1970’s Home Renovation for a Family of 6 | Undercover Architect Member Review

Nichole and her husband wanted to undertake a renovation of their old home. She was not sure where to start with their 1970 old home renovation and felt taking the time to understand the home renovation process would be valuable.

She discovered Undercover Architect and immediately signed up for HOME Method, confident in knowing the money she spent would save them money by avoiding mistakes that come from renovating an old home.

Listen to Nichole’s story on how she became empowered through her learning and understanding of the build process.

Nichole is a member of HOME Method.

Hi, I’m Nichole. I live in Perth, Western Australia. My husband and I bought a 1970’s home, and we’ve got four children and it’s only a three bedroom house. So we knew straight away that we would want to try and add some more bedrooms and renovate. 

And we just didn’t know where to start. Because neither of us are in the building industry, and apart from doing a project home with a builder, where they pretty much handled everything, we’ve never really had much experience with the building industry before. 

So we were really looking for a bit of help to navigate our way and to work out what would be the best plan of attack.

What concerns did you have before you started?

Our specific concerns were not knowing where to start. Knowing that we wanted to get it right, because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money and then still not be happy with it. 

So we really wanted to be a bit more educated about the process of how you’d renovate and then be stepped through how to work with builders and things like that. 

So our biggest concern was not having knowledge of the building industry to begin with, so that we could make the sort of most of the money we’re going to spend on our renovation.

I think if you’re not empowered with knowledge, then you could easily spend your money in the wrong places and end up with something that you’re not happy with. So yeah, for us, it was really important to have that power that comes with the knowledge so that we’re making the right choice.

So we’ve been in the home for about three years now. And we did think that we would start sooner than this. But we did want to be in the home for a little while. Sort of get a feel for how we use the space we had and then know what wasn’t working and how we could streamline things. 

So the only time constraints really was getting the renovation done before our kids leave home. Because there’s nothing worse than you know, when you’ve got all these ideas, or you’d like something to be a certain way. And you don’t want to drag your feet too long, because they grow up so quickly. And before you know it … that you don’t need the space that you created. So we want to get on to it really soon now so that we can enjoy the house as a family.

How did you first discover Undercover Architect?

I can’t quite remember how I discovered Amelia. It was probably through a Google search. I think I was looking for advice. 

So from there, I started listening to a lot of her podcasts and noticed that the website, that Undercover Architect offered online courses, and I thought that was perfect for my husband and I. That we could sit together and refine our goals and plans as we worked through the information that Amelia from Undercover Architect provided.

Did you explore any other options before joining Undercover Architect?

Well, we wanted to renovate and we knew that we were clueless, we didn’t know where to start looking basically. We didn’t consider anything in particular. We, I guess, we probably thought we might just contact a builder and get their advice on what we could or couldn’t do, perhaps with the property. But it just felt like we were working backwards to do that. 

And so I thought it would be best to understand the process better of like, how to come up with a good design for ourselves so that it would run more smoothly.

What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?

After we’d been looking for a little while, and we’d been reading Amelia’s blog, and using the Undercover Architect website and the podcasts, I just really loved the way that she approached educating people and how beautifully she came across. And in a really kind, caring way that didn’t make you feel silly for not knowing it. 

And really helped you to feel like you could learn a lot and then could have that, you could have that knowledge that you could then take with you and have a great conversation with designers and builders, and have a great project.

And so when it came to do a paid course with Undercover Architect, I just felt like it was money really well invested. Because the amount that you pay for the course would well and truly cover all the mistakes you’re probably going to make because you didn’t know all that information. So for me, it just made sense that we were getting supported, and had a lot of knowledge at the same time.

So the money that we spend on the course was well and truly going to be money that we’re saving in the long run because we would be avoiding making mistakes with our renovation

What are you doing differently because of this Undercover Architect course?

So because of all the information that we’ve gathered from doing the Undercover Architecture course, it’s helped us to work out where would be the best spot to place things in our home, according to the orientation, which is something I hadn’t really thought of before. 

So it really helped us to refine our concepts of where we would put things in the home. Depending on where the sun rises and sets and how to best use the space that we’ve got.

How have you benefited from doing Undercover Architect’s courses?

So when it came to choosing a designer, the information that we had learned from Undercover Architect really helped us to have a checklist of things that we would like a designer to be able to help us with. 

