Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Wishlist

One thing I'm so excited about is creating a home that has everything on my wishlist. This is my third home (well fourth really, if you count the one that was flooded)  but the first one I've built. I was thinking today about all the rooms and spaces I'm excited about so I thought I'd share them here with you.

Breakfast Bar

I've always imagined the breakfast bar to be the hub of the home. Serving up a casual breakfast to my son while I drink coffee and make lunches before school. Guests mingling around with glasses of wine while I prepare entrees during entertaining. Making after school snacks for Josh and his friends before they disappear downstairs. Even downloading with Graham while we clean up the dishes. I've never had a breakfast bar before and I'm so desperate to have one. The new design has a 2.6 metre benchtop, a very decent size.


We've never really had a proper study in our previous houses. We've had bedrooms that are used as a study, but I'd like a dedicated workspace with built in desks and storage for books and printing supplies. I do a lot of freelance work from home and with Josh in high school now he also needs a study space without distraction.

Guest Bedroom

A guest bedroom is on my indulgent wish list. Imagine, a dedicated guest room with room for your visitors to hang their clothes, a welcoming decorated room where you put a guest towels on the bed and guest soaps in the bathroom. We've only previously had a fold out bed in the third bedroom which also doubled as the study. The closets were full of our junk so when we had guests they just had to live out of their suitcase and hang their clothes over the back of chairs. I love the idea of a place that makes your guests actually feel welcome.

Walk in Wardrobe

I have a LOT of clothes and never enough space to hang them. I have to squeeze the coat hangers together and sometimes put two jackets or shirts on one hanger just to fit them in. The new house has an enormous walk in wardrobe. I'm already in love.

Teenagers Retreat

A teenagers retreat was never on my wishlist...until I had a teenager. Now I think a downstairs area where I can throw Josh and his friends should be at top of my list. I always thought that having a separate area for your children was such a non-family thing to do...until I had a teenager. Now I think it should probably have a door and soundproofing ;-P .

Music Room

While I was growing up I learned piano, violin and (heavens above!) the recorder. The piano was probably the least offensive, but the other two were probably just downright frightening. It wasn't so bad for us, as our block was quite large, but as this is a subdivided block, the neighbours will be quite close and I think for neighbourly relations a soundproof room is ideal. Josh plays the guitar and he and his friends have a band that includes the drums. I love that he loves music and want to encourage him as much as I can. I also miss playing the keyboard and my piano is currently in Townsville with my Mum. I would like to bring it down and as I'm a bit rusty, I think a soundproof room would be advantageous to the rest of the neighbourhood.

I can imagine all these spaces in my head, how they'll be decorated, all the times that we'll have in them, I can't wait! I just wish things would hurry up and happen faster.

Homes of the Past

There's no doubt that the new home I'm building is a contemporary design. This is the fourth house (if you count the flooded home) that I've owned and each one has been very different.

First Home

Our first home was in Doncaster East in Melbourne. It was a gorgeous clinker brink home with polished wooden floorboards and a fireplace. It had a beautiful front garden with a large maple tree and rose bushes. Josh was only a year old when we moved in and it was he used to play with me in the front garden. It was a lovely home, full of character and old world charm.

Second Home

We moved back to Brisbane in 2002 to be closer to family and bought a lovely replica Queenslander in Sherwood. Even though it was a replica, it had a lovely character feel inside with all the modern conveniences. It had a large back deck overlooking the garden and a small front deck we enjoyed breakfast on at the weekends. We lived there for 7 years and is the home Josh remembers the most about. It's also the first home for our dog Bella and when we first moved out, she dug her way out and ran away. She was found miles away after 4 days, halfway between the new house and the old house. We think she was trying to get back to the only place she'd known as home.

Third Home

My adorable third home is an original post war home. Everyone who visits said it was just one of those homes that had a happy feel about it. It was light and airy and beautifully renovated. There were lovely hardwood floors in a black japan finish and a back deck that overlooked a very large backyard. When the house flooded, the couple who owned the home during the 1974 floods came to visit to see if there was anything they could do to help. The husband, George, was the one who built the back deck and they were very emotional about the situation.  It's just one of those houses that incites emotion. I will miss it very much.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Like watching grass grow....

A development application to the Brisbane City Council is like watching the grass grow. It's probably not necessarily them, per say, just the combination of all the factors that makes things very, very slow.

At present it seems the sub division is all but approved, but they have an issue with the house. The uninhabitable level (yes, the part you're not supposed to live in) including the garage laundry and storage under the house is apparently too low. I hired an engineer and a town planner prior to submitting the application and they stand by their professional findings. So I'm at a bit of a standoff at the moment. Raising the house to what they require will be an additional $29,000 and won't fully mitigate any flooding, so it will really just be $29K wasted. Also, it will make the garage 1.6m off the natural ground level, so I will need a driveway on a 45 degree angle or a lift to get into it.

I have the team looking for another solution but we'll have to get moving quickly as the QLD Government Building Boost is due to expire on 30 April.

