A Brisbane Home Renovation | Undercover Architect Member Review

Kobie, with her husband, undertook a Brisbane home renovation of their Queenslander, transforming it into their ideal family home.

Even though she’d never renovated before, she and her husband were able to prepare for their project, and learn what they needed to know. 

Through choosing the right team, and being guided through the decision making process with confidence, she was able to achieve the home transformation she dreamed of.

Listen as Kobie shares her experience of getting ready for Brisbane home renovation, and how Undercover Architect helped her feel more confident and in control of her project.

Kobie is a member of HOME Method.

My name is Kobie. My husband and I bought our house, a Queenslander, many years ago now, but we always had plans to renovate it but we didn’t know what that looked like. We discovered Amelia’s podcast in May 2017 and we were part of her Reno Roadmap program (now known as HOME Method) by that August. And Amelia gave us the confidence to speak to builders really early on and we got a lot of great ideas. 

A year later in June 2018, we engaged an architect and we took our time, we did lots of iterations in the design. And in October 2019, we started building. So we renovated our Queenslander and just in the middle of COVID, the project finished and we got to move back in. So we’ve been back here in the house for over six months now and we’re loving the changes that we made.

What are you doing differently because of what you learned?

We lifted up a single story Queenslander and we brought the living area and the kitchen downstairs underneath it, and turned the whole of upstairs into, into bedrooms and made an open plan living area underneath for the garage. So we went from a three bedroom, one bathroom house, to three bedroom, three and a half bathroom, two living area. 

So it was really good to be able to, to bring on an architect at the very beginning and say ‘this is actually what we want to achieve’. And not say ‘we want three and a half bathrooms and three bedrooms, but we want to live in this way’. 

And so framing it in that way meant we got the most potential out of our architect to use their creativity to come up with how we could use our space. And we did get some surprises that we were not expecting but are very grateful that have been incorporated in the build.

What were you concerned about before starting your new build journey?

Neither my husband nor I had done any construction before. That’s not the industry we work in. But we both wanted to be involved in the process. 

So we really enjoyed how Amelia enabled us to confidently talk to the different trades we had involved, and get the people on board our team that not only matched our design vision, but also our communication style.I think our biggest struggle was decision making, and how much we needed to do. And Amelia’s tools really helped with us being able to front end load some of our decision making, so that we weren’t doing it while the project was happening. And we wouldn’t have to have those time pressures. 

So we were able to have much of our decision making prepared beforehand and present that to the builder, even during the quoting process. Which made the whole process a lot easier for us. There were still lots of decisions, but most of them we’d already been able to make ahead of time. 

How did you first discover Undercover Architect?

Yeah, um, I don’t actually remember how I came across the podcast. But it was definitely early days when it was season one or two. And I was hooked. And I was waiting for the next episode to come out. And we started off with, you know, the aspect of the house being north facing and I was like, okay, so these are the things that we need to incorporate into our design. 

And I really, I really got attracted to Amelia’s energy, and also being a female in a male dominated industry. And that really struck a chord with me, as similar to my line of work. 

And so I thought, no, this is, this is a woman that’s out to empower other women. And that really resonated with me. 

So when I read about the Reno Roadmap (now HOME Method), I thought, no, this is exactly the toolkit that I would like beside me to do my project rather than going in blind, or finding checklists on random websites. I thought this, if this is guided.

Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?

I think we were very lucky with our builder, that due to the way we selected the builder, we had this great communication style. So I think that a lot of our future possible problems were alleviated because we chose the right builder. But we did that because we knew what questions we needed to ask from the onset. 

So I think getting the right people into the team was really, really important. And Amelia stressed that a lot. And I’m grateful she did.

Did you consider joining any other course out there?

I had seen other courses around. A lot of them were more focused on the design aspect and less on the technical and less on the actual construction. 

I think the other thing that attracted me to her course was that she did do it from a perspective of actually getting a builder in rather than doing a lot of the work yourself. And we weren’t, we were never in the position to do any of the work ourselves. We’re not DIY’ers. 

