Thursday 3 July 2014

Patience & Planning...

...sometimes it pays to hesitate when you renovate.

Well we are pretty much settled in the new house now, what I like to call our fab little 'cabin by the sea', and to say that we have now enjoyed a couple of weekends off with no house moving packing and unpacking is an understatement to say the least. We've even managed to get down to the beach and do some beach combing with the girls, letting them explore for shells and driftwood, while Red gets some exercise on the sand. It truly has been nice to unwind, after all...
Anyway, the benefit of being able to relax is having the time to think, but that also means having the patience not to jump right in and start doing things that desperately need to be done. Why? Because sometimes you might just need to undo the good work you've done, to get to or fix another job that needs doing. Case in point; while I'd love to get a new boundary fence up and landscape down the 'services' side of the house, there would be no point in doing so now when in the next six months I plan on building a new shed in the dead area at the rear of the block. By the time contractors would have been back and forth to get a slab poured and a shed erected, any good work down the side of the house would have been undone or damaged - hence the reason for waiting.
The shed I'm thinking of putting in is the same one that is behind the Grady display home at North Shore... it will take this unused space here...

And put it to better use like this...
And why would building a shed be a high priority? Well that's because our plan is to build-in the front double garage, converting that space into a master suite incorporating study, bedroom, walk-in robe and ensuite (master bath for all our North American friends). That means building a shed to store all those things that normally live in the garage like the lawnmower, gardening tools, xmas decorations etc - the list goes on. And if we're building-in the garage, then that means building a new carport out front of the house to provide shade for the car, which hopefully will also help to screen out the afternoon western sun from the front living room. So its easy to see how quickly one job can lead to another, and why sometimes you need to think backwards, when thinking about the overall end goal that it is you want to achieve.
That's why with this renovation we are going to develop a master plan up front, that will incorporate all aspects of this project, from exterior building, to interior fit out, to landscaping and pool refurbishment, just to name a few. By having a master plan we will know all the tasks that need doing, we can synchronise them across different trades as work progresses, and we can tackle different aspects at different times. And because this renovation will be more complicated than the last one, with more structural changes and additions required, we will be engaging a qualified builder up front who will help us with the design and approvals process. This will ensure that the ideas we have for the design are laid down in written plans that comply with building codes and council regulations. And of course we'll have the proper types of written plans, for both building and landscaping, because in some projects a picture is worth a thousand words. I like seeing detailed plans upfront (like the one below which I found online) as this is the level of detail I would like to see before we commence this renovation proper.
Much of the initial research for this has already been started by Kate, who has been discussing with different trades and suppliers, a lot of the underlying principles and features we wish to incorporate into our renovation design. This really helps to speed up the design process, as when we are talking with building and design professionals, Kate has already researched and understands a lot of the subject matter being discussed. This is important for us as she is project managing the build overall, like she did with the bathroom renovation that is already complete, but more on that in a later post!
A big part of this for Kate has been looking at energy efficient solutions, which is important to us as we want our deign to incorporate as many energy efficient ideas as possible, given this house is going to be our home for the next 12 - 15 years. Some of these key ideas include the following:
Maximising the layout of the home and the types of windows and doors to take advantage of the prevailing sea breezes, as the following solar diagram for the Innovation House at Sanctum illustrates.
(Source: Hard Copy from the Innovation House)
 Replacing the original (how is it even still running) hot water system with a new energy efficient hot water system (either solar tubes, heat exchange or high star rated electric).
Replacing our old (on their last legs) top loader washing machine and small tumble dryer with new appliances which have high star ratings for energy and water conservation.
Redesign the kitchen storage layout within the existing footprint to maximize efficiency and reduce food preparation and cooking times (we'll write a future blog post about this when we come to the kitchen renovation).
Other energy efficient and water wise ideas include the following:
  • Installing new energy and water efficient appliances in the kitchen.
  • Maximising the use of LED lighting and bulbs throughout to replace existing hodge-podge of incandescent lighting.
  • Paint the roof white to reduce roof cavity temperature, which in turn will reduce overall internal house temperature.
  • Maxmise use of garden plants that are suited to tropical coastal conditions and which don't require intensive watering.
  • Reduce the overall lawn footprint and improve the underground irrigation system and watering schedule to minimize water consumption.
  • Replace the existing pool pump with an energy efficient EcoPump and running it on an off peak electricity tariff.
That's just some of the ideas we plan to incorporate into our overall design for our renovation. In the not too distant future we will be meeting on site with the builder we are hoping to use, who will help us to incorporate all of these ideas into our master plan, obtain the necessary building approvals, and link us in with his own tradesmen to turn our plans on paper into our dream home. You can probably tell from recent posts who this well respected local builder is.
And as always we will be documenting this process in our little ol' blog; let's just say it will be like a really lengthy episode of Grand Designs, just without the excessive and expensive building 'bling' and hopefully without too many construction dramas! We hope you enjoy the ride :-)
Cheers, Col

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