Top Tips for Bathroom Design

Getting it right in your bathroom design is important so you create a space that’s functional and feels great.

Mistakes can be expensive to rectify, and so avoiding them is worthwhile! Learn more with these top tips.

Bathrooms can be a really cost-intensive area of any renovation or new build project, so you want to make sure the investment is worthwhile.

Bathrooms are also rooms that need to be functional, easy to clean, plus work for us as the places we visit at the beginning and end of our days.

Over the years, bathrooms have become more and more luxurious. 

And there’s so many ways you can have fun, or express your aesthetic preferences, or create a relaxing haven in your bathroom design.

However, homeowners still get some of the basics wrong, which can be incredibly frustrating when it’s such a permanent room, and such a costly room to fix or refurbish.

So, let me share 5 top tips with you, when it comes to functional bathroom design.

#1 Plan the bathroom for privacy overall

Design the location of the bathroom and the access to it, so it maintains privacy, even with the door open.

This is one of the reasons I always suggest locating the toilet behind the door. That way, even if someone is sitting on it when the door opens, they’re not exposed straight away.

Consider what you’ll see in the bathroom when the door is open. It’s generally possible (based on how you plan the bathroom itself) to pull the door off the hallway, and further into the space.

For the ensuite, avoid being able to see into it from the pillow of your bed. This will help protect privacy, create a more restful master bedroom, and also avoid the light of the ensuite waking whoever is in bed when one of you goes to the loo in the middle of the night.

#2 Position the fixtures you plan to have in your bathroom design

Any bathroom will include large sanitaryware items, such as the toilet, vanity, bath and shower.

However, there’ll also be smaller (but just as necessary) items, such as the towel rails, hand towel rails, toilet roll holder, robe hooks, and mirror.

Think about the location of these items as you’re designing the layout of the bathroom, and then ensure they’re located on drawings so your builder knows where they go.

That way, you’ll avoid assumptions being made on site, and having them ending up in less-than-ideal locations.

A special tip for the toilet roll holder: design the bathroom so it can be positioned beside you (as opposed to behind you) when sitting on the loo.

It’s awkward to have to rotate 180 degrees to grab the toilet paper. Fixing it to a shower screen or on the side of the vanity is not a great solution – so look to have a wall beside the toilet if you can.

#3 Pay attention to door swings and openings in your bathroom design

In any room, the way the door swings open ‘reveals’ what’s in the room. It also takes up space within the room as it swings open.

Review the way your doors access the bathrooms in your home, and consider what will be ‘revealed’ as those doors are opened.

Plus, plan for ease of access, and avoid the door swing clashing with where someone may be standing at the vanity, or the space where a shower door may be opening into as well.

Don’t forget the door stops. They can be located on the floor if you don’t want the door bashing into the toilet (or someone’s knees when sitting on it).

Cavity sliders can be a space-saving solution, however they generally require ‘double-studding’ (adding another thickness of wall framing) so you have a solid wall on which to tile and add fixtures, so consider that with your dimensions.

#4 Details matter in smaller spaces when functionality is required

Bathrooms are an area where detail design helps the space thrive. When it comes to bathrooms, so many of the detailed decisions need to be considered during the design phase, so they’re on your drawings right at the start of construction.

Once the bathroom is lined and waterproofed, it can be costly to make changes and involve re-doing a lot of completed work.

Details you need to think about include floor set-downs so you can have flush floor levels into your bathroom; where powerpoints will be located, your tile setout, and where floor wastes and water supply is positioned.

If you want a wall-hung vanity, decide that before your drawings are complete.

The best way to show these details (plus the positions of everything in the room, including the extent and set out of your tiling) is with interior elevations of your bathroom itself.

#5 Design the lighting in your bathroom: natural and night-time

Bathrooms are one of the spaces that can tolerate being on the western side of your home, because their use means they can tolerate that hotter setting sun, and it enables you to prioritise the location of other spaces in the home that you spend more time in (and getting those spaces to work better for orientation).

However, for bathrooms to work, they need good quality light.

Natural light and ventilation is very useful for a bathroom – not only for functionality, but also for dealing with humidity in those spaces.

For electric lighting, design a solution that gives functionality (for task-based needs such as skin care, putting on makeup etc), and also creates a relaxing mood when needed (a good bath with a book!)

