9 Things to Know About Your Front Door

What are the key things to know about your Front Door so you can create a welcoming and comfortable home?

Consider how you’ll design your front door, and the experience of entering your home, so that it enhances the overall aesthetic of your home, and sets up the type of feeling you want your home to have from the start.

Image Source @Canva

A Welcoming Entry

Many homeowners tell me they want a welcoming home. One that makes people feel comfortable, and embraces all those who visit it with warmth. And your front door plays a big part in helping start that experience for visitors. And you, if you don’t have a garage with an internal entry.

What does the front door tell people about what awaits inside? Front doors come in so many different sizes, detailing and materials, that you can choose one to celebrate the aesthetic style of your home, and give your front elevation a lot of character.

It’s not only the door itself that you can play with. What can you choose for door knockers, and door handles? What happens around the door? On the landing, on the ceiling, on the walls? And in the pathway up to it as well? 

Consider how you can invest in something that really celebrates the entry to your home, and brings joy on a daily basis as you welcome people through it.

Far too often, we plonk a door in a wall, and create a small covered entry that simply feels like a pit stop before we let someone inside (or choose not to!)

An architect I worked for very early in my career always reminded me to consider how things felt to touch – not just to look at – and the importance of creating surfaces and choosing materials that we wanted to touch at our ‘tactile height level’. That is – where we walk past, put our hands on, as we move through a space. This can dramatically change the experience of entering your home.

Making the entry process one that flows, and that feels easy and comfortable, with moments of joy and delight, can be such a beautiful way to enhance the experience of arriving at your home. 

And when you think about how that relates to what’s going on inside your home, and create some continuity with colours, materials, detailing or design ideas, this can be a very strong way to improve that sense of flow in and beyond your home.

You don’t need a lot of space. It doesn’t have to be big to be welcoming. Use the design of your front door and entry to start telling your story, and highlight elements that create interest and anticipation of what’s inside.

Image Source @Canva

Visibility from the street

When positioning your front entry to your home, consider how visible it will be from the street, so visitors know clearly where to go, to announce their arrival at your home.

This helps with the overall security of your home, because the design tells people how they need to interact with your home’s entry. 

You can do this by making the door very visible from the street, through its location, its colour, and the landscaping and building treatment leading up to it. 

In a narrow lot, where a side entry may be needed (and the door not directly visible from the street), consider using other elements to highlight where the front door is. A well-landscaped and delineated front entry path. A projecting roof or awning to bring people to that side entry. Changes in colour or materials. Things that draw the eye.

Highlighting where your front entry is, and showing people clearly where to go, also helps privatise anything else that is at the front of your home.

Consider what will happen if they decide to drive in and park on your driveway. How will they get from their car to the front door and maintain the privacy of your home? Give them somewhere clearly demarcated to walk that enables a clear pathway of entry to your front door.

If they’re walking past other parts of your home as they arrive at the front door, consider how you’ll maintain the privacy of those spaces. There are so many designs that have a trio of narrow windows on the front of the house for privacy or interest. Those thin narrow windows (horizontal or vertical) mean internal window furnishings are strange, and views and light for that room are compromised. 

Look at the landscaping design, or the distance you keep people away from that space with where pathways are positioned, or the angle at which they can look into the room.

Design tells us how to move, where to walk, what to look at, how to behave, in our everyday lives all the time. We’re not always aware that this is happening, but that doesn’t stop it working! We can do this to help improve our home’s security, privacy and overall feeling as well. And we can do this from the moment someone sees our home from the street. 

Image Source @Canva


Our front door security doesn’t only come from the physical locks we put on it. You can create security through design.⁠

⁠Consider the idea of ‘threshold’. The entry door itself is a big threshold moment between the public world of your street and front garden … into the private world of your home’s interior. However, what other thresholds can you create (through design, materials, built elements) between the front door and the street?

⁠Changing levels can be a great threshold. Think of large public buildings. You walk up a large set of stairs to ‘arrive’ – and in doing so, you leave the public domain. Entering the building feels more special and ceremonial. This idea can work on a smaller scale when navigating levels at your home’s entry.⁠

⁠Landscaping can also create thresholds, and material and colour choices do as well.

⁠The visibility of your entry from the street will also improve security, as it makes it difficult for someone to be loitering unnoticed around your front door. When you have a side entry, ensure you still create good physical and visual separation between your ‘front’ yard, and ‘back’ yard at that entry point – so it’s difficult for someone to continue down the side of the home unnoticed.⁠

⁠Also review ‘surveillance’. This is where you’re able to maintain visibility on the door and entry itself – or the impression of visibility. Some do this by adding sidelights to their door (which can create privacy problems for your home’s interior). Some do this by adding a peep hole, or by including intercom cameras. However, perhaps your surveillance comes from an adjacent room, or a living space at the front of the home that has ‘eyes’ on the street, and anyone who enters your site.⁠

⁠You can of course, create mechanical means of security. Good locks. Security screen doors. Alarms. Cameras. However, this can often be at odds with creating a welcoming and comforting feeling that’s so important for our homes. Think about the design and what it can do to create security. Pay attention to the spaces you’re moving about to see how others have used design to do this too.

Image Source @Canva

Providing Ventilation (including a screen door)

With many narrow lots and smaller homes, the front door can be one of the few openings at the front of the home.⁠

⁠In addition, it can also be the end of a hallway, which can act as a fantastic breezeway, if the door can be left open (and secure) to provide natural ventilation. In smaller homes, or on narrow lots, this can make a huge difference to how the home feels and performs overall.⁠

⁠Consider whether you’ll want to leave your door open more regularly when you’re home. You can then include some type of security screen door that stays locked, but means you can leave your front door open and get those breezes into the home.⁠

⁠Security screens can be a way to add another layer of character and aesthetic to your home. From simple, geometric patterns, to custom-made laser-cut screening, you can access some fantastic options as a lovely feature on your home.

⁠The home in this image is the entry of one of the homes my husband and I renovated. The screen door was custom made to suit the shape of the existing entry, and we used to for screening in that space as well. I chose a laser-cut pattern in powder-coated aluminium that highlighted the history of the site as an orchard. This pattern also still gave privacy and security to the door. Someone couldn’t slide their hand through to unlock the door from the outside as a result!⁠

⁠(Many people want to leave their key in the lock inside for convenience, but having a screen door that’s easy for someone to slot their hand through and unlock from the outside will create problems!)⁠

⁠Remember too, that your screen / security door will most likely open outwards. So, when designing your entry landing, accommodate sufficient space for the door swing. That way you won’t knock someone off your entry when you need to open the security door to let them inside!⁠

⁠And if you’d prefer to see your front door from the outside, you can always have it open outwards, and locate your screen door on the inside. It’ll just mean selecting a certain type of door jamb and hinge to enable this.⁠

⁠Image Source @Canva

The moment you arrive HOME

There is a moment I describe to homeowners about their home, and what to aim for in their design. It’s the moment when you feel “I’m home”. 

The moment when you walk into your home, put down your things, and your shoulders drop. The moment when you connect with the things you love about your home and site (views, design of space, quality of light, colours, materials). It’s the moment of the exhale when you connect with the feelings of relaxation. It’s the moment when you actually arrive HOME.

This moment may happen at your front door, as soon as you open the door to reveal your home’s interior. It may be a moment you’re willing to share with any visitor that comes to your home, and steps inside.

Or, it may be a more private moment, and something you want to experience and save for only those closest to you who are welcomed into, or live in your home. 

Think about what experience you want to create, because opening your door ‘reveals’ your home to anyone on your doorstep instantaneously. Design the experience.

Do you want to privatise your home’s interior, and only allow those who are welcomed inside to see it? If so, look to create a small and privatised entry zone on the inside of your front door. 

Be careful of creating dog-legging hallways that are tight and dark though. They’ll kill the feeling of spaciousness in your home. Ensure there’s sufficient natural light in this space so you don’t suffer a contrast adjustment every time you open the front door.

If you are happy to reveal more of your home, then you can align the front door with your main hallway as a circulation axis into and through your home. This can be great for keeping things ordered. 

Create sufficient space at the front door that your visitors can step inside, and you can move around them to close the door, and then in front of them to lead them into your home.

If you’re using a void at your entry, lead the eye to somewhere meaningful (a focal light fitting, up a set of stairs, to a high level window). Be careful you don’t create a vertical tunnel at the entry which feels noisy and cavernous to stand in. 

Image Source @Canva

Light (Day and night)

Natural light at your entry will make it feel more welcoming, and help with a sense of spaciousness. And if you’re dealing with a narrow site and / or home, then natural light at your front door may be necessary to avoid a dark entry hallway.

Entry doors come in all sorts of designs and configurations now, with glass included in lots of different arrangements – either in the door, or as sidelights.

However, many compromise the privacy and security of their home’s entry by the door that they choose.

A few things to think about if considering glazing in your front door (or in a window or sidelight nearby):>> will privacy be an issue?

