reality tv

The difference between reality TV and reality

Today, straight from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious, a former contestant from The Block explained how renovating on TV isn’t quite the same as renovating your own home in real life. Shut the front door! Really? You can read that story here and this is what I wrote on the topic a little while back.

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.

What makes a good apprentice?

The building trade is one that’s based on the concept of apprenticeships and it’s a concept we fully support, having had numerous apprentices work with us over the past 20 years. Most apprentices come to us straight out of school but you can also join a trade as a mature-age student, which is what JD did. Sitting in a classroom full of 18 year olds was a bit of a shock to him after 10+ years in the corporate world!

 

building

Why isn’t the builder here yet?

At the start of the year, there are lots of customers who are keen to get started on their building job – but it’s not quite as easy as pressing the big green go button. Here at Builderette HQ we hear a lot of site stories from JD (before, during and after projects that he’s been working on). Many of the before stories centre around customers wondering why his crew can’t start straight away or at the very least give a firm date on when they’ll begin the job.

 

Kim & Kanye #justlikeus

Honestly, when you think about it, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are just like totally normal people – going over time and over budget on a renovation. Just like us, they had to live with the in-laws for a while while work was happening (hi Kris!). And when that got too much (renovation timeline not going as planned) they moved into interim accommodation while work was still happening. I guess things got a little crowded at Kris’s place. And to top it all off, there were suggestions that Kanye’s VPB (very public breakdown) was caused in part by the stress of the renovation. Man, I hear you! Those things can be stressful!

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.

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: 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.