And then, you know, it saved time, because we could quickly look at designer websites and sort of know quite quickly just from the information they provide, whether they’re really going to be a great fit for us or not, in terms of the service that we wanted. And so that saved time, so that we had a shortlist then, of designers that we would like to work with, and we contacted a few. 

And then with the answers that the designers came back with, the information that we’d learned from Undercover Architect then helped us to make a choice on who was going to be a great fit for our project.

Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?

I feel that working with Amelia from Undercover Architect will really help us mostly to feel supported.

I really love the online Facebook group that she has, when you do join the course. So that you can ask questions, and her team and herself are so good at getting back to you with any questions that you might have about your project, as well as all the other members that are also going through the same thing as you or similar thing as you. 

So I really enjoyed that level of support that you continue to get once you’ve done an online course, because that’s what’s going to help us keep momentum during our project and see it through to completion.

Yeah, in the Facebook group in the community of Undercover Architect, people will often ask questions, or they’ll share some advice, or hiccup that they might have had that they want to give everyone a heads up on of how to avoid. 

So it really is a valuable resource so that you can ask questions, and also read and see that questions get answered just by seeing other people’s experiences.

What was the best thing about being an Undercover Architect course member?

I think the best thing for our project and for myself, has been the support and the knowledge that Amelia from Undercover Architect has given already, and that I can see she will continue to provide in the future. 

There’s a fortnightly question and answer that she does run with the Facebook group. So there’s continual support there. And so it’s that support that, is going to be the most valuable thing for us.

What would you say to others thinking of joining this Undercover Architect course?

I’d say if you’re sitting on the fence about where you think it’s really worth it to do an online course with Undercover Architect, then really do it. Because we’ve found that there’s so much, and like Amelia does say, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s been a real catch cry that’s made sense to me, because it’s so true.

As you get lead through all of the intricacies of the design and building phases of a project, if you’re not in the design or building industry yourself, you realise how much you need to know, so that you’ve got control and power over your project and to get it right. So it’s really invaluable. We’ve loved it. 

Amelia is such a beautiful person. She really does care about your project, and I really love that she is really keen to help as many people as she can. So we’ve really enjoyed it.

The best research when building or renovating

What’s the best research to do when building or renovating your family home?

Learn the best way to simplify your research journey. Read more here.

I recently read something on social media where a person embarking on their new build project wrote this:

“I have realised that a lot of the research and advice is scattered. Some of it is hidden amongst hours of podcasts, and others across multiple web pages with supplier advertising scattered throughout.”

I thought it was an interesting statement … and it’s a very true reality for anyone who wants to go it alone in their design, building and renovation journey.

I have shared a lot about the information that is available ‘out there’ about creating your future home. About how often I see people disappear down a google rabbit hole, only to come up for air months later with little to show for their efforts (except a lot of overwhelm and unrealistic project goals). 

I contribute a lot to the information that’s out there too, with the podcast, blog posts, youtube videos and social media we are regularly sharing here at Undercover Architect. (And this podcast episode about how to not get lost down a google rabbit hole may be a great first step for you!)

Interestingly, the exercise of research actually involves two angles: one is information gathering, and the other is theory testing.

When you’re building or renovating your home, especially when it’s the first time, information gathering makes sense. You need to collect knowledge, data and ideas so you can understand more about the process, who it involves and what you can expect.

Interestingly though, you’re most likely also theory testing. 

Because with all the media around us feeding us a version of renovating and building on an-almost-nightly-basis, I would hazard a guess that you have some (conscious or unconscious) theories about the process of building and renovating. And so your research will test whether those theories are well-founded, or need redressing.

How quickly those theories get tested and revised will depend on how long you stick with going it alone.

And you going it alone will also impact the time and effort it takes to gather reliable and trustworthy information you can rely upon.

I’m going to be really frank with you here (well, when have you known me to be anything else, hey?)

The longer you persevere with going it alone, your research will be a process of gathering scattered information from varying sources, and patching it together into something that is hopefully of use to you. 

It can be hugely time consuming, misleading before it’s clear and quite draining of your energy and emotion too.

Many feel this is the best way to go, though. And that they’ll save money by navigating their research solo. 

But it costs them in so many other ways. In time, confusion, stress, mis-information. 

