start on their own DIY renovation journey what would that be?

 
Don’t be afraid. Ok, be a little afraid as that’s a healthy reminder to be careful and take your time but do not be afraid to try something. Be smart and know your limits but fear of trying something new is squashed by the rush of accomplishment. The worst that can happen is you make a mistake but I think mistakes are not mistakes; they are a golden opportunity to learn and try again.
 
A Photo of Becky's library renovation

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us Becky, and we look forward to following along with the rest of your DIY renovation journey as it unfolds.

Are you hands on like Becky when it comes to getting things done? If so tell us about it in the comments section below, we would love to hear about it.

Thanks Guys, take care.

Cheers,

James Mason

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

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The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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February 15th, 2016 in

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Featured Renovators – The Stone Family

Today we are catching up with featured renovator Sam Stone. Sam and her husband Matt, daughter Olivia and son Declan are about to tackle a pretty major renovation in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Five Dock.

Sam has been writing about her experience so far over on her blog A Life On Venus, and as I write this they have had their plans finalised and are nervously waiting for their Development Application (DA) to be approved.

Like a lot of people Sam has never tackled a major renovation before, so it’s been great to follow along and see some of the road blocks and obstacles through the eyes of someone with little experience in the field of renovating.

I caught up with Sam to ask a few questions about her experience so far, and this is what she had to say.
 

When did you first get the idea that you wanted to renovate, and what gave you the inspiration to do so?

 
A lot of people in our street are renovating and then when our neighbours started renovating and we began to see the massive transformation in their place we decided it was time to make some changes to our place too.

We had also been watching a lot of home makeover shows on TV and saw that it was possible to renovate your home to achieve the space that you want.

 

What kind of research did you do before you decided to take the plunge on starting the process?

 
We googled around onto Interior Designer websites and Renovation websites to try to find out what could be achieved in the space we have available. We talked to friends who have renovated to get their ideas and experiences.

 

What part of the process have you enjoyed the most so far?

 
The most enjoyable part so far has been working with the architect. He had some really great ideas and some we would never have thought of ourselves.

 

What has been the most stressful?

 
Definitely the DA process, waiting and seeing if we will get approval and if not, what do we do!

 

Given that you are yet to start construction, what if anything are you the most nervous about?

 
I think the budget is the biggest thing we are nervous about at the moment. How much will it all cost, can we afford it and will we possibly totally blow the budget once construction starts.

 

I have enjoyed following Sam’s progress so far and I look forward to hearing about what lies ahead in their exciting renovation journey.

I will be checking in with the guys again from time to time, so watch this space and make sure you stay up to date by also following along. We wish Sam and her family all the best with their renovation and hope they have an enjoyable experience.

 

Have you renovated before? If so how did you find the experience? Leave me a comment below and share your story as we would love to hear about it.

Cheers,

James Mason

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

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The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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February 12th, 2016 in

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What Does It Cost To Renovate A House?

According to industry data the average cost to renovate a house is between $2,000 to $2,500 per square meter here in Australia, BUT…. In my own experience renovating custom projects that number is closer to between $2,500 to $4,000.

How do I get to this number? Well I have taken all the financial data from every house I have renovated over the last 15 years and the average from all of my projects is closer to $3,000.

That takes into consideration that most of my renovations were custom designs by architects and usually involved putting a second story on a single story home and fully refurbishing the existing dwelling.

Now is calculating the cost per square meter the best way to estimate what your renovation project will cost you? In my opinion the answer is NO!

Every project is different and has its own unique cost factors such as:
 

  • Access to the property, is it easy or hard to get materials and trucks into?
  • Is the renovation just a square box added to the back of the house, or an architectural masterpiece?
  • Are there any specialised building materials being used?
  • Are the finishes high end or budget?
  • Will major structural modifications be made to the existing house?

 
The above are just a handful of questions that you need to ask yourself before you take the cookie cutter approach of adding a cost per square meter to your design. There are other factors that I discussed in my blog on how long does it take to renovate a house that also come into play.

You can get project home builders that pump out the same design over and over for as low as $1,500 per meter square, but if you are on this site you are most probably not looking for that option.

In my opinion the best way to get an accurate figure or even a ball park cost before starting your design is to talk to speak with two to three professionals (I.e. Architects or Builders) about what you are proposing to do and take the averages of the estimates to get a starting point.

If you proceed to the next stage of getting your concept plans drawn, this will be enough for you to get tenders on before you move onto the final design, and give you room to scale up or down depending on the estimated costs.

Have you recently been given a square meter price to renovate your home? If so tell us about your experience in the comments section below to start the conversation.

Cheers,

James Mason

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN THIS BLOG POST: How to Renovate a Bathroom: 5 Stage Process
 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

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The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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March 30th, 2015 in

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Introduction to Getting Started

This guide is designed for owner-builders and first time renovators to help educate them about the essential steps required to complete any renovation or building project.

Unsure where to start? Well, you have come to the right place. 

Building is simple, right? You have an idea of what you want to build, you get plans drawn, you get it approved by the relevant authorities, and you outsource the various tasks to a builder so they can carry out the work. Simple, right?