>> does the glass need to be transparent (could you choose an obscure glass, or add a an adhesive film for part or all of the glass)?

>> do you need to have the glass at eye level (or could it be above or higher in the door?)

>> can you provide thresholds or gateways before your front door (so not everyone gets up to the door itself unless ‘let in’)

Also consider your night time lighting. Choose lighting at your front door for function and appearance, so you can create a secure and welcoming entry at any time of the day. 

There are loads of options for night lighting:

>> downlighting in soffit of roof over entry

>> pendant lighting (careful how the wind impacts it)

>> wall lighting (it doesn’t have to be symmetrical)

>> in low landscape walls

>> in the entry landing itself

Invest in great quality exterior lighting at your front door, to really enhance the look of your home overall. The type of light fixtures you choose will also start to tell the story of your home’s aesthetic, so consider how they integrate with what you’re choosing internally in your home (shape, fixture colour, type of light, etc).

And ensure functionally, it’s really safe and secure to approach your front door of an evening.

If you have some transparency at your front door (due to sidelights or glass panels in the door itself), consider how your interior lights will also light the entry space. 

If using sensor lighting, ensure you have a set up that doesn’t get triggered when the wind blows through trees, etc. You’ll drive yourself and your neighbours bonkers.

Image Source @Canva

Your Front Landing

In years gone by, many homes would have a front porch or deck with a collection of chairs and a place to sit and watch the world go by. Chatting to neighbours walking past, and interacting with the street generally, was common-place.

Now, front doors and front landings can be tight spaces which are simply about ‘getting in’ to the home. With little cover and a tiny space to stand whilst you knock at the door. All the space is dedicated to inside the home instead.

Creating a well-designed front landing can do lots of things for your home – even in the most compact of designs. Here are some things to think about …

>> Orientation

If your home is south or west to rear, you may want to create a seating area at your home’s entry so you have a spot to sit in the sun that’s different from your rear exterior spaces. This can be great in Winter time, and it can help with the overall feeling you have in your home.

>> Weather and shade 

It’s important to provide overhead protection at your front door – not only for visitors to have somewhere dry or shaded to stand whilst they wait for you to open the door, but also for the long-term durability of your door itself. 

>> Deliveries

With all the online shopping happening these days, chances are you’re receiving a fair few deliveries at home. Design a front door and entry that makes it easy for packages to be left in a hidden and fairly secure place when you’re not home.

>> Light and Shade

There’s something known as ‘articulation’ when designing the exterior of homes. Put simply, this is how walls, roofs, and other surfaces, step in and out to create shadow on a facade, and general interest in the appearance of the home. Think modern homes that can appear quite ‘flat’ to the street, vs old Queenslanders with deep verandahs and shadows. Specific articulation can help emphasise the aesthetic you’re chasing, create a more welcoming entry, and may also be required by your local town planning rules.

You can be generous in your design of your front landing, without chewing up a lot of physical space. Design your front landing AS you design your home – don’t leave it as an afterthought you bolt on at the end.

Home design by Amelia Lee | Photo by Jacob Hutson

Double door, pivot or hinge. Timber or something else?

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to the type of door opening you can have for your front door. 

A hinge, 820mm door (opening size) is the fairly standard approach. But what if you want something different?

Some homeowners choose a pivot door as an option. They can be a lovely looking front door, with a really luxurious feel. They’re challenging as a front door, though, because it’s difficult to get them well sealed. 

Because the pivot hinge is on the top and the bottom of the door, you can’t run a continuous seal around the perimeter edge of the door. So if your door is not well-covered, or you’re hosing outside, you can sometimes find that leaves and water will track under the door where it’s not sealed. 

Double doors are another choice many make for a grand entry. And they can be great if your entry space is wide enough to house them, as you can have them both open when moving furniture in and out of the house. (Otherwise, people are often having to move larger furniture in around the back of the house).

However, I’ve seen many choose a double-door setup which is actually quite tight when only one door is open. And you usually open one door when welcoming someone into the home. So, if you’re planning a double-door entry, pick one that’s wide enough when only a single door is open.

Generally consider upgrading your front door to a 920mm door opening. You can make it taller too. Often the front door is a different material and frame to the other openings you’ll have on your front facade, and doesn’t necessarily need to align with the height of them as a result. 

If choosing a timber or timber veneer, choose a timber from a sustainable resource. Be ready to regularly maintain it as well. Do your research when selecting a finish for it, so you know what expectations there are to refinish in the future.

Image Source @Canva


When I lived with a friend in Surry Hills, Sydney, during my uni degree, we were in a 2 storey terrace house (in a row of terrace houses).

Every so often, she would change the door colour by giving it a new coat of paint (or two). Sometimes I wasn’t aware this was happening, and would walk straight past our place when coming home at the end of the day LOL!

Door colour has been a place of great experimentation over the past few years. With many homes using monochromatic colour schemes, the door colour is seen as a way to add personality and vibrancy. Plus, it’s a smaller area to paint should you get tired of the colour down the track.

It’s fantastic to see … yellows, pinks, greens, blues. All the colours of the rainbow – and I think it really adds some joy to the front of a home.

A few things to mention about this:

Think about how much of the door you’ll paint in colour. Do you want to bring that colour inside too? Or will you need to figure out how to terminate the colour on a door edge (and potentially paint your architraves and skirtings in a different colour so they don’t need to continue inside too).Check the manufacturer’s warranty of your door. If you’re using a new door, some brands won’t warrant a door that is painted a ‘dark colour’. Check how they define ‘dark’, and ensure you won’t have issues with the door’s performance long term. Test the colour before you commit. Light (both night and daytime) can do strange things to colours, especially strong ones. Paint your tester the same way it’s recommended to paint the door (generally a base primer and 2 coats).Also test whether you want matt, satin or gloss finish to your paint. Painting a front door in gloss and getting a great result takes skill, and may not be a DIY job for you.

It’s great to have fun with colour in your home. Pick a door colour you love, and bring it into your interiors with other choices you make. If you’re worried you’ll get sick of it, highlight it through soft furnishings inside that can be easily replaced. 

You’ll create a great feeling of continuity to your home, which improves that sense of ‘flow’ we all love!!


Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Main bedroom and its associated spaces. You can listen here >>> FRONT ENTRIES + FRONT GARDENS


Images are sourced from Canva and my own personal projects. Photography by Canva and Jacob Hutson.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Front Door appeared first on Undercover Architect.

9 Things to Know About Your Main Bedroom Design

What are the key things to know about your Main Bedroom design so you can create a great one in your future home?

When it comes to home design, one area of huge importance to homeowners is their Main Bedroom.

And it’s not surprising … because it can be a long-held dream to have a relaxing haven that feels like a sanctuary for the adults in any family home.

So, here are some key tips to help you get it right in the design, planning and arrangement of your Main Bedroom.

Image Source: Canva

Locating the Main Bedroom in your overall floor plan design

There can be different views about where to locate the Main bedroom in the overall floor plan of your home. If you’re building new, you’ll have some flexibility with this, however if you’re renovating, you may need to work with the existing layout of your home.

I see many floor plans where the Main bedroom is at the front entry, and access into the Main bedroom is easily visible from the entry hallway – in fact, sometimes it’s the first thing guests will see when they arrive. 

This can be great if you’re wanting to supervise teenagers coming and going (I’ve had homeowners specifically request this in their home design!), however if you’re wanting to maintain privacy to your Main bedroom, consider how the bedroom’s entry door can be pulled off the hallway, or the room located elsewhere in your floor plan.

Locating the Main bedroom on the upper floor of a 2 storey home can mean you struggle with whether to locate it with a view over your rear garden, or to put it at the front of the home, with a view over the street. 

There’s a couple of ways to decide. 

One is the orientation … as having a south or east facing Main bedroom is lovely for light quality, and avoiding having a hot bedroom to go to sleep in. 

Privacy can be another factor, as you may find it difficult to achieve privacy at the rear given the design of your neighbour’s homes. Having the Main at the street-side of your upper floor can be great for natural surveillance of your street and front garden, which can assist with security for your home overall. 

Lastly, homeowners with young families can often position their kids’ bedrooms near their Main bedroom to make those night trips for feeding (or for toddlers to find their bedroom) safer and easier. 

However, your kids are BIG for a lot more time than they’re little. Consider whether locating the kids a bit further away will be better for your home’s future use, and then create safety for the short term with sensor night lighting and temporary safety gates as needed.

Image Source: Canva

The Overall Size of your Main Bedroom (and what goes in it)

In an effort to create a relaxing haven in their home, homeowners can go overboard in the sizing of the Main Bedroom, and end up with a cavernous space that chews up a lot of floor plan area. Especially once combined with an ensuite and walk-in-robe.

I’ve seen this happen in the most compact of floor plans. The Main Suite has been bigger than the living / dining / kitchen area, and often due to the arrangement and design of the associated walk-in-robe and ensuite spaces.