And it can cost financially too, as inevitably, they don’t get to make the right choice the first time they make it. 

Solo research means a lot more happens via trial and error – because there’s no guidance from an insider (who’s done this over and over for other people like you) to light the simplest and most suitable pathway for you.

There’s also something to know about ‘free’ information.

And, hilariously, it’s taken me 7 years of working with homeowners (and being aware of myself too) to really learn and see this.

For me, having had to learn how to run an online business from scratch has meant mastering web sites, online graphics, blogging, podcasting, social media, SEO, Facebook, advertising, and all the detailed nitty gritty that goes along with that. UA HQ has always had a very small team. 

I behave entirely differently when I’m paying for advice, knowledge and the research I do … vs the stuff I can access for free.

Even when the paid stuff is something I’ve learned for free already (that’s crazy!)

And for over 7 years now, I’ve been putting out weekly free content. For over 4.5 years now, I’ve been creating a free podcast. 

Every week, on average, I write (me personally – I do all my own content) 10,000 words on designing, building and renovating, and put it out into the world. 

This is the thing about free research vs paid research though: Those that pay, pay attention.

There’s something fascinating about human psychology. When we have to pay for something, we are more likely to:

Research the person or company we’re going to give money to, to see if they’re trustworthy and their advice has valueDecide how badly we need that help or advice (ie how serious we are about taking action on it)Work harder to inform the advice that’s being given (so we can see its applicability to us more readily)Listen more intently to the adviceValue the advice differently because we’ve paid for itAnd take action on the advice we’re given

I’m sure you can think of examples where this has happened for you.

And interestingly, sometimes the investment has to stretch us a little for it to actually compel us to take action.

I know I’ve deliberately invested in things beyond what initially seemed comfortable to me – purely because it was the motivation I really needed to get the results I was chasing. Having made that investment was a great push to keep me disciplined and following through.

What I’ve found personally too, is that I can know I want to make a change, or pursue an ambition … and that the investment in a particular person or process is the next best step. But I hesitate, and stay in my solo research efforts instead. 

I tell myself I don’t have enough time right now to make the most of the investment, or I can still get the results I want on my own.

In those instances, I know the pain of things staying the same isn’t big enough to compel me to act … not just yet, anyway.

But more often than not … the pain of staying the same starts to get bigger than the pain of making a change. Or life delivers me a big kick in the butt, and the investment becomes necessary to take proper action on it.

Getting closer to 50 now, I’ve learned to try and not let things get that bad (took almost half a century, but better late than never, hey? LOL)

​​Because #murphyslaw … usually the butt kick is more financially expensive, or costly in other significant ways, than the investment would have been in the first place.

I’ve learned, it’s actually far easier, and far kinder to yourself, to move towards pleasure … than to move away from pain.

So where are you holding back from making a necessary investment in your research journey? Not just in building and renovating your home – but anywhere in your life?

Where are you fumbling through the research, and juggling a multitude of resources, to guide you on your maiden voyage? 

Want to know the best way to simplify your research journey instead?

Ask yourself: Where can I invest instead to have someone else’s proven methods show me the best way to travel my journey, and achieve the goals I want for myself?

Because then, perhaps you can tailor your research to just finding out who the best person or company is to trust with your journey. That’s immediately a lot less research to do!

And then you can save your time, money and stress, as they guide you and help you get to where you want to go.

Chances are, you’ll enjoy the journey a lot more by having someone in your corner, helping you stay on track and motivated. 

And you’ll achieve that goal you have for yourself far more simply as well.

If you’d like to get started on your renovation or new build project, my Get Started Guide is a fantastic resource to help you do just that. 

It will teach you the first steps any project needs to take, whatever your dreams, location or budget, and whoever you’re working with. Learn more about it here >>> GET STARTED GUIDE

And, if you’d especially like to get started on your home design, then the mini-course ‘Happy Home Design’ will help you. 

You’ll learn more about what decisions really matter in happy home design, and how you can design a home that is functional, fantastic and feel-good >>> HAPPY HOME DESIGN

If you’d like to learn how to choose the right builder, and learn how the specific checks to do, and questions to ask, when interviewing builders for your project >>> CHOOSE YOUR BUILDER

Do you want to build or renovate?