Sorry to have to break it to you, but…

The above is a common misunderstanding, and unless you have an overall picture of THE WHOLE BUILDING PROCESS, including all the intricate details and steps along the way, you could be in for an unpleasant building experience. Even if you are hiring a builder or architect to manage the process, you still need to familiarise yourself with what it is going to take.

Taking on any building project can be an exciting and sometimes daunting task, whether you are a first time owner-builder or a seasoned professional. It’s not easy unless you know what you are doing, or at least have an understanding of the whole building process.

The aim of this site is to offer as much information on the entire topic of owner-building and building in general from start to finish so that you can get an overall picture of what is involved through every stage of the process. Along the way, I will be testing the various owner-builder courses and offering my thoughts on helpful sites, resources, and study guides.

I will be breaking down the various stages into easy-to-follow steps so that you can take this information and adapt or tailor it to your specific needs.Whether you are studying to increase your knowledge on the topic of building, about to start on your owner-builder journey, or are already knee-deep into a project, this information will be the go-to resource to have in your tool kit.

What I will be covering here can be adapted to:
 

  • Any project large or small.
  • Renovation or new construction.
  • Residential or commercial.

 
It does not mater as the same principles apply to each, and may only need to be scaled up or down depending on your individual circumstances. The other thing to note is that various states, territories, and countries will have different regulations, guidelines, and authorities, so where possible I will link to those resources.

I will be basing the information provided on this site on Sydney NSW Australia, as that is where my expertise as a builder and consultant has been obtained.

You can learn more about my experience on the ABOUT ME page.
 

Renovation Planning

 

FIVE STAGES TO BUILDING SUCCESS!

 
Below is an overview of the various topics I will be covering in the order of how I believe they should be tackled. They will be updated and added to as my blog grows. As this is going to be a massive amount of information to take in,whether you are a beginner owner-builder or a pro, I would suggest skimming all of the topic subjects to get an appreciation of what will be involved. After, you can go back and focus on a particular topic in detail before you move onto the next.

The whole building process can be broken up into 5 main stages and they are as follows:
 

  • RESEARCH STAGE
  • PLANNING STAGE
  • PRE-COMMENCEMENT STAGE
  • CONSTRUCTION STAGE
  • PROJECT COMPLETION STAGE

 
My 5-stage guide will walk you through these various stepsbefore digging down into the intricate details you need to take in each stage to get yourself set up for a successful project.

COMPLETE GUIDE COMING SOON, WATCH THIS SPACE!

You will hear me refer to these five stages a lot throughout this site because, believe it or not, they will relate to just about everything you do, from becoming an owner-builder to engaging consultants, trades, and suppliers.

But more on that later.

TOPICS

For now let’s look at some of the topics we will be covering on this site, in order of the importance.
 

  • Becoming an owner-builder…what does it mean?
  • PLAN and get your ideas on paper. Should you draw it yourself, or engage a draftsman/architect/builder/building consultant?
  • Selection Process: What is it and do I need an interior designer?
  • Estimating: What is it and how can I save myself thousands of dollars?
  • Construction Schedule’s: What are they, and why are they so important?
  • Councils and the approvals process.
  • Could the authorities approve my project in 10 days?
  • Compliance development certificates: What are they and do they apply to me?
  • Construction certificate: What is it and what is involved in obtaining one?
  • What fees and cost to expect during the approval process before you begin building.
  • Structural engineers and their role.
  • Surveyors and their role.
  • Selecting trades and subcontractors.
  • Finances: What to expect from the bank, trades, and suppliers.
  • Insurance: What will I need and what should I expect my trades and suppliers to have?
  • Contracts: What should I expect to sign?
  • Deposits and progress payments explained.
  • Liquidated damages explained in detail.
  • Defect liability periods explained.
  • The importance of having a good project file structure and an example of how one should look.
  • Starting construction: Should I hire a builder, project manager, or owner-builder and manage the site myself?
  • Document control: Why this is critical to a successful project.
  • Site establishment and the importance of getting it right before you start.
  • Love thy neighbours, and make sure you keep them informed.
  • Trade days: What are they and how can this one process save me hours of time down the road?
  • Work orders: How to make them simple but effective.
  • Site meetings: How often should I have them and how are they conducted?
  • Critical inspections required by law: Who performs these and how often?
  • Quality control: Who is ultimately responsible?
  • Variations: What are they and how should they be administered?
  • Extensions of time: What causes them to arise and how will it affect my contract completion date?
  • Learn the basics of good housekeeping, which can go along way to keeping trades and suppliers happy, motivated, and safe.
  • Waste management and best practices.
  • Occupational health and safety requirements you will need to know and manage.
  • Defects: How to spot them and have them rectified before it is too late.
  • Dispute resolution: What to do if communication breaks down and problems arise.
  • Handover or completion of services: What should you expect?
  • Warranties: Who is responsibleby law for offering them and how long do they last?
  • Other useful topics and links, including: Online owner-builder courses road-tested, easy-to-follow steps from concept to completion, and the ultimate study guide.

 
Feel free to comment or drop me an email if you have any questions on any of the info provided, or if there are any other topics you would like me to cover in detail.

Good luck and happy building!

Regards,

James

Ok, let’s get started!


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

GET INSTANT ACCESS TODAY

Yes, I Want to Know More!