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?

 

renovation

How to get ready for your renovation

It’s pretty exciting when you first start thinking about doing a renovation or decent-sized project around the house. You start tearing pages out of magazines (yes, I’m that old) or adding to Pinterest along with taking pictures of cool tiles you spot in cafés around town. However, getting from Pinterest to a new family room and kitchen is a long journey and there are a couple of things you can do right at the start to make life a little easier and give you a better chance of getting the result you’re looking for.

renovate for profit

5 things I learned from my favourite TV renovator

Do you love property developer Sarah Beeney’s show Property Ladder? I do! Each week Sarah visits people who are determined to renovate for profit and equally determined to ignore any and all advice that Sarah (a successful, professional developer) has to give them. It’s one of those shows that literally has me howling at the TV! I’m not sure if it’s still being made but there are always re-runs on Foxtel. Ask me how I know!

 

Over many years of, ahem, research, here’s what I’ve learned about how to renovate for profit from Sarah Beeney.

 

dream design

When a dream design becomes a real-life nightmare

 

Let me tell you a story. It’s a cautionary tale and one you should pay attention to if you’re thinking about a renovation. Especially a big renovation. 

 

Once upon a time, we were watching Grand Designs (well, just the other night) when we suddenly realised the featured house was currently for sale, in fact, my sister had pointed it out to me a couple of months ago. You see, in addition to cooking, sewing and reading my other hobby is looking at real estate – usually in Hobart, where we have vague dreams of retiring one day. One of my sisters lives down there and she occasionally flicks me houses I might be interested in. This one was listed at $5million plus, putting it not only in “total fantasy” territory for us but also at the top of the range for Tasmanian real estate in general.

builders quotes

What's the story with builders' quotes?

Congratulations – you’ve decided to renovate! If it’s a decent-size job you’ll have plans drawn up, your DA approved and you’ll probably be getting a couple of builders quotes. Ideally, these will be builders that friends or colleagues or maybe your designer has recommended. As you’re navigating your way through this strange new world you’ll be coming across lots of new words and phrases that you may not of used before. Two that you’ll definitely be hearing are “fixed price” and “cost plus” and they’re to do with how the builder charges for his work.

 

So, what’s the difference?

builders

Why don't builders like architects?

Do you know about Amelia the Undercover Architect? She’s a totally fab woman who offers really down to earth and very practical design advice – she won my heart the first time I came across her when she wrote a story for Reno Addict about why you shouldn’t use an architect. Coming from an architect this was powerful stuff! She ruffled a few feathers but I thought it was a great piece.

 

5 things I learned at architecture school and 1 big thing I didn’t

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be an architect. As a teenager I spent hours designing houses, drawing plans on graph paper and dreaming about the practice I would have one day (I also thought I’d be married by the age of 25!).

 

There is something so magical about well-designed spaces – I’m talking the bones of a place here, not the dressing that comes afterwards – and I wanted to be a part of that. Unfortunately, life didn’t turn out that way but here are 5 really awesome things I learned while I was studying for my architecture degree.