You have seen the many articles on builders collapsing with material and trades prices going “through the roof”. Builders holding homeowners, with fixed price contracts to ransom if they don’t pay the extra variation, they won’t get the key to their homes.

There are no winners. The builder’s cost has hugely increased, and the homeowner must agree to pay the amount yet cannot get access or have their home built or complete.

What to do if you want to build or renovate? There is another option!

Owner Build, where you can control the project from start to finish. To make this easy to understand we have the process broken down into 4 key areas:

1. Project Management.

Can you or do you need to contract a Project Manager to manage the building process.

It is important that whether it is you or a project manager, who can be a Registered Builder who would provide you Warranty Insurance if the contract value is over your state’s minimum indemnity requirements, have the necessary skills to build the project.

2. Quantity estimates of your Project.

Contract a Quantity Surveyor to supply you the above with actual costings and purchase orders for you to use in obtaining quotes from suppliers and trades. This will give you a reference point in your negotiations with suppliers and an understanding of the trade’s costs.

3. Materials.

Now that you know what size timber you need, for example, you can approach suppliers seeking a fixed price. As the Quantity Estimator will have given you a building timeline, you will know what date you will need your supplies. Now comes the negotiations. All suppliers work on 30/60/90-day terms with builders, meaning they must pay for the materials before the builder pays them.

You will pay on delivery! This means the supplier is being paid before they pay their wholesaler/supplier. This helps their cash flow considerably and is a big incentive to want your business. You need to contract with your supplier that they need to deliver on a set date, and you will pay on delivery. This way suppliers can plan their purchases and you now have a fixed price.

4. Trades.

If you are in the trade, or your project manager will know trades and they need to be given a timeline and payment confirmation once their job is completed. Money in the hand is a big incentive. If you are borrowing the money you need to be aware of the drawdown process of the bank and how long between approval and when your money is in your account.

Construction and Public Liability Insurance is a must have. Please read through our website to increase your knowledge.

The post Do you want to build or renovate? appeared first on Australian Owner Builders.

Knockdown And Rebuild Project | Undercover Architect Member Review

Monique was initially doubtful of her plan to do a knockdown rebuild. However, with the guidance from Undercover Architect’s HOME Method, she gained the confidence and guidance she needed.

Monique had already completed the building plans for her new home, when she came across Amelia Lee and Undercover Architect. 

However, she lacked the confidence to proceed with her build. She was unsure of the quality of the work that she had done and whether her plans were solid. 

Through HOME Method she was able to easily identify the changes she needed to make, and she became more focused on creating a home to suit her family.

Monique is a member of HOME Method. 

I’m Monique, I am married with two children. We live in Sydney. And we are doing a knockdown rebuild. We’ve lived in our home for 15 years, so we want to stay in the area. And just basically, the house we live in now no longer suits us. So we need to do a knockdown rebuild.

We actually started this planning five years ago. And all that work’s been done and everything, almost ready. And then we got to question ourselves whether we were doing the right thing, whether everything has, you know, done, you know, everything. So we got to the point that we were sort of having doubts. 

And I said, no, I can’t do this. So we put that on hold, and then continue to just keep on looking for project homes and educating ourselves. 

And that’s when we come across the Undercover Architect. And I said, ‘oh, this is great’. That was like, maybe two years ago. So we decided we have to enrol ourselves, we need to get this going. Because the kids are growing up. 

So we enrolled in one of Amelia’s courses, so that’s how we started and just joining that course made us feel more confident and just knowing what to expect for this build, for this major, major project.

What concerns did you have before you started?

The major concern was really not knowing whether we are making the right choice. We’ve already done the project and the design and everything. But we started doubting, ‘hey, are we making the right choices?’ 

So we just need to know that, yes, we are on the right track, or we need to tweak some of our designs. 

And just joining the Undercover Architect has given us that much needed confidence. Just reinforcing that, yes, you are making the right choices. And some of our choices, also not so good, which we managed to make those changes along the way.

How did you first discover Undercover Architect?

We discovered Undercover Architect from one of another podcasts that basically Amelia was, was introduced to us on. So from then on, because we’re very fond of podcasts, just listening to it to and from work. 

So I got into the Undercover Architect. So from then on, I just keep on listening and listening and just continue to educate myself. So basically from, she was introduced by another podcast that I was listening to.

Did you explore any other options before joining Undercover Architect?