So, when you start planning the overall size of your Main Bedroom, consider carefully what will go in it. 

Will you have a queen bed, or a king? Bed side tables on both sides or some built in storage behind the bed instead? A seating area, or simply a chair in the corner? Perhaps you can do an ottoman at the end of the bed instead of a free-standing chair. A window seat can also be a lovely built-in alternative as well.

It can be nice to have somewhere to sit other than you bed when in your Main Bedroom, but if it’ll just be a dumping ground for your clothes at the end of each day, it may not induce that feeling of relaxation you’re chasing!!

Main Bedrooms do not need to be huge, and it wasn’t that long ago that built-in robes in Mains were the norm. A built-in robe along one wall can be far more functional storage than a pokey, poorly designed, walk-in-robe. 

The same goes for your ensuite. It’s lovely to have a space that’s just for the adults in the home, but remember they’re cost-intensive areas in a building budget. You can create luxury and relaxation without it needing to be a big space.

I see many homeowners get really enthusiastic about creating a retreat-style Main Bedroom, inspired by a holiday they had, or something they’ve seen in a magazine or online. 

However, the idea and romance of it, can be quite different to the reality in a family home. If you have little ones, you may not actually be spending all that much time in your Main Bedroom (and you may be sharing it with others besides your partner LOL!) 

Image Source: Canva

Arrangement of the Main Bedroom and associated spaces (walk-in-robe and ensuite)

When designing your Main Bedroom, picture yourself lying in the bed in that room. Roll your head from side to side. What will you see?

Ideally, you won’t see straight into your walk-in-robe and / or ensuite.

These service spaces associated with your Main Bedroom can make the room feel much more cluttered and less relaxing, when they’re able to be viewed from your pillow. 

It also means that when one of you gets up at night to go to the loo, and switches the light on, it will cast light over the person trying to stay asleep in bed.

Consider how you can conceal these service spaces more effectively in your overall Main Bedroom design. 

This is especially important if you and your partner have different schedules that involve you getting up at different times, or coming to bed at different times.

I’ve worked with homeowners where one was a keen cyclist or runner, and so was getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise before work. So, the Main Bedroom layout was designed so that the walk-in-robe and ensuite were entered in a more concealed part of the room (and in some layouts, even accessed off the hallway into the Main Bedroom). 

This meant that lights could go on without waking the other partner, and the keen cyclist / runner could leave the room without coming back into the bedroom … and even come back and have a shower afterwards, without having to enter the bedroom again.

Your lighting design can also assist with minimising the impact of these service spaces on your Main Bedroom, by including some extra, smaller lights that give sufficient lighting at night for a quick bathroom visit.

Keep the views from your pillow ones that inspire relaxation and rest. Think about your daily routines in your home (because they’ll start and end in your Main Bedroom), and how they differ to the partner you share that room with. 

It’ll help with creating a great feeling in your Main Bedroom, and a better night’s sleep as well!

Image Source: Canva

Designing the Main Bedroom to suit you and your needs (parents’ retreat)

In the 25+ years I’ve been working in this industry, I’ve designed LOADS of Main Bedrooms (almost 1,000 by last count). And it’s always really interesting to see how differently people view the use, layout, needs and design of this particular space.

Some see it as a full parents’ retreat. An escape place that will be purely theirs as adults, and one they can ensure is always ‘nice’ and ‘tidy’! It’ll include a space to sit – and even sometimes a full lounge area. These can sometimes be very large, and even take up a whole region of the floor plan design.

For others, it’s purely a place to put their head down at night. It needs to fit a King-size bed because there’s often an extra body or two who comes in at night (!) The windows don’t need to be huge, and they need good blockout blinds to ensure full darkness in the room.

Some homes even design in two Main Bedrooms … because I’ve learned in all the years I’ve been doing this that not all couples share a bed every night, and one doesn’t want to be relegated to a minor bedroom just because they sleep separately.

One thing I’ve really loved seeing is where homeowners weigh up their Main Bedroom and its functionality with other rooms in the home. They know they want a place to escape, but the floor plan might not accommodate a full-sized second living space. 

And so they’ve enlarged their Main Bedroom a little to create a lovely adults-only sitting area, that then acts as their second living space. It saves $$$ overall, and it also saves in floor plan area. And it gives them functionally what their family needs to get that ‘space apart’ when required.

Others have created a study space just off the Main, for the one who works-from-home, or even works late at night. It gives them privacy and separation away from the other activities in the home, and is designed so as to not wake the sleeping partner. 

So, if you’re designing your Main Bedroom – don’t think there’s just one way to do it. Create a design that suits you and the way you live. It’s always possible to do that, and it still work for other families who might buy your home in the future.

Image Source: Canva

Getting your dimensions and layout right in your Main Bedroom

How to know you’re getting your Main Bedroom layout right? Know your dimensions and test them out at 1:1.

Far too many floor plan designs don’t show furniture laid out in them. It’s the BEST way to test how your design will work in real life, and this especially goes for your Main Bedroom.

Work out at design stage where you’ll locate your bed. Which wall will it go against? Is the wall long enough to fit your bed (including the bedding, which can make the bed a bit wider and longer than a mattress size)? What about the bedside tables? Do you have sufficient room to walk down beside the bed comfortably? And how about bending over to make the bed?

I see lots of floor plans where the wall that the bed sits on is too short for the layout to work well. 

This can be especially true where the design locates a walk-in-robe behind the bedhead. The wall length means that bedside tables won’t fit well, and the bed will most likely be pushed quite close to the side wall.

Consider your window locations too – do they interrupt or interfere with furniture locations?

When you’ve measured all the things you want to have in your Main Bedroom, get out a tape measure and test the size in your design at 1:1. You can do this in your current bedroom space. I’ve also seen homeowners use butchers paper to cut out a plan of their furniture at 1:1 and then lay it out somewhere larger (in their back garden, in their living space etc). 

It may seem labour-intensive and weird to do this. However, it’s a brilliant way to get certainty before you commit to your design. 

And it’ll avoid dramas down the track. Your home is a lot cheaper to change when it’s lines on a page, than when it’s under construction, or a completed building. 

Give yourself the best chance to avoid regret and frustration at making the wrong decision!

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Villa Styling

Glass windows and doors in your Main Bedroom

Let’s talk glass windows and doors in your Main Bedroom – because it’s an area of mistakes and regret I regularly hear from homeowners.

If you’re reviewing your design on floor plans (and haven’t been presented or figured out elevations yet), then be sure you understand two things:

The position of windows in the wall (how far off the floor they are, what the height is to the top of them, and how wide they are)The operability of the windows ie how they open (and how far they open too)

This goes for any window in your home design, but I see it happen especially in bedrooms. And particularly in two storey homes where the bedroom is on the upper floor.

If you’re aiming for a window design that gives you great natural ventilation, you may be disappointed to find that the builder has to put restricted openings on the window to meet code.

If natural ventilation is a goal, try to have windows on 2 different walls in the room, so you can promote that cross-breeze.

If you’re putting windows on the same wall as your bedhead, consider doing 2 narrow windows that can line up with your bedside tables. It will give you wall space above the bed to hang artwork or family photos.

If you have an amazing view, it can be better to put your bed at right angles to it – so you look sideways out to the view. I often see people put it in front of their bed, which means they have to be sitting up in bed to enjoy it.

No views, and neighbours close by? Don’t forget windows or skylights that give you a view of the sky can be a beautiful inclusion in your Main Bedroom. You can mimic camping by lying in bed and seeing the night sky

Worried about privacy? You can always consider external screens or internal window furnishings to assist with privacy, and window tinting can be super helpful too (it helps with glare too).

Think about this all at the floor plan stage. Ensure the window design and placement doesn’t limit how you can furnish the room, or where you intend to put the bed. Review your window furnishings during this stage as well, so the window design can cater for the style you are wanting in your Main Bedroom.

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Jacob Hutson

Creating spaciousness in your Main Bedroom: Where you lay your bed

Want to create spaciousness in your Main Bedroom? Then look at how and where you enter the room, and the bed placement.

The most ideal location to enter the Main Bedroom is at the foot of the bed, where your path of circulation from the doorway, into the room, and around the bed, isn’t interrupted by furniture.

In the house we live in, the Main Bedroom is entered on the same wall as where the bed head is. It means that me – who sleeps on the opposite side of the bed – has to walk in the room, circumnavigate the bed, in order to get in.

(Or climb right on over – but that doesn’t always go down well LOL!) 

It’s a pain – and it’s not a great way to enter any bedroom. I’ll be changing it when we eventually renovate!! 

The same can be said for walking in on the side of the bed, or at the head of the bed. It’ll truncate the room, and make it feel smaller than it is.

In a Main Bedroom, the bed itself is usually the ‘hero’. It’s the money shot in all the images you see. It’s the item in the room that most highly triggers a sense of relaxation and calm, and it’s the thing you invest in, plus add good-looking bed linen to as well. 