Create flexibility in your lighting situation to achieve this. This can also be lovely for adding a particular design element to your bathroom too (a feature light, for example, that’s not for task lighting, but works for creating that mood).

There’s some tips for you, and I hope you find this helpful.

There can be a lot to consider when it comes to bathroom design, however, so here’s some extra resources for you to help with your bathroom design >>>

Episode 06 [#23] | Bathrooms, ensuites and powder roomsEpisode 11 [#144] | Shopping online for tiles with TileCloudEpisode 13 [#152] | Interior design for your bathroomEpisode 15 [#154] | Choosing your bathroom fixtures with Reece

Inside Interior Design 101, I have a special lesson on bathroom layout, and also walk you through some detailed drawings to highlight what they look like.

And, in Home Design Masterclass, there’s a 45 min video on bathroom design, with example layouts and specific dimensions to consider.

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
The post Top Tips for Bathroom Design appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Renovating an Old Terrace House | Undercover Architect Member Review

Candace and her husband bought a terrace house as an investment property and plan to do a renovation project with the help of Undercover Architect’s course, Home Design Masterclass.

Listen as she shares her journey with us of getting ready to renovate an old terrace house, and working with her builder husband, whilst managing 3 kids under 5!

I’m Candace from Sydney, and I’m married to a carpenter / builder. We have three children under the age of five, so life is really busy. And we’ve just bought an investment property. It’s an old terrace in Redfern.

So, it’s in an older part of Sydney closer to the city. And it’s a five metre wide terrace that we will be building up on. I guess when we first looked at it, you think, well there’s only kind of one way to go up. But since learning everything that I’ve learned, and obviously with my husband’s skills, there’s really tricky and creative ways to bring in light, considering it’s kind of locked on either side, with all the other terraces. And yeah, it’s exciting.

What challenges were you worried about before you started?

So the challenge for me was just my lack of knowledge and understanding. So obviously, my husband and I have heaps of conversations about things, and I have learned a lot. But, you know, being part of Amelia, the UA community and doing the Home Design Masterclass, has really enabled me to 100% understand what’s going on.

So, to the point where we currently rent, it’s just, it’s always felt terrible, like there’s no light, the aspect is really terrible, but I just thought it was that. But then after doing the Course, and realising that, you know, there should be certain distances around the dishwasher, and the fridge shouldn’t open up to the entrance of the kitchen, and all of these things, that’s why it feels so bad in here. Because of all the “To Don’t” is exactly how the kitchen where I currently live is. So just knowing those little things when we go forward.

And, you know, when I look at the plans now, I know what I’m looking at. And I feel more empowered to, I guess, not just be the ‘nod yes wife’ of the builder, sort of thing. Like I really have valid points to make because I understand what I’m looking at now.

And just something simple that we’ve asked the Architect, that he doesn’t get any clients asking, and I learned this through my UA experience, and that’s the aspect and the orientation of the properties. So he was really, really, I guess, what was he? He was shocked that we asked it! And that’s the reason why we’d like him as an Architect because he is aware of those things. 

Because I think, if it was in the wrong way, and you didn’t pay attention to that stuff. And somewhere where you’re going to live forever and have, like, this great design, and then go to live in it and there’s no light or you know, things don’t work. It would be devastating. Absolutely devastating. And I guess you don’t know until you are actually in there, for most people.

How has the Undercover Architect course helped you with your builder-husband?

I feel like we had, we definitely had better conversations. Because he did ask me some questions, so I think there was some checking, like, obviously, there’s things that he knows, but he’s also you know, he’s been in the industry for 20 years.

But every build is different, and every client is different, working with every Architect is different. So he’s always learning,I guess, you know, things that were done 10 years ago that aren’t done now. And yes, that always leaves for really interesting conversations as to what I’m learning versus, you know, what he’s experiencing. And, you know, even to the point where people, some clients that he works with, and Architects that he may work with, he comes in as an industry expert because of all of the knowledge that he’s got. 

And it was definitely all the stuff that Amelia talks about. So it kind of makes me love him and trust him even more too, because I hear all the things that he said, and then I’m learning it for myself through Undercover Architect.

Has the Undercover Architect course helped your budget?

I feel the course has 100% helped with that. It’s also something that my partner’s really strict with as well.