Yes, we did. We’ve visited all the project homes in Sydney. Which we, which was quite overwhelming. So many builders to choose from. So we’re sort of confused which of these builders actually would suit us and would work with us. 

So during the joining the Undercover Architect has given us a checklist on how to choose the right builder that would suit us. So that even has empowered us to even, okay, keep going, keep going, we’re on the right track. And that’s it. Me, it makes the journey a lot easier. Be honest.

What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?

Well, we just feel like we’re sort of constrained in time. And Amelia has offered us everything in that course, like how to get it right, and everything that you need to know for our project. So we just focus on that one, and, and having that course and Amelia’s help behind it, it just makes everything so, so smooth and easy.

The paid course has actually given us more detail. It goes into the nitty and gritty, and giving you all the, she’s given us the spreadsheet even, up to the specification of materials. What materials to choose, and what options we have, which we didn’t have that one in the normal podcast.

And joining the courses also has a members-only Facebook page, which we can throw all sorts of questions, and Amelia will give us every fortnight, a live question and answer, which is great. So having that support behind you while you’re having this big, big project and all these decisions to be made, and having that group is such a big help.

Has it been worthwhile doing Undercover Architect courses?

Yes. Oh, yes. I’ve recommended it to all my friends that are thinking of doing the build. I said, you’re not paying what the course is worth. It saves you a lot of headaches, and just avoiding those mistakes that you know, you’re likely to make anyway. So, yes, it’s well worth it.

What are you doing differently because of this Undercover Architect course?

I was more aware, working with the Undercover Architect, I was more aware of what is important. That I shouldn’t be looking or focusing my time and attention on what’s being shown in the project homes. Because those ones may not be suitable for our needs. 

So Amelia has actually given us some tips on understanding what your family needs. And what you have to make sure that it ticks all the boxes. Your home will basically be a place where all your needs and that suits you, for, as a forever home.

How have you benefited from doing Undercover Architect’s courses?

Knowing this is in terms of the design, and the, about installations as well. And in getting into those details, because sometimes the designer just doesn’t really explain much or doesn’t give you, doesn’t give you the, what is it that’s available. What, what else can you do. What are the other options that are available. They don’t really give that to you unless you ask. 

So having the knowledge from the course actually enables us to engage with the designer and ask them, can you do this? Or is this possible? And all those questions were basically what we’ve learned from the course. 

So we know what to ask them, and what are the options and whether, then we can make those decisions, that okay, this is right. It’s working. The decision is working. And it’s all going to be good.

Did it help you save time and money?

Oh, absolutely. It does. Because in the long run, if we didn’t make the, or we didn’t ask those questions, that it’s not a priority for the designer, they’re not really focused on … I’m referring more to the, making sure the home is comfortable, thermally comfortable, and, and, you know, it functions well. That’s, that’s not really, the designer wasn’t really more focused on that one. 

So I was the one that’s been pushing on that aspect, because I learned how important it is to have that tick that box. So that’s one thing we’ve learned from the course.

And just engaging the designer with, you know, those questions, and they, then they feel like, okay, you have some knowledge about this, then they’re more prepared to give you, you know, more information about those things. Just, just the way you ask. 

If you know how to ask the question, then they’re likely to be more engaging, because they know that you know something.

Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?

Well the course, the Undercover Architect has really helped us avoid those mistakes. 

Because during the course, Amelia actually signposts us, that hey, during this stage these are the most common mistakes. So knowing that, in advance, has helped us prepare or just don’t do it. Just don’t do it. So yes, it saves us a lot of money and time. 

Time really, is because you avoid that mistake. So you don’t have to spend time fixing that mistake, because you avoided it in the first place.

What is the best thing about the Undercover Architect course?

I think so far the best one is knowing that the design of our home is to maximised to our orientation of our block. 

And just knowing that the design, when this is all enough and is all finished, that the home will suit us in, in our functions well, in accordance to our needs as a family.

What would you say to others thinking of joining this Undercover Architect course?

Well, all I can say is it saved us a lot of time and money, and has given us the confidence that we didn’t have, and actually helped us to keep going. 

Because every now and then you start to doubt your choices. 

So having the help and being in this course, enrolling in this course, has helped us make those choices a lot easier, because you’re making an informed decision.

Who would you recommend the UA courses for?