So, you want to enter the room in a way that shows off the bed first. Entering the room at the foot of the bed will do this, plus prevent you having to weave around any furniture – which dramatically helps the sense of spaciousness in the room too.

The image shown here – this photograph is taken from the room’s entry, and circulation is clear to move through the room to the walk-in-robe and ensuite beyond.

When positioning the bed head, consider what’s on the other side of the wall. Having your bed head up against the ensuite wall, where a toilet flushing or basin tap running in the middle of the night, can be challenging. Consider sound insulation in the wall if this is unavoidable.

There’s also lots of info about designing for Feng Shui and EMF minimisation when it comes to bedhead location. So do some research on those if they interest you.

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Jacob Hutson

Making a grand entrance into your Main Bedroom: Your doors

There’s something I want to talk about.

It’s the double-door entry into the Main Bedroom.

Sometimes this can be two, equally sized, double doors.

Other times it can be one bigger door, with a smaller door – that still both open into the room.

I see it get used in designs – especially by volume / project home builders – as an upgrade to add some sense of luxury to the design. 

It doesn’t. Don’t do it.

There’s a few reasons why.

One is because a door swing takes up room as it opens and closes into a room – and when you have two, you’ll reduce the space and functionality inside the room. You won’t be able to furnish near the door, or you’ll have your door banging against something as it opens. And chances are your light switch will end up behind one of the doors.

Another is because it is SO rare that homeowners have both doors open. And to do a double-door opening economically, a single door won’t be the same width as a standard single door. So you’ll end up with a narrower entry into your Main Bedroom. 

I often wonder if those who specify this envisage them pushing both doors open at the same time, in some grand gesture, each time they enter. I’m not sure it happens that way in real life.

If you want to upgrade the entry into your Main Bedroom to make it special, here’s a couple of alternatives.

One is to upsize the door to the next standard size door opening. So, for example, using a 920mm door leaf instead of an 820mm door leaf.

Another option is to use a pivot door hinge instead of a standard hinge on this door. It can create a sense of luxury to the door opening.

Want acoustic privacy? Use a solid core door.

Don’t fall for a design gimmick that doesn’t deliver in real life. 

Have I changed your mind?

Image Source: Design by Amelia Lee | Undercover Architect, Photo by Villa Styling

Lighting design and power point locations in your Main Bedroom

Have you thought about the lighting design and power point locations for your future Main Bedroom?

Lighting is amazing for creating a mood, as well as serving a function. And with Main Suites containing the sleeping zone, the walk-in-robe and the ensuite, there’s lots of opportunity to consider an effective lighting design for all occasions

Some pointers for you:

If you’re painting your room a dark colour, choose your light switch plates and power points appropriately so they don’t jump out as wall acneLocate light switches so you can turn lights on and off from both the room and from bedConsider lighting levels for the different functions in your Main Suite and use dimmer switches to have ultimate controlRemember light can be about function and about feature – so have fun with enhancing the aesthetic of your Main Bedroom with your lighting selectionDon’t create conflict between downlight beams and fan blade motion, or you’ll end up with a disco strobe every time you turn the lights and fan on simultaneouslyWall lighting and pendant lighting can be gorgeous in a Main Bedroom for a softer, more focussed type of night lightingConsider what you’ll have plugged in on your bedside table, and position the power point to conceal cords and plugs behind furniture.

Those are just a few, but there are loads more tips when it comes to lighting design and power point location. What have you discovered in your research?


Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Main bedroom and its associated spaces. You can listen here >>> YOUR MAIN BEDROOM


Images are sourced from Canva and my own personal projects. Photography by Canva, Jacob Hutson and Villa Styling.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Main Bedroom Design appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to Choose the Right Home Insurance | David Keane, Solve My Claim

Want to know how to choose the right home insurance? David Keane, Solve My Claim, helps us know what to check when choosing.

Choosing the right home and contents insurance policy can have a huge impact on how protected you are, and what you’ll receive if you suffer loss or damage to your home or contents. 

Learn what to look for here.

Solve my Claim provides expert support and assistance to anyone struggling with their insurance claims. 

David is an expert on all things home and content insurance, and he’s going to help us understand and decipher the differences between insurance policies, and what to check, so we know we’re covered.

This is essential listening for anyone choosing a home and contents insurance policy, or wanting to review their existing policy to ensure they’re covered properly.

David Keane, Director of Solve My Claim

David is the Director of Solve My Claim, and he has been involved in the insurance industry (primarily in the area of claims management, loss adjusting and assessing services), for more than 24 years. 

During this time, he was constantly amazed at how many people came to him with insurance problems, complaints, disputes and claims problems. In every instance, he was able to resolve those claims. He realised that there was nowhere for these people to turn, and that realisation started a process that resulted in the creation of Solve My Claim in 2014.

Solve My Claim exists to provide expert guidance, to help you navigate through claims disputes and problems that can be difficult to resolve.

Many people feel disempowered when making an insurance claim, because the company has a team of experts acting for them, and you are all on your own. Well not any longer! Solve My Claim is levelling the playing field, and ensuring that you have the best possible opportunity to solve your claim.

In this interview, David is going to help us understand:

What he recommends you specifically check in your insurance PDS to ensure you’re coveredHow to best determine the value of your home and contents for insurance purposesAnd whether unapproved structures, especially on rural and regional properties, will be covered in your insurance policy.

So, let’s hear more.



Solve My ClaimWeb >> https://solvemyclaim.com.au/Facebook >> https://www.facebook.com/solvemyclaim/The free Facebook groups they have >> SOLVE MY CLAIM FACEBOOK GROUPSInstagram >> https://www.instagram.com/solvemyclaim/Link to Contents Inventory Schedule >>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
The post How to Choose the Right Home Insurance | David Keane, Solve My Claim appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Home Loans 101 and Lending Criteria – Part 2: Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

Do you understand Home Loans 101, and the various lending criteria that decide a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?

Amy is a Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans. If you’re seeking sustainability from your home lenders and mortgage broker, you’ll love meeting Amy.

This is Part 2 of my conversation with Amy about home loans 101 and the lending criteria that will decide your mortgage.

You can listen to Part 1 here.

Good Green Home Loans is not your typical mortgage broking service.

Good Green Home Loans helps you make sustainable choices with your home loan, which is fantastic in exercising your buying power for greater environmental impact.

Amy Beattie is a mortgage broker who has built a business based on her personal commitment to improving the environment, and seeking a positive impact on the world.

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

Good Green Home Loans helps you make sustainable choices with your home loan, which is fantastic for exercising your buying power.

When we feel powerless to create change, it’s important to remember how powerful our personal spending decisions can be. We can send a great big message to the companies who seek to serve us, by demanding better from their businesses.

Amy is a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping those buying, building and renovating, find suitable, competitive loans, from ethical lenders.

Amy Beattie, of Good Green Home Loan

In this episode, I ask Amy questions such as:

• What are some of the considerations you need to make when purchasing land in a bushfire prone area, to set yourself up for better chances with your finance applications?

• If you’re renovating an existing home in a bushfire prone area, what will lenders look at to see if you’re viable for borrowing for your project?

• Many people may have bought land some time ago that has since been given a bushfire overlay. What do you suggest they do in regards to reviewing the finance options for building a new home on that land?

• How do you see banks black-marking specific postcodes or areas, and on what basis?

• When looking at construction loans for new homes or renovations, what things do people need to consider with financing?

And lastly, we also discussed a scenario I’d been told about occurring after the 2009 Black Saturday fires …

One of the challenges that occurred for homeowners in 2009 Victorian fires was that the insurance settlements they received were actually full payouts of mortgages.

And so then they were left without a mortgage, no income due to not being able to work, or the fire destroying their business as well, and then no ability to secure finance.

What options (if any) might there be for people dealing with this now, or what alternatives there are for people?

So, let’s hear more from Amy Beattie.



Good Green Home LoansWebsite >> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au/Instagram >> https://www.instagram.com/goodgreenhomeloans/
The post Home Loans 101 and Lending Criteria – Part 2: Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Water Leaks – Owner Builders Watch

I bet you did not know that according to Chubb Insurance1
water leaks are more expensive than fire and theft when it comes to claims rectification.

Out of sight – out of mind.

When building or renovating taking notice of pipes and hoses
is the last thing you as the Owner Builder are worried about.

However, internal water damage can be more costly to fix and
depending on where the leak is, difficult to find and can cause long term
damage. Most home insurance policies will not cover the leak because they
consider it to be part of the building process.

They may even consider the leak to be a defect or a
maintenance issue, that you should have been aware of, flexi hosing is a risk
and its potential failure you should have been aware.

Solution, you should consider is a shut off device
that can be installed by a plumber.  This
will limit the amount of water that if a burst pipe or flexi hose escapes into
your home, it could even save you money on your Home and Contents Policy after
finishing building.