So you know, like, choosing materials, and just, I guess, working with professionals that accurately quote is a big thing. So, I haven’t personally experienced this, but I’ve definitely experienced it through, I guess, the bidding process with my husband or the tendering process, sorry, with my husband, where, you know, he’ll be out priced by a stupid amount of money, and it’s only because everything’s not included on the quote. And then, you know, it’s all of these variations that happen later. 

And you know, so many times you’ll get a call up later to go back and fix the work that wasn’t done because it wasn’t on the scope. So, it was good for me to reiterate that, and learn that through Amelia in Undercover Architect.

But I think it’s really important that, you know, people that don’t actually have that skill, it’s invaluable in regards to that protection that it it gives you. The knowledge, so that you know what you’re looking at on a quote.  I tell everybody that I know that talks about building or that I know is going to renovate to jump on her website. And yeah, she’s very, very generous in everything that she shares. 

So I feel like you get so much knowledge just from watching her, her social media platforms. And then to actually experience even more through the paid course, which is so, so generous.

Why did you decide to join the Undercover Architect Course?

I really was genuinely curious about knowing the nitty gritty and the way that she explains it, and the knowledge that I gained is just in the simple, kind of layman’s term. So, really easy to understand, but really in depth on the same token, and I just really wanted to dive in. 

I guess, leading into this renovation project, and the thought that this is something we’re going to continue to do, you know, a few times. This is what we’ve decided is going to be our financial, sort of retirement, sort of plan, is to use his skills.

And I thought, if that’s something that we’re going to do, then I need to, for my own personal, I guess, confidence and security, just needed to learn, you know, at a deeper level.

What have you learned because of this Undercover Architect course?

So we’ve done a renovation before. My husband was, this was 10 years ago, so he was even more fresh. I had no idea what was going on. My mother-in-law now lives in that house. There’s definitely things through learning from the course, that I now look at that project, and like oh ok, and yeah, this is why this feels like this. The bench space to the island bench is definitely not big enough, we should have cut it down.

In regards to the projects that we’re about to do, I think because we’ve had, we’ve had, an Architect involved, but then also we’ve had really in depth conversations through the whole thing with kind of being on the same page. Or I’ve put in input, or he’s put in input. Sort of to-and-fro, if that makes sense. So it’s definitely enhanced my experience through it for sure.

What are you doing differently because of what you’ve learned?

I love a freestanding bath, and in any pictures that I come across or any, you know, designing bathroom showrooms, the freestanding bath will always be placed up against the wall. 

Now, that’s how we did it in the project that we did about 10 years ago: is the freestanding bath, the beautiful freestanding bath, and it’s placed up against the wall. So Amelia explains in the Home Design Masterclass, that you need to bring it out or build it into, I think the word ‘a hob’ or something I’m not too sure of exact terminology, and just talking about being able to clean behind the bath. Like, well, of course. 

So my mother-in-law must break her back because she’s a clean freak. To get the broom and everything in behind there. And it’s just honestly not something that I’d ever thought about until I’d done the Course. And of course, how would you get behind the bath because there’s always water going there to clean it. So yeah, that’s probably my biggest takeaway, because I love the freestanding baths. 

There’s so many things like that Amelia talks about. The dishwasher not being next to your cooking space, and in a lot of the kit homes, definitely even I think, even the newer day sort of kit homes you know, I guess, they try and compact everything. 

But definitely in the house that we live in now, you’ve got your stove, and then on the right angle there you’ve got the dishwasher, and then you’ve got the big void of a corner space. And it’s like well, that is such a big void of wasted space. The dishwasher’s there, so you can’t be cooking while you’re doing dishwasher. So yeah, all those things have just been amazing to learn because I would never even have thought of, you know, how much of a wasted space those corner, sort of, where thebenches turn into a corner in a kitchen. 

I think the course as well, as you go through it, it picks apart every single room in detail. So it forces you to think about the design of those rooms.

But also then on the flip side, like who’s the right person in there and how they like, what sort of, I guess, what result do I want, to be able to then talk to that tradesperson who’s going to create it, if that makes sense. Where, if you kind of looking at a plan, or a room and you vaguely know what you want, it’s easy to feel bamboozled when this tradesperson is throwing all of their trade speak out.

But because with the Course, you go through every single room in detail, it’s almost like you walk into that room and you live in it before you’ve even built it if that makes sense. So your picture is a lot clearer.

