February 15th, 2016 in

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Featured Renovators – The Stone Family

Today we are catching up with featured renovator Sam Stone. Sam and her husband Matt, daughter Olivia and son Declan are about to tackle a pretty major renovation in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Five Dock.

Sam has been writing about her experience so far over on her blog A Life On Venus, and as I write this they have had their plans finalised and are nervously waiting for their Development Application (DA) to be approved.

Like a lot of people Sam has never tackled a major renovation before, so it’s been great to follow along and see some of the road blocks and obstacles through the eyes of someone with little experience in the field of renovating.

I caught up with Sam to ask a few questions about her experience so far, and this is what she had to say.
 

When did you first get the idea that you wanted to renovate, and what gave you the inspiration to do so?

 
A lot of people in our street are renovating and then when our neighbours started renovating and we began to see the massive transformation in their place we decided it was time to make some changes to our place too.

We had also been watching a lot of home makeover shows on TV and saw that it was possible to renovate your home to achieve the space that you want.

 

What kind of research did you do before you decided to take the plunge on starting the process?

 
We googled around onto Interior Designer websites and Renovation websites to try to find out what could be achieved in the space we have available. We talked to friends who have renovated to get their ideas and experiences.

 

What part of the process have you enjoyed the most so far?

 
The most enjoyable part so far has been working with the architect. He had some really great ideas and some we would never have thought of ourselves.

 

What has been the most stressful?

 
Definitely the DA process, waiting and seeing if we will get approval and if not, what do we do!

 

Given that you are yet to start construction, what if anything are you the most nervous about?

 
I think the budget is the biggest thing we are nervous about at the moment. How much will it all cost, can we afford it and will we possibly totally blow the budget once construction starts.

 

I have enjoyed following Sam’s progress so far and I look forward to hearing about what lies ahead in their exciting renovation journey.

I will be checking in with the guys again from time to time, so watch this space and make sure you stay up to date by also following along. We wish Sam and her family all the best with their renovation and hope they have an enjoyable experience.

 

Have you renovated before? If so how did you find the experience? Leave me a comment below and share your story as we would love to hear about it.

Cheers,

James Mason

 


 

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January 24th, 2016 in

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What does it cost to renovate a Bathroom?

The cost to renovate an average size bathroom here in Australia is between $20,000 –  $25,000 dollars. Now that will vary up or down depending on the size of the room and the selection of finishes, but that allowance should cover most standard size bathrooms.

Below I will give you a real life example of what it costs to renovate or remodel a bathroom by listing out the actual costs of our own bathroom renovation.
 

Example – Our Ground Floor Bathroom Renovation.

 
A quick back story – We renovated this bathroom back in 2011 when we first purchased our property, and combined these works as part of our initial freshen up of the existing dwelling before we actually moved in after the purchase. This renovation was done before we started our major renovation back in 2014 on the “Small Space Big Build Project”.

While rates and costs will change over time the below will give you an appreciation of the breakdown of all the costs that can be associated with a bathroom renovation.

Below is a photo of the bathroom before we started work.
 
Photo of an old bathroom in original condition

 

Bathroom Renovation Costs – Ground Floor

 
Demolition – Rubbish removal cost – Skip Bin (note – no labour costs as we did this ourselves)  $650.

Plumbing – Run new services including relocating drainage and sewer in the concrete slab, cost also includes the fit off of all new fittings upon completion. $3177.

Electrical – New wiring to services such as heat lamp, exhaust fan, heated towel rail, floor heating and LED strip lights. Cost also includes fitting all of the above items upon completion $1460.

Carpentry – Build wall frames for concealed plumbing, fit toilet roll holders, robe hooks, hang door and fit new lock $1,120  

Plasterer – Sheet new wall frame and patch the existing ceiling $720

Waterproofing – New membrane to floor and walls (2 coats) $600

Tiling – Full height wall (3.1 meters) and floor tiling in subway tiles (brick pattern) $2,200.

Painting – Ceiling, window and door Inc frame $940 

Cabinetry – Custom made mirrored shaving cabinet, Inc installation $1,850.

Shower screen – Frameless glass unit, Inc installation $1,400.
 

Materials supplied for the project

 
Plumbing fittings – Wall hung toilet, taps, basin, 2* shower roses, heated towel rail, under floor heating $3,488

Tile supply – Wall and floor $1,575 (my wife has expensive taste…)

Light fittings – IXL heat lamp / fan and LED strip lighting $650

Door and handle – $240

Miscellaneousness building materials – Bagged concrete, timber framing, tile angles, cornice, nails bolts and screws etc $680

 

OUR TOTAL BATHROOM COST $ 20,750

 

Bathroom progress photos

 

Now if we were to factor in what you would pay a builder or bathroom renovation company to take care of this for you, you need to factor in their profit margin.

NOTE – Most builders will apply a margin of between 20% – 30% on top of their contractors and material cost totals to cover their overheads of running the project and their profit. So with the above example 30% on $20,750 = $6,225 Therefore the total would be closer to $26,975.

With all of the above costs laid out, you need to factor in that I am a builder myself and I have good relationships with my trades and suppliers which mean I also get good pricing as well as being very hands on.
 

In my professional opinion most people would be looking at closer to $30,000 to get the same result as what we have above.

 
So with the above said do you need a builder to help manage your bathroom renovation? No you don’t, but it will come down to how much time and effort you are willing to put into managing the entire process from start to finish including time on site to trouble shoot and problem solve if needed.