1Chubb Get Smart about Water Leaks

The post Water Leaks – Owner Builders Watch appeared first on Australian Owner Builders.

Text Formatting – Style Guide

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The post Text Formatting – Style Guide appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to get a home mortgage after losing your home | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

How do you get a home mortgage after losing your home and without income proof?

For many who suffer the loss of a home due to bushfire, they may also lose their jobs or be unable to work.

This can make rebuilding especially challenging – especially if their insurance settlement has paid out their mortgage and getting finance proves difficult.

Learn more as Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker, explains what options might be available to those in this position.

In this video, I speak with Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans.

This is part 6 of my conversation with Amy. You can watch the other parts here:Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

In this video, I asked Amy this question:

“One of the challenges that occurred for homeowners in 2009 Victorian fires was that the insurance settlements they received were actually full payouts of mortgages.

And so then they were left without a mortgage, no income due to not being able to work, or the fire destroying their business as well, and then no ability to secure finance.

What options might there be for people dealing with this now, or what alternatives there are for people?”

So let’s dive in.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTAmelia Lee + Amy Beattie (Good Green Home Loans)

[Amelia Lee]: Now in terms of understanding the position that some people are in after the bushfires, I know from the research I’ve been doing with the 2009 Victorian fires that one of the big problems when it came to people losing their properties or suffering significant damage was that their insurance payouts ended actually just being that they had their mortgages paid out in full.

And speaking to people who were there at that time and working with people on the ground, this ended up being a big problem for people because, whilst it seemed great to get your mortgage paid out, if you were then with no house, your block of land, you might have lost your business, lost your job, and didn’t have then a reliable income, no bank was going to lend you money to be able to then turn around and build your new property. And you’ve got no cash from your insurance company to get started either.

So how have you seen, or have you seen that this situation might be handled slightly differently in the current environment?

Or what options there might be for people in terms of other avenues and other … I don’t know. I mean, it’s such a tricky thing, and I’m not sure if there is anything. But I suppose we’ve got … Whether there’s any alternatives for people in terms of exploring this with financing and how they explore it for their project?

[Amy Beattie]: Well, when you’re talking about hypothetical situations where this hasn’t happened yet, but people are trying to mitigate for it … For me, it all comes back to understanding the risks yourself, not just trying to meet the criteria of the bank, but understanding the risk criteria yourself. And, sadly, it’s the insurance industry that we’re all kind of hinged on.

But the importance of … We pay a fortune to insure our cars, and in the scheme of things, what we’re insuring there is so minor in our overall financial position. And we’re very … I don’t know the statistics on it, but I just know from my experience that many people are not insured adequately, personally, whether it’s their income, or their property, or their life. And most people don’t really understand the fine print of their insurance policies.

So that’s what it comes around to for me when we’re talking about hypothetically, and before you’ve embarked on taking out a home loan for your dream home, is the ‘what if this happened, and what would I do about it?’ And if the answer is ‘I’d be in big trouble’, you need to mitigate that risk somehow. And I can’t express that more. But it’s always a balance of how much that costs to the likelihood of it occurring.

But I guess in hindsight you would never say ‘I wish I didn’t have that insurance policy’ when you needed it. So for those people that are in situations like that, where their insurance was inadequate, whatever the insurance was, whether it was those personal insurances or the building insurance…The industry itself, I haven’t seen anything really yet in terms of the industry as a whole finance industry, as a whole, wanting to address how we’re going to help people like that.

So I probably … The only thing I can suggest is that you’ve got to sooner rather than later find someone that you can trust and who has your best interests at heart to go to and begin the journey of trying to find out how to get back on your feet. So whether that’s financial counseling services, and probably a really good place to start. But a broker would be a good place to start too. A broker with a really good heart would be key.

Because they will… They’ll almost certainly be banks that are willing to lend money to the people who are desperate to turn their circumstances around, but it will very likely be at a cost as well, a significant cost. And, you know, potentially lining somebody’s pockets when that isn’t the right answer. So, yes, you just got to be really wary of the not so good people out there too, I think. You’ve got to find someone you can trust and who you know cares. And yes the financial counselling services I think would be the best place to start.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s fantastic advice Amy. I think that that thing of actually just getting people who do care in your corner can make such a critical difference to you getting the right information that you need. Because often times, you’re being sort of forced to make decisions very quickly by those that don’t necessarily have the best intentions.

And so it is that… Having the wherewithal to say ‘no, stop, I just need to find these things out and make sure that I’m protected’ so that you don’t get yourself backed into a corner unnecessarily.

And I think it’s always really interesting to see when you do speak to a broker, there’s been times where we were doing projects, and we thought it was going to be impossible to access funds, but when we sat down and actually sort of laid out all of the puzzle pieces that we were dealing with, then there was always an avenue through. It just required understanding ‘okay, we might have to wait to satisfy X, or that might mean that we could do this as an alternative’.

And it is… You can’t actually make those decisions until you’ve got all of the information. So it’s lovely to know that there’re brokers like you who can help people really lay out that picture for themselves.

And a lot of the other guests that we’ve been bringing on as part of this Rebuild + Build Better series who can share knowledge and expertise with people to help them make informed decisions rather than getting pushed into something that they don’t want to do and then getting stuck.

[Amy Beattie]: Yes, and one thing that came to mind when you were saying that is just that … In my role, I often feel like culturally we … clients on the other side of the desk, they get excited by the ‘yes’. And it isn’t necessarily the best thing. So it’s just doing things in a really considered, well thought out way, speaking to many people, and definitely not relying on the wrong people, I guess.

And that can sometimes be people with great intentions that, you know, ‘when I went and saw my broker, he said this, or she said this and so … You can do this’ but it’s not necessarily right for you. So, I think there has to be that trust, the integrity, the experience, and not to just sort of jump at the first thing you hear ‘yes’ to.

Because that can just be fraught with danger. So the more knowledge you can acquire before you make any big decisions on something this huge it’ll be financially almost always the biggest decision you’ll ever make will be to do with your borrowings for a home and your superannuation.

So, don’t rush decisions, just when you hear something you want to hear. Surround yourself with the right people and good people and get the best advice.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s so true. I see lots of people fall for the things that they want to hear. And yes, my approach is that often times you’ve ignored… Like when I’ve seen things go poorly for people, it’s because they ignored a raft of people who told them what they needed to hear, and they went with the person who told them what they wanted to hear and then ended up in a pickle.

And so it is that thing of trying to check the credentials, establish the criteria, really know what your priorities are personally and find alignment with experts who can support you. And do demonstrate a caring kind of invested attitude in you achieving outcomes that are going to be suitable and not cripple you financially and not get you caught out.

So yes, I can imagine it’s a huge responsibility as a broker. I saw somebody post recently in a Facebook group that their home loan … they’ve been speaking to a broker who suggested that they get a personal loan to sort out their deposit to then be able to go and get their mortgage and it was like ‘holy cow, that sounds like a recipe for disaster!’

And it’s like … Actually the conversations you have with your broker at this point are critical for you not crippling yourself financially and not getting yourself into a lot of trouble debt wise. In terms of it is that thing you must feel a huge amount of responsibility in how you advise people in this regard.

[Amy Beattie]: Yes, that’s right. And it’s a fine balance too of offending people because you sort of say ‘I don’t think this is the right idea for these reasons …’ and it might be based on transaction history on their bank account. And that can feel personal. So it’s a fine art.

I think that ultimately the client gets to choose what they do next. So this isn’t the right way to put it, you win some you lose some, but I definitely have seen clients go somewhere else and come back around eventually.

So, you know, get lots of opinions. Don’t rely on one person. And if your gut instinct is that that person is the right person, challenge that too. And just check. Check with one or two more, because it’s only going to be knowledge and personal growth and all of those things will help you go down the right path in the long run.

[Amelia Lee]: Fantastic, Amy, thank you so much. It’s been so great speaking with you and you’ve shared all of your wisdom so generously. I really appreciate it.

[Amy Beattie]: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me Amelia. It was lovely to chat.


This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Amy here >>> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au
The post How to get a home mortgage after losing your home | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Expert tips to get the best mortgage valuation | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

Want to hear the mortgage valuation process explained?

What do you do if your property’s zoning has changed since you purchased? 

And did you know that banks and lenders can black-mark specific postcodes which makes it difficult to access finance?

Learn more as Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker, helps us understand.

In this video, I speak with Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans. 

This is part 5 of my conversation with Amy. You can watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here and Part 3 here and Part 4 here.

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

In this video, I asked Amy these questions:

Many people may have bought land some time ago that has since been given a bushfire overlay. What do you suggest they do in regards to reviewing the finance options for building a new home on that land?How do you see banks black-marking specific postcodes or areas, and on what basis?

So let’s dive in.


Amelia Lee + Amy Beattie (Good Green Home Loans)

[Amelia Lee]: In terms of, you know, what we were talking about earlier, some people may have bought land that now isn’t necessarily of the value that they might have paid for it, it might not have climbed in its value as much as they expected. It’s had the bushfire overlay.

