garden-buildings

Outdoor structures to take your garden to the next level

It’s hard to imagine that only a generation or two ago the typical Australian backyard featured not much more than a lemon tree, a vast expanse of grass and a Hills Hoist in the centre – usually at the end a concrete path coming directly from the laundry. It was unlikely to be accessible directly from the home’s living areas, but was handy for backyard cricket matches.

Oh, how times have changed. Our backyards are now an integral part of the family home and as well as containing swimming pools and landscaping, they are often rooms in their own right with outdoor kitchens and living rooms becoming ever more popular as homeowners look to get the most out of their space and Australia’s generally cooperative weather.

doing-it-greek-style

Keeping it simple on Santorini

 

Recently some members of the 5to50 team enjoyed an offsite conference (ahem, much-delayed honeymoon) in Greece. There was sun, sand, warm water and plenty of tzatziki of course, but we also loved looking at the Greek building methods – especially on Santorini. Residential construction in Greece seems to be fairly simple – it’s formed up, concrete is poured and, in Santorini at least, the roof is quite often concrete as well. Inside, the walls are rendered but there’s no lining or gyprock and in general, all the floors are tiled. The walls are lovely and thick which gives the buildings great thermal mass (it gets mighty hot on those idyllic islands) and external shutters are also part of the design to stop the summer heat from getting in through the windows.

project home

Why does a project home cost the same as a renovation?

If you’ve progressed any way at all down the renovation path, you would have discovered pretty quickly that it’s fairly easy to get to $250,000 without trying too hard. That kind of money will get you a ground-floor extension, but it might not cover re-doing your ensuite as well. Which is hard to understand when you flick through the Sunday papers and see page after page of project home after project home being offered for $250,000. That’s a four-bedroom, two-bathroom family home for the same price as a large living room and a kitchen reno. Whaaaaat?

 

Safety first

Safety first: more than a catchy cliche

Crawling around under a house is not many people’s idea of a good time (once you’re over the age of 10, that is), but if you’re a builder, it’s just part of the job. It’s generally pretty dirty but otherwise relatively uneventful. Last week, however, on one of the 5to50 job sites, the crew came across a large funnelweb spider. While we do love working with a diverse range of customers, funnelweb spiders are not the top of the list and this unexpected interaction prompted a spider-specific Toolbox Talk. All the 5to50 carpenters carry First Aid kits but it’s also important to know where the nearest local hospital is and how you’re going to get there if required.

scope of works

Is your scope of works in your finger?

I have pretty awesome fingers. They’re long, a bit calloused and I use them on a regular basis to do all sorts of things like cook, sew, pat the cat and type. One thing my fingers cannot do however, is house an entire scope of works (can’t play piano either but that’s a story for another time). As a builder who visits the homes of many, many people wishing to start a building project or renovation, JD meets an awful lot of people who, rather than writing down what they would like to achieve, choose to point at things with their fingers. This is not a great way to start, or manage, a building job.

strata

How to take the stress out of a strata project

 

When I lived in an apartment building, I like to think that I was pretty much the ideal owner (why not give myself some snaps!) – I paid my strata fees on time, parked where I was supposed to, didn’t play loud music and generally kept to myself. When the time came to revamp our lobby, I looked at the plans, thanked the people involved for putting in the effort, pointed to the one I liked and pretty much left them to it. Getting highly involved in strata building work is not how I roll.

renovate for the life you live

Renovate for the life you live

Houzz recently ran a listicle about avoiding design mistakes. It was a bunch of great suggestions on every aspect of design and renovation from Houzz readers and contributors and I especially liked this one: “Never renovate aspirationally. If your family isn’t crowded around the kitchen table now playing games, they won’t suddenly do it (more than once) in a new game room. If you don’t have company now in your ‘humble home,’ odds are you won’t suddenly have friends who want to visit your fancier one. You will be just as much of a slob in a nice space as in your current one. Renovations change little that is wrong with us or our relationships.”

rubbish removal

The unexpected romance of rubbish removal

Not long after JD and I started seeing each other, he told me had something special planned for a Saturday morning. He’s not one for hugely romantic gestures so I was excited by the thought of breakfast at a new cafe or perhaps a morning massage followed by lunch by th eocean? No chance. He told me to put on my Blunnies and hop in the 3-tonne tipper – we were off to the tip!

reality tv

The difference between reality TV and reality

Back in the olden days before we met and life turned into non-stop unicorn meat with sparkle gravy for dinner, JD was involved in a reality TV renovation show. He’d originally been asked to audition for the host role (think Scott Cam) but they decided to go with someone younger (think Jamie Durie in his Backyard Blitz days). However, he got a call a couple of months later when the producers realised that they needed someone who could actually, you know, build. So, he grabbed his tool belt and headed for the bright lights of television as the site supervisor. What he found there did not leave him overly impressed.

tasmania

What it takes to build an award-winning home

A couple of years ago my father and his wife sold their stunning property in a little town in Tasmania, and moved into a hay shed on 40ha of land they’d bought just down the road. Their plan was to build their dream home and maybe a little guest house. Collectively, the family thought they were nuts with a capital N, given that they were in their late 60s and already lived in a house that had been included in Vogue Living’s Top 20 country houses not too long ago.