So I think the course was attractive to us that it really met the intentions of our build, and what we were hoping to achieve.

Why did you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?

Yeah. I didn’t want… I did the paid course because I didn’t want to get led by the builder. I also wanted to have some independence and be able to make suggestions to change how we were doing things if that was necessary. 

I also was attracted to Amelia’s course because of the structure. It was very systematic in how it was laid out and the topics that she covered. There are a lot of parallels to the podcast, but that extra bit of information I found really valuable. 

And it saved me time that I didn’t have to go trawling through the internet and find things, whether they were relevant or not to my job, to my, my build.

What do you enjoy most about the Undercover Architect courses?

Um, yeah, it’s been a while. But I think the, the part of the course that added the most value to me, would have been the Facebook group. And it being a small group where you actually got to know the other people that are doing the course quite well. 

And you post your progress and ask open queries to the group as well of, ‘how did you overcome this?’ Or, ‘did you know you had to do this this far ahead?’ 

And it was just this added wealth of information that, yeah, I think from like minded people going through it as you’re going through it. So that was, that was something I don’t think money could buy. That everybody was speaking the same language, pointing to the similar sections in the, in the course material, and saying, ‘how did you, how did you do this? How did you do this?’ 

And it was, it was really good. I do miss it now that we’re not part of it anymore. I do, I did enjoy paying it forward as well into the group. 

What did you do differently because of what you learned?

Yeah, definitely. Um, there was a couple of design changes we did make. Specifically some skylights we’ve put into our kitchen, and they puzzled us, on how to align them and how to get them working the best as we could in that situation. 

And yeah, I posted the post into the Facebook group, and yeah, Amelia took the time to respond. And in our kitchen now we have Amelia’s design for our skylights, which is kind of special. 

Having an architect, yeah, on hand, to answer some of those specific design questions. When, yeah, our design had been finalised by our architects, so we were no longer, yeah, in communication with them per se, or it was going to cost us extra to go back to them. And just asking for a different opinion, which was, yeah, which was great.

Yeah, I think we were very open with our builders, saying that we wanted to be abreast of everything that was happening on site. That we didn’t have the technical skills, that we were using Amelia, in fact, as a medium to kind of translate and overcome some of that barrier. And they were really receptive of that as well. 

We also did Amelia’s Manage Your Build course (which is inside HOME Method), and that even stepped through some of those details a little bit more. So we got to the framing stage and we, okay, we need to keep an eye out for this, and this, and this is coming up ahead. 

So we knew, or we could anticipate what our builder was about to ask us next. So having that, that insider knowledge was really helpful.

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

I think, um, I think the best thing is that we got through the project. We’re at the other end. We’ve… We’re living in a beautiful house now. And we didn’t have any major drama and I think that was, that was the best outcome. Being able to be prepared and, and having a plan. 

So I think all the preparation that we, that we did, thanks to Amelia, really helped us know where we were headed. 

So we had all the answers for the builder ahead. He could pre-order everything as COVID was coming through. So we didn’t have any supply issues. So I yeah, I think the success is that we had a really great project. We were able to track through our budget, and yeah, come in on time, and yeah, be living here now.

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

The renovation project is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. And that all the interior design options can come after you’ve got the bones set. And investing into how you build your house and create those foundations is really important. And Amelia can really help with that. 

Yeah, I think the soft furnishings is still a work in progress in our house and I’ve got years to perfect that. But my layout, and my windows and doors and my flooring is all exactly how I want it for the next 25 or 30 years. So I’m really happy with that.

Is there anything else you would like to share about the course?

Yeah, I’m really grateful to Amelia. Like I was, we were lucky enough to meet her at a design expo and in town when she came up to. So that was really lovely as well, to actually say thank you to, to her face. So doesn’t feel as stalkerish as you know, watching Instagram videos. 

So now I’m very grateful to Amelia and it’s a great service that she’s provided and I hope many more, yeah, get to live through the great experience.

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