[Amelia Lee]: They, you know, even I know some people who’ve owned land since pre 2009, when all of the rules were different. And they may or may not want to build a property on it and and now having to sort of navigate those different hoops and those different requirements than when they bought the land. what suggestions do you have for them in terms of thinking about finance and ascertaining if there’s going to be a gap

[Amelia Lee]: I suppose that just avoiding that surprise of, am I going to need extra cash to come up with? Obviously the research is one thing, is there? I mean, do you how do you suggest people sort of do that researchers of establishing value Do you have specific recommendations for people in terms of how they kind of established the value of the project?

[Amy Beattie]: You know, many banks will allow you to just order an upfront valuation without going down the finance side of the the assessment side of things at all, and they might pass that valuation cost on to you if you don’t proceed with something. And, but sometimes they don’t. And so you, you basically be wanting to go to your broker or direct to your bank and asking if they are able to do an upfront valuation for you. So you know exactly where you stand from a value point of view before you embark on your project, ultimately, so. So, so yeah, that’s that’s the short answer to that one.

[Amelia Lee]: And have you seen that scenario where people have you know, they’ve held land for some time they thought it was worth x. It’s not Sort of that, I suppose that balance and juggle of the project planning and how to obtain the finance that they ideally need to make that project happen.

[Amy Beattie]: I’m not really because it’s, you know, when it comes to property prices, the house haven’t really had many bumps, you know, in my lifetime. So, you know, land values have have been maintained for the most part historically. So these little kind of blips in values have just happened so infrequently. It’s it’s a really unknown space, I guess, and even more so now in the current climate. So it’s one of those things I guess, if, if, if you’re planning to do something with your land, you really need to be going and speaking to the experts sooner rather than later and getting valuations done.

[Amy Beattie]: Because who knows what’s gonna happen with property prices at the moment? So finding out the number and getting the answer that those upfront answers to your questions early is the best advice I can give. But no, I haven’t I haven’t seen that. I have I’ve, I’ve seen the odd, you know, off the plan purchase that’s come in and lower than was expected when, you know, the valuation was done three years before the project finished. But it’s a completely different kettle of fish. So, so no, not in relation to land. I haven’t specifically had to help somebody in that situation. Yeah, it’s gonna be more common.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes. And I suppose the only scenario that I’ve really seen it in is where a developer may have had a large subdivision, they’ve sold off early blocks to individual purchases, and then a builder may have come in and bought a, you know, section of 15 sites or something like that to do a punch of home and land packages, yet have been given a lower price per block of land as part of that deal, which is impacted the value of other sites in the development.

[Amelia Lee]: And, and so when it’s come to the point of financing, that’s then meant that there’s been a cash gap for the individual purchaser expecting that they would had better equity in the land to then be able to refinance and build the property on so it and I think to the bushfire overlay, it’s interesting to say I have not, I’m trying to think if I’ve seen any scenarios where it’s diminished the value of a property, but oftentimes those those sites that do have bushfire overlays, they, oftentimes in areas that have either great natural resources that improve the value of the property, or they’re in areas where they’re, the views are things like that, you know, maybe incredible or there’s other aspects that are Kind of prop up the value of the property.

[Amelia Lee]: And the bushfire overlay is just a constraint to deal with with construction, but not necessarily a constraint to deal with in terms of the valuation assessment. So, yeah, it’s quite interesting to say, but I think it is that thing of unless you’ve, you’re constantly saying across what are the constraints and zonings on your property, it can be a nasty surprise, when you go to the pointy end of kind of working through that project plan and finding out Hang on.

[Amelia Lee]: This wasn’t here five years ago, if you have been holding on to some land for some time, I’ve known people that have had land for a decade that they bought for, you know, peanuts or something like that. And yeah, it’s in some beautiful kind of remote location. It’s always been the plan to build a holiday shack or something. And yeah, and the area is full of holiday shacks. And unfortunately, Now none of them make code and so yeah, it’s a very tricky scenario.

[Amy Beattie]: So yeah, but again to that, like, the banks will have different rules around those things. Some banks will wipe out an area, just by Based on postcode, and there isn’t even a necessarily although maybe they weren’t provide you the reason why that postcodes wiped out. But it might be that it’s a mining area, and there’s it’s propped up by that industry, which is, you know, potentially not going to be a strong thing, you know, something that’s positive anymore. So, so speaking to a broker, who knows, with the breadth of banks that they’ve got access to that particular bank doesn’t bias based on postcode or doesn’t bias based on a particular overlay, and we’ll look at each transaction on its own merits means that with all of the banks that we’ve got to choose from, there’s very likely to be one that can help you.

[Amelia Lee]: So does that happen? Does it banks have got particular postcodes that they just won’t offer mortgages in our particular council kind of conditions that they won’t offer? Where do you say that sort of like you mentioned, the mining is there the sort of scenario That you see that happening in?

[Amy Beattie]: Well, you know, in places like the Docklands in Melbourne where there was, you know, the supply and demand factor and then also quality of builds and that type of thing meant that property prices there changed drastically, I guess from from the point of purchase for lots of people to not far down the track.

[Amy Beattie]: So, yeah, absolutely. And and all banks generally have also, most banks generally have a tool where you can go in and plug a postcode and it will spit out it, yes, we can talk to you. I know we can’t, and you don’t necessarily understand the factors behind it. And honestly, even with the mining factor, you’ll one bank will say no, and five banks will say yes, and it’s just about the risk appetite of the bank and, you know, whether they’re balancing their overall assets and what type of assets they want, and not Talking about the property assets that I’m talking about you as a client, they’re trying to boost their lending books, they might open, their postcode ranges, just simply because they want some strong borrowings overall and the postcode is one factor.

[Amy Beattie]: But if they’re borrowers with strong financial positions, the postcode doesn’t matter. So there’s, like you said at the start, there’s a cocktail of factors and, and it’s it’s dynamic, it’s changes daily. my inbox is just often emails from Bank saying we’ve changed this policy or change that policy or, you know, and there’s so much to keep abreast of and even sometimes, I won’t know what bank I can find that can help you until you come to me and present your circumstance and then I have to start doing the research for you. Because it just changes so often.

[Amelia Lee]: That’s fascinating. I’m thinking like this kind of back end, kind of Room have spreadsheets with all of this data in it, yes and knows against it and, you know, wish that it was transparently available to everybody to access because it would be it’s quite fascinating that it’s it’s not just about the risk profile of that particular area. But what the bank’s agenda might be in terms of its larger portfolio and its reporting to shareholders and its you know, balance sheets, and what it might even from a marketing position or a brand positioning want to be seen to be doing compared to another bank like that. That’s incredible.

[Amelia Lee]: It’s weird to think of all those permutations are going to impact you when you come with your individual house on an individual lot and say, Hey, I need some money. Yeah, and it’s like it’s got to fit into this kind of data stream of of yeses and noes in in one banks particular profile and portfolio. That’s just incredible.

[Amy Beattie]: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s and there are spreadsheets that exist like that. And you know, when you first approached me about taking part in the podcast, I, you know, the first thing I did was go to some of those spreadsheets and type in bushfire and the word doesn’t come up in the spreadsheets. So, you know, straight away that was saying to me, it’s not affect us specifically that the banks assess risk on, you need to dig further. And the further you dig, it all just comes back to that person’s individual circumstances and all of the different risk factors and hopefully, how many fall into the low risk category versus the high risk.

[Amelia Lee]: Yeah, it’s, it’s funny because you could get quite despondent about that and think, well, I’m never going to be able to know all of those puzzle pieces and then on the flip side, you can get quite made quite buoyant by it to go Okay, well, what I’ve got to do is just get what I can control in order, and what I can impact sorted in terms of my deposit, my knowledge, my Understanding I, you know, I had a friend for when I was at university who was a complete real estate junkie. And by the time we’d all finished uni, he’d already invested into one bedroom properties whilst we’re all spending our money on it.

[Amelia Lee]: But I’ll never forget him saying to me never send a valuer in blind amilia always be you know, fully informed about what you want that valuation to be and give them the homework you’ve done, to set them up to understand what you’re seeking to achieve. And so every time we’ve had a property valued, I’ve done a lot of that research and real estate background information and, you know, you go to your agent and get them to look at our pay data for you and, you know, all that kind of stuff. And it’s quite, it’s quite interesting because it’s such a significant asset and it’s such as in a renovation or a build is such a significant spend.

[Amelia Lee]: But so many don’t know those pieces of research to do or feel like they’re going to just have to pay for that extra information. But so much of this you can access through conversations with talented professionals who have your best interests.

[Amelia Lee]: Hot, you know, someone like you who’s can just then lay out to them. Okay, these are the risks. Can you say what you look like? I mean, at the end of the day, you’re a number to a bank. And this is what your number looks like. Yeah, what do we need to do to make your number look better and look less risky as a as a, as an option for the bank.