Did you have a favourite part of the Undercover Architect course?

Because I love a good kitchen and I’ve always had an ideal kitchen planned in my head for my forever home. And now that I’ve got like, the nitty gritty information on measurements and having spaces for all your appliances to live. And that I’m uber, uber excited for my forever home, so that you know, I do have all these places. So it was definitely my favourite. My most favourite.

That’s because I love the kitchen. We spend, as a family, all of our time in the kitchen. So even the simple thing of… Amelia spoke about somewhere for your keys to go consistently, and we’ve got that where we live now. But it’s not really designed for that. So it looks horrible. It’s not neat.

And paperwork! Some of the paperwork to go on a kitchen bench, because you know, you’ve always got that pile of bills or the pile of something somewhere. And they always do just like a random pile that happens. You’re just thinking, okay well, when we do design, we do have to think of that stuff. And that would make me so happy to have somewhere for all that stuff to go and not be in view. 

Yeah, so that’s why I love the kitchen. One, because we spend a lot of time there. And there was heaps of cool tips like that in there. 

Yeah, so that’s definitely where we celebrate life, is in our kitchen. So we really learned a lot from that. And I will keep going back and listening to it as we get closer to kind of thinking of it as a forever home versus a renovation.

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

Yeah, so they definitely save money, I know that for sure! And they probably, they definitely would be a lot happier living in their space because of it as well. I don’t think you’d find a place after doing the courses, where you’d be in your home where it just doesn’t feel right or I don’t know or, you know, this didn’t work or where are we going to put the couch? You know, we didn’t think about the couch coming out to here and how we’re going to walk through.

Because it’s broken down, because the course is broken down into really specific areas of the home, it’s really easy to digest. So it just makes sense from the beginning. Each module just makes sense from beginning to the end. 

And I think I mentioned that before, where you actually start creating, so even the times when I wasn’t writing notes or trying to draw something up, I was still building this room in my head while listening. And even then, it just makes it feel, it makes it feel real. 

So then, you know, another idea might pop up or Amelia might then add a story about a client … where it makes you think about things that you never would have even have thought about. And to consider things that you couldn’t have possibly considered unless you were living in that room.

Which is why I guess, I would definitely guarantee that by doing the courses, you’re going to be a lot happier in your home than not doing them. Because you do feel like you live in those spaces before they’re even built, if that makes sense.
The post Renovating an Old Terrace House | Undercover Architect Member Review appeared first on Undercover Architect.

3 Tips to Create a Sustainable Home

Want 3 tips to create a sustainable home? 

Sustainable design and construction can feel like a minefield at times, but doesn’t have to be. So here’s my tips.

Are you wanting to create a sustainable home that improves your health, and the health of the planet?

Having the goal to create a sustainable home can start out well. Lots of excitement about how your design and decisions are going to enable you to live in a home that supports your health and well-being, is lower cost to heat and cool, and takes care of the planet.

However, as many homeowners tell me, it can be a bit of a battle.

Sometimes that involves hunting and hunting for the right builder (because many will tell you it’s simply more expensive to create a sustainable home).

Sometimes it can feel like getting a university degree in sustainability, so you can dig through all the greenwash as you do your research.

And sometimes it can simply mean that you have to stick to your goals and your dreams, and keep pushing to get the right team, the right approach, and the right outcome.

Here’s my 3 tips to create a sustainable home.

#1 A sustainable home doesn’t have to be more expensive

Inside my ‘Happy Home Design’ mini-course, I share a series of videos with my six ‘S’ of sustainable design.

The first of these is Site – and getting your design to suit the unique conditions of your site, its orientation and it’s other natural assets – goes a LONG way to creating a sustainable outcome.

Doing this shouldn’t cost anymore than stuffing it up. Because you’re building the walls anyway. It’s simply about understanding how you’ll put those walls in the right place to suit the specifics of your site. (Season 1 of the podcast is perfect for this).

Beyond passive solar design itself, there are schemes and processes to help you navigate this even further, such as GreenSmart and others (Josh Byrne’s 10 star home in Perth is an example of a home that used this). This includes Passive House too (check out the podcast episodes on Passive House if you’re interested).