On a more positive note, I dropped around to the house today to see the state of the grass and decide whether we needed to mow it this weekend. We last did it about 3 weeks ago so considering all the rain and humidity we've had since then, it actually didn't look that bad. I'm so very happy too that my magnolias are looking fabulous. They went completely under in the flood and I'd only just planted them a couple of months before. There were 9 originally and I've only lost one, so I feel pretty lucky.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flooring - Over Engineered?

Spotted Gum

I love polished timber floors and I really want them in the new house. There's no compromise on this. Tiles have no character or depth or warmth. That character comes at a price though.

I love these spotted gum solid timber floors, but to have the builder lay them throughout the home would cost $28,000. Yep, you heard it.

One of the ways I can save some money is to lay the flooring myself after handover. Or rather, my partner can. (He doesn't know that yet). I've done a stack of research and concluded that engineered flooring would be the best option.

Engineered flooring has about 4mm veneer of solid timber over a base that you can click into place over a sub floor. Also known as floating floors.  At the moment I'm looking at Boral Silkwood and Readyflor. They retail for around $95/m2, but I've rung around and bargained it down to about $63/m2. I have about 195m2 to cover so that will cost $12,500 by the time you include underlay and delivery.

I'm also considering Blue Gum, which is the same cost, just a different look .

Sydney Blue Gum

What do you think? Maybe I should run a poll.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Neighbourhood Renovation

I guess if you're looking for a silver lining in the flood disaster, then there are some houses that are much better now than before the flood.

These is my neighbour's house during the flood. It was an old, unrenovated post war house that had been rented to the same lovely lady for the last 10 years.

I was talking to the owners the other day and by their own admission they hadn't carried out any renovations to the home in the 17 years since they'd owned it apart from minor repairs.

With the insurance, the house is now completely renovated inside and out, with a brand new driveway, garage and landscaping.

It's come up an absolute treat and it's the same story across the neighbourhood. It's not a flash suburb, but it's next to a blue ribbon suburb in the South West. I bought it mainly because it was close to the boom suburb (without the price tag) and they are also building a brand new Woolworths development down the road, with speciality stores such as cafes and bakeries and homewares boutiques. So I guess I was looking long term at its value. I had always intended to subdivide later, the flood has just fast tracked that.

So there is a silver lining to everything...if you look hard enough.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Front Elevation

This is the front elevation of the plan of the house. It has two gables and a front balcony off the master bedroom. As the house slopes towards the rear of the property, there are front stairs up to the portico.

I love this facade. I had the choice of a few but I really wanted one with a front balcony. Even though it faces a fairly main road, I still like the idea of sitting out there with a cup of coffee in the morning or reading a book out there on a day bed as the sun sets in the afternoon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest Board

I'm loving Pinterest, I've started a board for all my interior design inspirations. From seeing this I can say my style is modern vintage. I love all the mid century designers like Eames and the simple lines of Danish and Scandinavian furniture. I love neutral colours with splashes of stainless steel and red.

Sigh...that stage is a loooong way off yet!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Demolition - how I saved $12,000

House before the flood
I had to start sorting out demolition of the old house. It's actually makes me really sad as  I don't want to demolish the house. Even empty and gutted it still has character. I feel like I'm letting it down.

I try really hard not to be too emotional about it all. In reality, it's the same cost to repair the house back to what it was before the flood, which is low set and not flood proof as it is to knock it down and build new. Unbelievable as it seems, I've done the figures and renovations, particularly on an old home, are more expensive per square metre than building new.

My builder doesn't do demolitions but has a supplier that does demolitions for his clients for a flat $20K. That was way over my budget.

I put together a spreadsheet of every demolition company that serviced the Brisbane area and sent out a bulk email with all the following details:

Good morning,

I have a flood affected home that requires demolition and/salvage.  The details of the property are as follows:

- Low set timber post war property
- Structurally in good condition if to be moved
- Tiled roof
- Home approximately 85.0m2
- Floorboards are 60mm x 19mm tongue and groove hardwood floors in a black japan finish
- 1 x hardwood 850mm x 2040mm door with feature panel and obscure glass panel
- 1 x set of french doors
- 1 x set of doors with 8 glass panels
- Approximately 29 original casement windows
- Approximately 25.0m2 of asbestos lining to the rear deck
- Structure is on (approx) 48 x 200mm square concrete posts to be demolished (plan attached)

Photos are attached. If you are interested, could you please quote for the following as separate items:

(1) Demolition of dwelling and asbestos, clean up and removal of debris
(2) Salvage credit (if applicable)
(3) DA
(4) Sewer Cap Off
(5)Termination of Power

The property is located at .... Schedule at this point is for removal some time within the next month. 

Look forward to hearing from you.

I sent this out to 31 demolition companies and had prices ranging from $8500 ext GST to $18,000 ex GST. All were given the same brief so the range between the highest and lowest prices were quite extreme.

I contacted some of the companies and let them know the lowest written quote I had received. Astonishingly, some of them dropped their price to match without hesitating. Some of them as much as $4,000.

I wasn't just motivated by price, I also wanted to make sure that as much of the home as possible was recycled. The floorboards, possibly the windows and some of the weatherboards on the outside I think could be salvaged so I shortlisted the candidates based on how much they would salvage.

I can't make any decisions or appoint anyone until the final approval comes through, but based on this, a bit of time and research has saved me $12,000. I'm pretty happy with that.