[Amy Beattie]: Exactly. And sadly, um, you know, with people directly affected by the bushfires. They’re not in a situation where their dream they’re dreaming about something they want in two or three years. It’s something they need help with now. So it’s, it’s not quite that simple on that side of things, but absolutely, that’s that’s exactly right. There’s, there’s so much in your control to drive the outcome. It’s just going to be a bit of time and effort and it doesn’t have to be cost.


This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Amy here >>> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au/
The post Expert tips to get the best mortgage valuation | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Buying Land in a Bushfire Prone Area + Getting Finance | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans

So you’re buying land in a bushfire prone area? Or renovating a home in a bushfire prone area? How do you get finance? 

Learn more in this video about what lenders will look at, and what you need to consider when applying for finance in your new build or renovation project.

In this video, I speak with Amy Beattie, Mortgage Broker and owner of Good Green Home Loans. 

This is part 4 of my conversation with Amy. You can watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Good Green Home Loans is here to help you find the right home loan at a great rate – using only environmentally responsible lenders who aren’t using their profit and power to support the fossil fuel industry.

In this video, I asked Amy these questions:

What are some of the considerations you need to make when purchasing land in a bushfire prone area, to set yourself up for better chances with your finance applications?If you’re renovating an existing home in a bushfire prone area, what will lenders look at to see if you’re viable for borrowing for your project?

So let’s dive in.


Amelia Lee + Amy Beattie (Good Green Home Loans)

[Amelia Lee]: Now, in terms of purchasing land in a bushfire prone area, what do you need to consider in terms of setting yourself up to have a better chance for with your finance? If you’re looking … This is a thing, like we’ve … The recent bushfires, there’s speculation that more land will be zoned with bushfire overlays. People might have been looking in an area previously in the last five years that might have had a bushfire overlay added to it.

It’s quite surprising some areas that are bushfire, do have a bushfire overlay. There’ll be places in suburban Sydney that might be near a thin sliver of National Park that then have a bushfire overlay on them, that becomes a big surprise during sort of people’s due diligence.

How do you suggest that they set themselves up so that financing doesn’t become a problem in that scenario?

Yes, it’s a tricky one. Because often you’re, you know, you’re looking at land and you haven’t even started to go down the path of them constructing on that land and that project itself … And if the construction project doesn’t match the land’s requirements from a building and planning perspective, then you’ve … if you’ve gone ahead and bought the land, then you can’t do what you want to have as the final project. You’re in a tricky situation so …

A very expensive caravan park, yes!

I think sometimes when I’m driving around different parts of the area that I live, I’m in Melbourne, the morning can potentially you often see fences up around blocks, and they’ve been there for a long time. And it’s like we almost got started here and then it all came to a halt.

[Amy Beattie]: So again, it’s that RESEARCH-RESEARCH-RESEARCH factor, but when it comes to buying land, it’s definitely knowing and understanding the restrictions of the Council, and all of the overlays.

And anything that you can find out, you know, even if that’s whether it’s heritage, cultural overlays, bushfire overlays, there’s many different things that can affect whether you can do what you plan to do. So it’s… take your time, don’t jump in because of the view from the land.

Yes, I guess it’s a simple… It sounds like a very simple answer, but that that’s it. You really need to be fully aware of all of the restrictions so that you can figure out whether you can work with them or not.

Yes, and I think too, it’s that thing … The bank’s going to find that out anyway, because the bank’s going to do that as part of their due diligence of valuing the land, so you might as well be ahead of the game, and know that information before you start asking for money to purchase it.

Yes, absolutely. And you know, you can’t think of them as two separate transactions. You have to really have a pretty clear idea and pretty well researched project for the build before you buy the land.

So again, that can be tricky because you’ve got a real estate agent saying, you know, ‘I’ve got three buyers looking at this, and it’s probably going to be gone tomorrow’. It’s hard, it’s impossible to say don’t get caught up in the emotion of all of that. But if you do, there’ll potentially be really significant consequences.

So take your time, there’ll be plenty of land. And there’ll be another one, trust me. I guess I probably … I say that a lot. And it does feel like sometimes I’m the person that people don’t want to hear what she has to say, because the news isn’t all just rainbows and baby animals.

Just a dream killer in your part time! It’s alright, I often feel like that too. When homeowners come to me and say ‘oh, I want to do this, and this is how much money I’ve got to spend on it’. And it’s like… Those two things are a long way from each other. And yes, you do (feel like a dream killer) …

[Amelia Lee]: But I always feel that my attitude is, and I can imagine it’s your experience too, is that even though you’re the deliverer of bad news, you know it’s news that is much better heard early, rather than another 12 or 18 months down the track when you’ve already – when you’ve invested significantly more money, effort and energy. And that it’s always possible to dream a new dream, and one that actually is true.

[Amy Beattie]: I love that.

[Amelia Lee]: And one that actually fits all of the criteria rather than just a couple. And the new dream that fits all the criteria often actually ends up being a better dream.

So for me, it’s… I see that time and time again that there’s always that horrible, demoralizing initial moment of disappointment, because there’s been so much banking on this working out. But inevitably once everything else gets into alignment, I’d say it generally always creates much better results in the long term.

The sooner you can get to that point of ripping off the band aid and finding out the bad news, the better. Better armed you are to not waste any more time.

[Amy Beattie]: Spend all your effort in the right areas or the new areas that you need to.

[Amelia Lee]: Definitely. Now in terms of looking at renovating in a bushfire prone area, obviously there’s going to be similar considerations. But with these a lot of people would have bought houses that aren’t up to code. And as part of renovating, they need to bring the entire house up to code, which may be a bigger spend than what they initially bargained for.

How do you see that relationship with the lender, the assessment of risk? And the conversation about what their spend of the project is to get the result that’s required from a code point of view, from a value point of view, all of those kinds of puzzle pieces coming together.

[Amy Beattie]: Yes, the bank still uses all … Is still assessing all of the same things. So it’s going to be about the balance between how much you spend and what you’ll have at the end, when you’ve spent that money. It’s going to be about the increase in the loan repayments and your comfortability with that. And the impact of those increased repayments on your family and your lifestyle, and is that something you want to sign up for? Or whether you have to think about walking away. There’s all the same things to consider.

It comes down to, again, speaking to the finance experts early so that they can help you work out what your potential hurdles will be. And with those hurdles, what ones you can mitigate, and want to mitigate and want to therefore pursue, or what you don’t. And when you know… Where you cut your losses.

So it’s not really too much different, to be honest. The best place to start will definitely be where you currently have your finance, because that bank is already involved in the risk, so they’ll want the property to be back to being saleable and a risk free property again. Sooner rather than later.

So they’re going … They may well … And all banks will have a level of this, where they’ll be willing to go, and able to go outside the black and white rules that they would normally be bound by, because this is already a property that they have a mortgage over and have some skin in the game. So, in that situation, you’re probably best to start with your bank because they’re more likely to have to help ultimately.

I think too … What I see is really interesting with the renovating piece, it’s almost… It’s quite different to the building new, is that there’s a bit of a chicken and egg process where you’re sort of looking at ‘okay, we’ve got this property, we’ve got this existing house, we might have X amount of equity in it. We’ve got capacity to extend our financing all things being equal to Y. That means that we’ve got this amount of money to play with in terms of renovation’.

[Amelia Lee]: Now we need to do a little bit of work in finding out ‘okay, what is the constraints on our property? And what … Invest in some consultant help to look at what does the bushfire overlay mean, what does that mean in upgrades to our house? What does that mean in terms of have what that money might bias and where that money might need to go? And then is that money then enough? And does that look like what we kind of need to get as a finished picture?’

And it can be really tricky for people because that feels like they’re actually having to spend a lot of time, and make a lot of decisions, and speak to a lot of people, and potentially pay some professional fees to get to that point of going ‘yes, okay, now we can do the thing of applying for the additional finance and hiring the architect or hiring the designer, or speaking to the builder in a more formalised sense’.

You actually have to do a fair amount of due diligence to even get to that point, particularly when you’ve got a bushfire overlay and you’re doing a renovation because different areas will see the work that you have to do to the existing house differently. And in some cases that may actually be more affordable for you to demolish the existing house and build a brand new house that meets code rather than you trying to up spec the existing house to the standard that it needs to be.

Do you see people sort of really struggling with those early stages of ‘how much work do I need to do to get to the point where I’m like… Why can’t somebody just say yes or no to me? How much work do I need to do to suss this out? When am I doing too much research and disappearing down a rabbit hole?’ You know, all of that kind of work.

[Amy Beattie]: Well, I mean, from my side of things, the conversation always starts around ‘how much can I borrow? How much will the bank lend me?’ And it’s a little bit risky sometimes to sort of just stop there and say ‘it’s this number’, only to find that the client takes that and literally runs with it, and ends up doing so much more than maybe they would if I just sort of said ‘why don’t you do your research about the cost first, and then we’ll work to that’.