#2 You’ll need to work out your priorities

I’m yet to find a material or product that ticks ALL the sustainability boxes. (Because – and this may be cheeky – but if we’re really frank about sustainability and using less – we probably wouldn’t be building or renovating at all).

There are, however, a lot of ways you can make more sustainable choices when it comes to building and renovating. And so, if you can work out what’s important to you, what is aligned with your values, or your family’s needs, then you’ll have better clarity for the criteria to use, to assess your selections.

It may be that all materials need to improve the indoor air quality of your home, and be low tox. Perhaps you want to source local products only, and lower your carbon footprint. Maybe it’s that you want to ensure all materials can be recycled at their end of life (like Joost Bakker’s Fed Square project).

There are LOADS of metrics when it comes to sustainability. 

I discuss some of the terminology you’ll hear in this podcast episode, to help you understand it better. However, think about what you hold as your priorities, and it will help you navigate the journey more simply.

#3 You’ll most likely need to dig deeper than the rating systems

You only have to dive into the food industry and learn a bit about the “Heart tick” or the star rating on foods, to know that rating systems have their flaws.

The construction industry rating systems can have similar challenges. And so, it’s essential you interrogate the way that products have been rated and ranked, and understand the metrics being measured.

Having someone on your team who dives deep into this information all the time can be super helpful. 

It may be a sustainably focussed architect or interior designer, a specialist consultant, or a building biologist. This will vary based on your needs, your budget, and the help you need.

If you want to go it alone, be prepared to do a lot of digging and research, and ask lots of questions. It really is the only way to find out the truth of materials and products, and whether they’re what they seem.

Why isn’t it easier?

It can be.

However, accessing expert help can be critical in simplifying things for you. This may be through hiring a specific consultant for your project, or through researching via an up-to-date resource written by someone who is SUPER passionate about this work, and has done the legwork for you.

Kate Hamblet’s ‘Healthy Home Guide’ is great for US-based homeowners. Melissa Wittig’s ‘The Smart Living Handbook’ is a resource for Aussie-based homeowners. 

And there’s publications such as Sanctuary Magazine and the Renew website. 

Plus, you can visit homes during Sustainable House Open Day or International Passive House Open Day. There’s lots of resources and opportunities like this that can be incredibly helpful.

What’s really important, is to choose a team that’s aligned with your sustainability goals, because then you won’t have to fight for your choices and beliefs in your own project.

Many homeowners make the mistake of choosing a builder or designer who doesn’t prioritise sustainability, and then they’re having to convince them of why these considerations are important.

Architects Declare and Builders Declare can be a good place to find architects and builders making a public declaration of their commitment to sustainability.

And hubs like The Conscious Space and Planitree are gaining membership and momentum with likeminded businesses signing up.

Lastly, remember the power you have – it’s in your pocket $$

The more we demand to know where our products come from, how they’re made, what they’re like to live with, and what happens at their end of life – and make our spending decisions based on that information – the more the industry will change.

It will have to. Our dollar, and what we spend it on, can drive HUGE change.

Your home can create big change for you – and for all of us. I’m super excited about that – and I hope you are too.

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
The post 3 Tips to Create a Sustainable Home appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Renovating and repairing a coastal home | Undercover Architect Member Review

Linda was renovating a coastal home. With leaks and other issues, she wanted to ensure she could get it right.

Listen as Linda shares more about her renovating and repairing journey, how she was able to work better with her builder, and the help she’s been able to access through her membership in Undercover Architect’s online courses.

My name is Linda. I live in Kiama, New South Wales in Australia, which is a small coastal town, about two hours south of Sydney. I undertook some home renovations last year. 

Tell us a bit about your project

So I live in a relatively new house, so it was only five years old. But it had a significant issue with leaking from the upstairs, down into the main bit of the house. And because I live so close to the coast, it’s quite windy, the weather is quite wild. And when it rains, it rains quite heavily. So this was a really big problem.

So the renovation was about covering in the balcony to extend it to be part of the house. And because of the problems that I’d had with the leaking, I wanted to make sure it was absolutely watertight, and gale proof and all those sorts of things, because the weather is pretty wild, right here. But at the worst of it, I’d say look, I got 100mm outside and 40 litres inside. You know, just to help explain the context. 

What concerns did you have before you started?