It’s pretty much for everyone who’s planning to do a build or renovation. You get the benefit of joining the course, because the course is pretty much like, covers everything you can think of. 

Before this course, I didn’t even realise how many choices we have to make. So just knowing what’s ahead of you has equipped me. 

Okay, by this stage, I have to make this choice. So way in advance I already know I have to make that choice. And I have all the time to research, so I can make an informed decision.

What have you learned because of this Undercover Architect course?

Well, because of the Undercover Architect, I feel more excited and actually looking forward for this project to finish. 

And I’m more like, okay, all the knowledge that I’ve learned, it gets tested. 

So that’s really the most empowering part of like, joining the course. Because you know. You know what to expect and it’s a lot easier to deal with when you’re in that really stressful, you know, time that you’re doing construction. 

And it just makes it a lot easier when you know what to expect, what’s ahead of you.

How to save money during the design phase

Want to know how to save money during the design phase?

Design with this in mind: how will you live, and how will your home be furnished? Learn more here.

It’s a goal for many homeowners to figure out how to save money during your renovation or new build.

And this can happen in a variety of ways.

Some review the people they hire and look to where they can save money in professional fees. For example, many feel that an architect is out of their budget for their project, because they want to save those fees for the construction costs. 

(And whilst I’m really passionate about helping you find and choose the right designer for you, regardless of their profession, please don’t assume an architect will be more expensive. Or that those fees are not an investment that will save you money and create a greater return on your investment. 

For some more info on who you should choose to design your project, whatever it is, check Episode 209 and Episode 210 of the podcast, or download the PDF transcripts).

Some review the builder they use. Saving money in this instance might mean working with a volume builder who operates at lower margins, but reduces the amount of customised design and detailing you can do. Or saving money might mean pushing the builder you do want to use, to reduce their margin. 

(In the research we’ve done inside Live Life Build, we’ve found that most builders doing custom renovation and building projects, need to charge a margin of around 16% – 18% to cover their business overheads. That does not include a profit margin – so a margin of 30% is not unusual for a custom builder to charge to run a sustainable business).

Some review the way their project is structured, and if there are parts of it they can do more cheaply than others, by trying to manage trades directly, or doing the work themselves. Or they believe they’ll save money by sourcing their materials and products directly, separating them from their building contract to avoid paying the builder’s margin on those items.

(DIY can save money, but it can also cost you more. Often DIY takes people a lot longer to execute, especially when being juggled with a normal schedule of work and family life. Mistakes mean you can have to redo work, or things are not as durable. If you want to separate trades or materials from your builder’s contract, I recommend listening to Episode 198 and Episode 199 of the podcast or download the PDF transcripts, to check you’re managing your risk).

And some review the materials and products they’re selecting to seek more budget options, lower cost items, or off-the shelf products they can source more inexpensively. This can certainly save money, however, if it’s done as an effort to reduce a builder’s quote, or it’s the only way you seek to save money, the savings can be marginal.

So what’s the best way to save money in your renovation or new build project? 

It’s in the decisions you make during the design phase.

And a lot of these decisions can be related to:

The size of home you designThe types of spaces you create in that homeWhat will be involved in structurally making your design workAnd what choices you make with your site to accommodate your home as well (and if you’ll be doing lots of excavation and retaining)

Let’s talk about size and spaces, because they’re actually what will make the biggest impact on saving money in your project or new build.

One of the big things I find many members of the HOME Method experience as they work through the course content online, is that it enables them to become incredibly intentional about their plans for the future home.

And as a result, they usually find they need less home than they had originally planned to create.

Less home … but far more efficiently designed, far more functional, and still creating an enriching, comfortable and sustainable place to live and experience. 

To get started on designing like this, you need to get really clear on how you want to live in your future home, and really interrogate the expectations and attachments you have to particular ideas, rooms, and spaces.

And be really honest with yourself too.

In the middle of the year, I was fortunate enough to get away with my family to far north Queensland for two weeks. (Going into week five of lockdown, I now feel SUPER fortunate we had that time away!) We attended the Laura Dance Festival, and travelled to Cape Tribulation, and spent time in Cairns either side. And during that time we spent eight days travelling in an RV together … my hubby, my three kids, and me. 

We had an awesome time together. And it gave me that precious time away to rethink, refocus, review a lot of things – including the reno plans hubby and I were making.