So yes … I haven’t personally assisted somebody in that situation where they’ve had damage from bushfire and just needing to, or wanting to, get back to the house they had before. Or something similar or maybe something with a few nice improvements. You know, in my role it’s about talking through those … But also asking lots of questions so I can work out what type of client I’m speaking to here and whether if I tell them the number the bank is likely to say yes to they’ll just run with it and spend more than they wish they had. So it’s a balance of all those things, too.

Yes. It must be really interesting to try and assess that … Because you’re dealing with money mindsets and attitudes to money and attitudes to process and those kinds of things at the same time as…

I need a psychological exam first as well! Just to see strengths and weaknesses! So absolutely it’s multi layered, and I’m very … I become emotionally invested in the transaction with the client too. I always do. So sometimes, the more you get to know them, the more invested you are as well. But I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

[Amelia Lee]: Yes, that’s gorgeous. That’s the kind of broker I’d want on board too! You want somebody who’s gonna celebrate with you or commiserate with you!

[Amy Beattie]: Ride the highs and the low!

[Amelia Lee]: For sure.


This interview is part of our Rebuild + Build Better series.

Be sure to stay tuned as we share more information and expertise in helping you rebuild after bushfires, or build homes more resilient to climate conditions and in bushfire prone areas.

Resources mentioned in this video:

Get in touch with Amy here >>> https://www.goodgreenhomeloans.com.au/
The post Buying Land in a Bushfire Prone Area + Getting Finance | Amy Beattie, Good Green Home Loans appeared first on Undercover Architect.

How to Avoid a Building or Renovation Nightmare: 4 Real Life Stories

What happens when renovating or building goes wrong? And how do you avoid the 5 and 6 figure blowouts?
When we stuff up renovating or building, it rarely involves tens or hundreds of dollars. More often than not, it means thousands, tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars extra. Do you sometimes wish you could take a renovation course to avoid your money gurgling down the drain? (Hot tip – you can take one right here!)
For many things in our lives, we can correct our mistakes. Have another go, and do better next time.
Yet, when it comes to building or renovating our family homes, most of us only do it once or twice in our lifetimes. The expense is big, the decisions are permanent, and the choices we make become the home we have to live in – good or bad.
The fear of stuffing it up, and regretting the choices make (that are screaming at us daily in our homes) is real.
Especially when you hear the horror stories. 
Here are 4 real-life renovating and building horror stories, and tips to help you avoid these situations on your project.
#1 The homeowner and her family, whose builder went into liquidation during the renovation of their home.
This family moved into an apartment to make way for the renovation of their family home.
Things were progressing well enough, until they weren’t. The builder seemed to be falling behind. Sub-contractors were complaining that they weren’t getting paid. One threatened to come and pull out all the work he had done on the project. The builder kept stalling, kept saying things were going to be fine. The owners started paying the builder’s progress claims directly to the contractors to ensure they got paid. It was increasingly become a serious mess.
The builder went into liquidation – not only on their project, but on all projects he had underway at the time. Building literally stopped overnight. The project was already running behind. So what happened next?
After hiring lawyers to deal with the insurance claim and the aggressive receiver, they still had a half-finished home and were paying rent on a unit.
It took them some time to find another builder willing to take on the project, and the new builder quoted $50,000 to rectify the previous builder’s poor quality work. As well as several hundred thousand more dollars to finish the project.
Just like that, their budget blew out by double.
Fortunately these homeowners were in a position to fund the project to completion. However, you can imagine the additional stress this has put on them, and the frustration with delays and legalities of dealing with a liquidation and insurance claim.
And whilst the builder lost his license as his company went into liquidation, he is now operating under a “Qualified Supervisor Certificate”. This means he is unable to contract directly with consumers, but can be the nominated supervisor on a residential project for someone else’s building company.
Tips to avoid this for your project:

Once a builder is on your site, terminating a contract can be difficult and onerous. So, ensure you ask LOADS of questions before you contract your builder. Questions about the history of their licenses, whether they’ve had licenses cancelled (in any capacity), and whether any of their staff have had licenses cancelled.
Be ready to manage your project diligently, or have someone do it on your behalf. This includes checking payments, seeing that paid invoices have actually been paid. Occasionally it can be worthwhile checking on presented invoices to ensure that payments are actually being made as claimed. Any good quality builder will not resent you checking in on this.
And if your preferred builder isn’t ready to start on your timeframe, question whether the alternatives are as desirable. This builder was not the preferred builder, but one that all parties (designer or owner) had not had experience with before. They chose him because he was ready to start on their timing. The job has ended up being far more delayed than if they’d waited for their preferred builder to start.

#2 The homeowners who spent money on and time with a design team for months on a proposal to convert their garage into a granny flat …
These homeowners hired a team of designers to design and document the conversion of their garage into a granny flat. When they submitted it for a Complying Development Certificate, Council reject the application because it didn’t meet planning codes, and the garage isn’t structurally sound.
They are now reviewing the agreement to determine what recourse can be taken with the design team to reclaim their fees and council application costs. And they’re looking for another designer to assist with getting the application done properly.
This has meant wasted time, money and fees on professionals who didn’t do their job well, and now have to be legally pursued for fee compensation.
Tips to avoid this for your project:

Review your consultant agreements in great detail, whilst imagining the worst-case scenario. On review, these homeowners find that their agreement is missing some key information regarding necessary due diligence during the process that would have caught this issue much earlier.
Before considering the conversion of any part of your home, or adding on (say a second storey), get structural advice as to whether its even possible. This will save you any headaches with the design process.
And also get an understanding early of your local planning laws. A simple check with your local council will often reveal some some key information for your property. Or at the very least, it will arm you with better questions when you first get your design team over to start your project.

#3 The homeowner who decided to do an owner-builder extension to save some money.
This homeowner got quotes to renovate and extend their home, but found it was well over their budget. They decided to take on the project as an owner-builder.
However, they didn’t know how to check off that work was being completed to the required standard. They moved back into the project to save some money when the first stage was finished, and turned on the plumbing. It hadn’t been sealed properly, before the walls were lined. So, the plumbing exploded, the walls and floors got damaged.
They sought quotes for a builder to rectify the damage, and finish the project. Quotes were at least another $200,000 over what they planned to spend. Unfortunately, because the whole project took longer than they anticipated, they’re nearing the end of their approval period. Getting an extension is difficult, so they’re backed into a corner to find the funds and get the project finished.
Tips to avoid this for your project:

Seriously consider whether owner-builder is a good approach for you. Many homeowners say to me “I’m really organised, do you think I could do an Owner-Builder?” However, if you don’t know what you’re organising, it won’t necessarily help that you’re organised.
Build in a contingency for any project. Things can and do go wrong, and so having some spare funds to cover it will help you manage your risk overall.
If doing an Owner-Builder project, consider hiring a building inspector, or someone who can assist with checking the work of trades, and ensuring components of work are completed to required standards. If you have no building experience, it is very difficult to know what you’re looking for in finished work.

#4 The homeowner who hired a friend to design and manage their project.
The friend got busy, didn’t attend site as regularly as originally planned.
The builder didn’t do their job well in one area, and the project started leaking and deteriorating.
THREE YEARS LATER, they’re finally taking legal action against the builder after trying every other avenue to resolve the dispute, and get the work fixed at the builder’s cost.
They’re also hiring another builder to fix the issues. More money and a huge amount of wasted time.
Tips for you to avoid in your project:

Hiring friends and family is fraught with risk in any project. I prepared this video to explain some of the issues you can face, and that you should seek to protect yourself from. Both for the sake of your project, and your friendship!
These homeowners tried to do the kind and non-legal process for three years. We can wait far too long to speak up about our dissatisfaction, and as a result the situation gets far worse. The minute there is something needing addressing, deal with it then and there. It will prevent it from becoming a much bigger issue down the track (and everyone feeling far more resentful in the process).
Document everything. Keeping track of conversations, instructions, and errors at each step of the way. You will have difficulty remembering everything, and a paper trail will assist when any further action is required in disputes.

These are but a smidgen of the horror stories I hear from homeowners reaching out to me to ask “What do we do now?”
In Undercover Architect, I’m not one for the horror stories. It’s not my normal style to share all the scary facts about building and renovating. I’d much rather help you get inspired, motivated and confident to get it right in your project – and teach you what you need to know.It is however, hard to ignore: stuff-ups in renovating and building are rarely in the $100s or $1000s. More often than not they are in the $10,000s and $100,000s. Stuff-ups that derail projects, cause financial stress and impact how and where you get to live.So how do you avoid the 5 and 6 figure blowouts? Simple. Get informed and prepared. You being a super savvy homeowner is your biggest asset – and Undercover Architect is your secret ally.
The post How to Avoid a Building or Renovation Nightmare: 4 Real Life Stories appeared first on Undercover Architect.

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