So I had – you can appreciate because of my experience, I had thought I’d bought a new house, and therefore it would be solid. And you know, I wouldn’t have to worry about major repairs or even a renovation to be fair. And that whole experience made me incredibly nervous, because the builder that originally built the house denied any responsibility for the leak. And I had to go through Fair Trading, and I just felt I snookered every time.

And I just didn’t have confidence in many of the tradespeople or in myself, to ensure that that same thing didn’t happen again. That I’d get snowballed or, you know, somebody would … I just felt it’s stuff I don’t know enough about to feel confident.

And given the significant asset that a home is, you want to make sure you you know what you’re entering into, because if it comes unstuck, you’re unstuck in a very big way. Not just in terms of having insecure housing, but then you know, your finances, everything is tied up.

So I just needed that – I needed to feel more confident and knowledgeable about what I was entering into, because I’d had a series of unfortunate experiences leading up to that. So I wanted to start afresh.

Getting over that psychological barrier of being able to trust, again, because of what had happened, it’s it started with, well #1, I had to find a builder that I felt comfortable with. And I went through quite a process.

I must have interviewed about 20 or so different builders. And that was partly to do with once they heard that I’d had problems with the house originally, they were anxious about also being held liable. So people weren’t interested in that.

But also because the area where I live, there’s a lot, like it’s, there’s a lot of building going on. So builders were in high demand, so, it was really hard to find a good builder that was able to do the job because most of them had waiting lists for years.

Then came the contract negotiations. And I had some legal advice. And there are a couple of clauses where my solicitor was saying you really need to negotiate on this or that. And the builder was actually coming back saying “no, that’s unreasonable”, etc. But they were really basic causes like Liquidated Damages.

So there were a few things like that. And I thought, ‘Ah, here we go’. Anyway, so I was in a tizz about it. Because the builder and the architect were both sort of saying ‘you’re being unreasonable, you know, this is pretty common practice’ and all that sort of stuff.

And I, in my gut, I just, it didn’t feel right. And the solicitor was saying, “please don’t sign unless those particular clauses are in there”. And I just thought, I don’t know who to trust because my trust has been breached before. 

How did you first find Undercover Architect?

Anyway, I just was googling and I thought, how do you learn or how do you find out what’s a reasonable thing without paying hundreds of dollars an hour from another solicitor to find out.

Anyway, I just googled and found this Undercover Architect and I thought, “Oh, this sounds perfect”. And I listened to one of the free webinars. So I participated in one of those.

And I just liked Amelia’s no nonsense style. And she actually spoke to things that actually were real for me. Like she clearly knew what she was talking about. Or she understood the whole process and understood how you as a client can feel. So I think sometimes, when you hear other professionals talk about the building process, they’re talking about it from their perspective. But the way Amelia spoke, I thought she really understands. And I don’t feel so silly in being anxious about this contract issue, for example.

What made you decide to join Undercover Architect’s course?

And she gave that confidence and then I ultimately signed up for the Manage Your Build course (which is inside the HOME Method). And then I must have watched everything within about three or four days, like I just because I was in such a tizz, I just thought ‘Linda, you’ve got to get on top of this, you’ve got to get, you’ve got to feel confident’.

And I’ve believe I’ve got a brain in my head. And I felt like I needed to use it. And I just didn’t want to be snowed, I suppose, by somebody telling me you don’t know what you’re talking about little girl, forget about it. 

What did you enjoy most about the Undercover Architect course?

So anyway, it was really good to hear both Amelia and Duayne, the builder fellow that features and she also had a solicitor. And they just went through all the very things that I had not been sure about, or were struggling with, and spoke about them in a plain English way that I understood.

And I thought, ‘Okay, this is normal, it’s normal for there to be a little bit of tension about these things, you’re quite within your rights to ask for more clarity’.

And she had just really practical tips on, you know, even like templates for how to keep notes of the meetings that you have with the builder and with the architect, and what have you, to make sure there’s no room for misunderstanding.

Because I’d been made to feel, you know, I was being a bit neurotic, or, you know, overly anxious, but the way she spoke, it made me realise what I was talking about was quite reasonable. 

What were the benefits of the Undercover Architect course?

So that was the benefit of the course. And I did, it gave me the confidence to hold my ground.

And originally, when I gave the feedback back to the builder, and the the builder, and a little, to a lesser degree, the architect, I just said, ‘Actually, I’m going to walk away, like if you’re not going to agree to liquidated damages, and to a reasonable interest rate and all those sorts of things. Let’s hope we never have to utilise those clauses. But it’s important to me that they’re there’.

