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.

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