Since coming back, I’ve reframed the ideas about our planned renovation. Redesigned the scope so the spaces are smaller, we’re doing less to the house, and it’s a simpler project. I’ve reassessed the priorities, and designed from there.

And I’ve noticed it’s not easy. Especially whilst I’m able to sketch, and play with ideas, and push and pull lines around on the page.

It’s really easy to make the spaces a bit bigger. Or to disrupt that structure more. Or to remove that section of roof to open up for better views or a bit more space. 

It’s also really easy to be thinking: I have a business teaching people how to renovate and build. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years. Shouldn’t I do a bigger project, a more ‘showcase’ style of a project? One that really changes this home and makes its mark?

But does my family really need any of that? I don’t think so. 

My kids are itching for a room of their own. I’m itching for an office with a permanent setup for podcasting, video and writing that has stable internet. And we all would like an updated bathroom, with a bath! A kitchen with better storage, and a covered outdoor entertaining area that fits all of us for a meal.

What about regrets though? Will we regret that, if we’re going to do this project anyway, that we didn’t also make bigger changes, or add more space?

Maybe – but I don’t think so. I think we’ll all enjoy having the cash in the bank account (or, let’s be honest – less debt), to spend on other things (such as another holiday, fingers crossed), and less house to clean, run and maintain.

But it can be hard to keep that in focus. Especially when we’re swamped with imagery that shows 5m long kitchen island benches, and big butler’s pantries, and massive walls of glass, big open cathedral ceilings, and all the other ‘inspirational’ imagery. 

I know that as I’m designing, I’m constantly asking myself: what’s enough for us?

So, what’s enough home for you? 

One last thing I want to mention, that’s really critical in checking the space that is being created in your floor plan … as it’s being designed. And confirming that it’s functional, what you want, and sized appropriately for your lifestyle.

Don’t wait until you move into your finished house to figure out how you’ll use every single space in your home.

I see loads of designs online where there’s what I call “lazy space”. It’s space …

that’s leftover in a room

or in the middle of a poorly resolved floorplan

or was created to line up structure, or a roof, or an external wall, but doesn’t have an intended use

… and then the homeowner is left with figuring out how to make it functional.

What can often happen is that this doesn’t get realised until the homeowner moves in. The space had furniture on it on the plans, so they didn’t mentally engage with it (even though it wasn’t a space they asked for or thought they needed).

Or they’ve just delayed figuring it out until they can get a feel for it in real life and suss out how they might use it then.

And what can also happen is that the extra-space-with-no-real-use ends up diminishing the functionality of the home as a whole.

Whether it’s through creating a strange flow in the house, reducing the use and intimacy of specific rooms, or just being a space that becomes a dumping ground (because you don’t regularly use it in your everyday life, so the dumping doesn’t *really* get in the way – except to clutter up your home) … it has an impact on your whole experience of your home.

You pay for all the space you build … even the lazily designed space.

So be intentional about what you’ll use ALL the space for before you commit to building it.

And don’t wait until you’ve moved in to figure out how you’ll use your WHOLE home.

And this may sound harsh … but I see it all the time as people can’t wrap their heads around a long term lifestyle in their family home.

Don’t create a house for the imaginary person you might be if you just had all this extra space and things. Space for space’s sake sucks.

Get the support and guidance from an industry professional who has worked with countless clients like you. Tap into their knowledge of what you might need. They can help you future proof your home, without necessarily making it bigger, or adding extra rooms.

But mostly, get to know yourself. Get to know how you want to live. Do the research. Do the work.

Then YOU decide for yourself … because it’s your investment and your future.

What’s enough home for you?

If you’d like to get started on your renovation or new build project, my Get Started Guide is a fantastic resource to help you do just that. 

It will teach you the first steps any project needs to take, whatever your dreams, location or budget, and whoever you’re working with. Learn more about it here >>> GET STARTED GUIDE

And, if you’d especially like to get started on your home design, then the mini-course ‘Happy Home Design’ will help you. 

You’ll learn more about what decisions really matter in happy home design, and how you can design a home that is functional, fantastic and feel-good >>> HAPPY HOME DESIGN

If you’d like to learn how to choose the right builder, and learn how the specific checks to do, and questions to ask, when interviewing builders for your project >>> CHOOSE YOUR BUILDER

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