And so I walked away, and I said, ‘Look, I’m happy to find someone else. You know, I don’t have to do this. There’s there’s no urgency in it. I said, I can sit here with my buckets for as long as I don’t want to go ahead with something that I’m not confident of’.

So we both went our ways for a couple of weeks.

And then the builder actually got back to me. And he said, ‘Look, I’ve been thinking that I’ve been a bit pig-headed in a way, on principle, and what you’re saying is quite reasonable, and let’s do business’.

And, and in the end we did and it was a terrific build, I’ve got no hesitation recommending him. He did a wonderful job. I can’t tell you how much doing that Manage Your Build course just took my stress levels right down.

And I just thought, okay, I can do this. I felt confident to negotiate. So it was great. 

What have you done differently because of the Undercover Architect course?

And I think then the other thing was once the build was underway, well actually, just before the build commenced, I’d done that course. And then I realised there were things like the specifications around the windows and the insulation and stuff like that, that I hadn’t paid so much attention to I hadn’t realised the significance of those things.

But having done the course, I thought, oh, gee, I better triple check this.

And anyway, I did end up upgrading the windows and the insulation. And again, the initial thing was, Why do you need that? And I said, Well, you know, we get 120 kilometre an hour winds up here on a regular basis. And when it does rain, it’s hundreds of millilitres at a time. It’s not vertical, right? Like it’s, it’s wind and rain.

And I said, so if I’m going to spend all this money, I just want to make sure I’ve got the right insulation and the right, the type of thing.

And my house is also in a bushfire zone. So there’s certain glass that you need to have in that situation. So again, I, you know, listened very closely to the course around those sorts of things.

And in fact, I participated in a live Facebook session with Amelia and asked questions in that around the windows and the outdoor covering the Colorbond (we have regular Q & A sessions for members inside HOME Method). Because again, because I’m so close to the sea, there’s only there’s certain sort of Colorbond that you have to use that doesn’t wear as quickly as the normal.

So it was just those sorts of things that I would never have probably thought about, I wouldn’t have even known that you had to think about them. And no one drew them to my attention, until I did the course, are, yes, that’s, I need to focus on that. And, and I’ve got a good result. As I said, really thrilled.

Was it worthwhile doing the Undercover Architect course?

It was worth every penny, and every hour I spent on those webinars. Saving my sanity was a major benefit. Yeah, I think I just once I got over that hump, it just made it the whole thing doable.

And, you know, I had a constructive relationship with the builder and with the architect, as a consequence.

And I just felt confident, so it just saved – the fact that my anxiety levels dropped so much meant you could just get on with it and make it happen. And it did, it went like a dream.

And it’s still going strong. And you know, we had pretty wild winds last night, and the house is still here. So that’s all good. 

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

I just think you’ve got a responsibility to yourself.

If you’re going to invest so much, you know, like your house is usually your biggest asset, in financial terms, you owe it to yourself to be confident and knowledgeable about what it is exactly you’re entering into. Because it’s going, more often than not, it has a lifelong impact.

You know, even if you choose to sell, you know, some other poor sucker may inherit a problem.

And having been the recipient of some poor quality building, you don’t want to wish that on anybody else. So, you know, I suppose it’s just do yourself a favour, feel confident, and then you can actually enjoy the process.

It doesn’t have to be as stressful as what it might be otherwise, and there is no barrier to you understanding what’s going on. You don’t have to be blinded by building talk or architect talk or tradie talk. You know, it is possible to talk about it in plain English, and have a sensible conversation and get the outcome that you want.

So yeah, I just, I just think the money is minor, compared to how much you could easily waste just choosing the wrong thing.

I have been recommending the course to friends, anybody that is about to embark on this whole thing because I’ve come to learn that my experience is not unusual and that lots of people worry about it, but they seem to just focus on reading, you know, Home Beautiful magazines or whatever and get their their wisdom from there.

And it’s the detail that you really need to understand. It’s not the look so much, it’s the fine print and the legalities and just the technical specifications. It’s really hard to get that information from a neutral party. Having it broken down in the way that Amelia does, in a plain English way that an everyday person can understand … it was just, Oh, I can’t tell you how that helped me to just take a deep breath and have the confidence to progress.
The post Renovating and repairing a coastal home | Undercover Architect Member Review appeared first on Undercover Architect.

Do you need a designer’s drawings to build a home?

Do you need a designer’s drawings to build a home? 

Well, this builder told their homeowner they didn’t. And if the homeowner had believed them, they would have made a big mistake. 

Fortunately, they asked this question instead. Read more here.

When we first launched the mini-course, Happy Home Design, we had a fantastic live Q & A session.

I’m always blown away by the quality of questions I receive from the UA Community, and how you’re thinking about your project, the future home you’re creating, and the way you’re going to make that happen. It’s awesome.

I want to take a minute in this blog post, to talk about one of the questions I received during the Q & A.

Because, for me, it speaks VOLUMES about what can go wrong when building or renovating – but maybe not for the reasons you think.

This was the question:

“One of the builders I’ve spoken to has said that I shouldn’t need to spend a lot on designers’ plans and drawings as they are not used once the external walls are built. Is this true if the builder has experience in interior design?

Now, in the moment, when I first read that question out loud on the Q & A, my reaction was this: “Oh.My.Gosh” and I laughed.

I wasn’t laughing at the person asking the question. Not at all!

In fact – I was actually really shocked. 

Shocked that the builder even expressed that point of view so brazenly (and are running their business and projects that way).

I want to talk more about that in a minute, but first, let me share the answer to that question. It’s this:

Drawings matter. 

Good quality drawings are an asset in any project. 

When things are not drawn or described in your contract documentation, they are assumed in your contract.

And when something is assumed, it means it is subject to change and variation – which translates to money and time in your project.

Drawings are the most significant way to control outcomes on your project. Creating drawings for your home’s interiors (especially for your kitchen and bathroom areas) means:

You’ll bring forward your decision-making about those areas (rather than leaving it until during construction)You can achieve accurate pricing (pre-contract) based on what you actually wantLimiting the number of PC items and Provisional sumsWhich reduces the number of variations during the build

If instead, you do what this builder suggests, what will most likely happen is this:

You’ll get a contract sum that includes a large range of allowances (Provisional Sums and PC Items)During construction, the builder will send you to meet with suppliers and subcontractors to make selections and finalise the design on areas (tiling, kitchen joinery, lighting, etc)And then you can discover that what has been allowed does not match what you envisaged, and you’ll be charged a variation (with a higher margin) to have it included

The challenge with this scenario is:

The builder gets paid for the cost of the build regardless (including the variations)You may not get what you want because it’s not in your budget (because you started the contract with incorrect assumptions) or because you find out too late what you’re actually gettingConstruction is a more stressful experience due to having to make decisions under time and cost pressureEven if the builder is great at interior design, if it’s not drawn before you sign the contract, you have no way of knowing what you’re actually getting – or holding them accountable to itAnd your floor plans only say so much. For example, a wall hung vanity looks the same as a floor mounted one in a floor plan – but will require different construction, different plumbing and have a different cost.

However, what has really been mulling over in my mind since last night, however, is this:

What if this homeowner believed this builder? 

What if they didn’t ask me that question? 

What if they just trusted the builder was right, dived into their project, and then dealt with the consequences. 

What would have happened then??

So, thank you Daniel, for asking this question. And I thank you for forgiving me for laughing too – I was so worried I had offended you, but I was just so shocked a builder would actually say this!!

When you’re silent and not asking the questions, or being worried about looking silly about something you think you should know … 

That’s what enables the industry to get away with sub-standard project experiences, and sub-standard homes.

Many homeowners on the other side of a terrible situation have said to me “we were just too naive and trusting”.

So don’t be silent.

Keep asking questions until the people you’re working with have demonstrated the authority, expertise, and respect to earn your trust.

And to learn more about the drawings you do need for your new build or renovation project, I’ve got these resources:

What drawings do I need to build or renovate? >>> READ THIS BLOGHow to check your design drawings >>> PODCAST EPISODE 212How to check your construction drawings >>> PODCAST EPISODE 213

The Q & A session inside Happy Home Design is epic. If you’d like to jump into Happy Home Design, and access all the awesome info in there (including the recording of the Q & A session) you can do so here.

And 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
The post Do you need a designer’s drawings to build a home? appeared first on Undercover Architect.

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