I wrote a little more in detail about some of the essential steps over on the Our Build Blog last year, check this out as well to get some more ideas.

Lastly if you are looking to tackle your own bathroom renovation I will have a video course coming out later in the year to help show all of the essential steps and processes along they way, sign up today if you are interested in knowing more and i will let you know when it is available.

Best wishes, James Mason.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN THIS BLOG POST: Cost of Bathroom Remodel: 3 Moneymaking Reasons to Upgrade

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

GET INSTANT ACCESS TODAY

Yes, I Want to Know More!

July 18th, 2015 in

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The importance of having plans or sketches for your project.

Plans: You have an idea, now it’s time to get it on paper. Do I draw something myself, or engage a draftsman/architect/builder/building consultant?

First things first: no matter how big or small your project, you must have a plan set down on paper!

I can almost hear some of you saying “But I’m only doing some small internal modifications/renovating a bathroom/removing a doorway, why would I need plans?”

The answer is: You must if you plan on having a successful building experience. The more planning you do up-front, including getting your ideas on paper, the easier your life will be.

Plus I GUARANTEE that you will save yourself money by being organised. Subcontractors, tradesman, and suppliers will want to work with you if you are organised. If you’re not, you will quite literally pay the price.

Unfortunately, if the people you are looking to work with on your project get the slightest hint that you are unorganised, they will factor this into their pricing to compensate for the extra running around and organising that they will need to do. Which takes us right back to the original question I first posed:Can I save 30% on the building cost by becoming an owner-builder?

Don’t freak out!

You don’t have to spend thousands if you are only doing small jobs; sometimes a simple sketch that can be replicated and distributed is enough to get you started.Plus there are various programs I use that can help you with drafting. I will touch on those later.

On the flip side, if you are doing major work, you should be expecting to spend thousands and even tens of thousands depending on the scale of the project and the detail involved.

So we come back to the original question: Do I draw something myself, or engage a draftsman/an architect/a builder/building consultant?
 

Drawing or sketching something yourself

 
I would only recommend this if the work is minor and does not require approval by the council, or the relevant authorities, and you have the idea and confidence to write down exactly what you want to do. To best determine if approval is required, you should contact your local council and ask to speak with a duty planner to discuss the work you are proposing to do. They will have guidelines and information you can use to assess this. Most professionals, including builders, building consultants, draftsman, and architects, should be able to point you in the right direction, but I always recommend doing your own research as well.

You can research online through this link (NSW): http://hub.planning.nsw.gov.au/BuildingorRenovating/DoIneedapproval.aspx

Generally speaking, projects that would not require approval are non-structural internal modifications that are classed as :making good an original item or internal area of your property.” For example: a new internal coat of paint and lining, some bathroom refurbishments, kitchen replacements, new furnishings such as doors, handles, skirting, architraves, cornices, carpets and floor boards.

NOTE: some dwellings may be heritage sites, and even replacing or removing internal fixtures may require council approval. I recommend you do your homework if you think you fall into this category.

Now if you do want to have a crack at getting your own ideas onto a plan, I recommend trying  Edrawsoft which in an online programme that has some great packages and tutorials for beginners, they have a FREE TRIAL that can be downloaded to play with, and if you want to purchase the program its around $149. Its a pretty simple drop and drag style of program, so once you watch a few tutorials and draw your first few plans it will be pretty straight forward.

If you feel that a hand-drawn sketch with notes and instructions will suffice for your basic project, then that’s fine also, as long as you can save, copy, and distribute your plan and instructions to your various contractors and suppliers so that they have a formal document that can be referenced when you enter into a contract with them. I would also recommend having the various people you hire sign a copy of your plan along with a contract, but we can touch more on this when we get to the CONTRACTS section of the site. For now we will stick to getting your plans onto paper.

 

Engaging a draftsman, architect, builder, or building consultant

 
To start with, let’s break the different options down and discuss the differences between them. The broad definitions of each are as follows:
 

  • A draftsman (or draftsperson) is someone who makes detailed technical plans or drawings.
  • An architect is a person trained and licensed to plan, design, and oversee the construction of buildings. Practising architecture means providing services relating to the design and construction of buildings, as well as the spaces surrounding the building that are principally used for human occupancy.
  • A builder is a person who constructs something by putting parts or materials together over a period of time. His job is to plan, supervise, build, coordinate, repair, and warrant all works performed to clients.
  • A building consultant can be a builder, an architect, surveyor, engineer, project manager, or interior designer, among others. The job of a building consultant is to give advice or to undertake tasks that are related to the building industry, including the design and supervision of various building components.

 
The above are broad descriptions of each title, and every one of them may actually have differing skills and accreditation’s depending on each individual’s qualifications and business structures. When looking to engage any of the above, you need to consider a few of the following: the size of your project, your budget, and your knowledge of the building process.
 

Plans and sketches for a renovation

 

A few examples

 
If you have a healthy budget and are looking to build your dream home, then an architect would be my recommendation. Keep in mind that depending on how much of the project you want them to manage (from the small stuff, like producing the drawings and documents, to the larger, like managing the entire process from concept to completion) you could be looking at anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 for the construction of a new home.

For an average residential renovation project that costs around $500,000, if you were to engage an architect to take your plans from concept stage through to construction-certification stage (meaning: ready to being onsite with all approvals), you could be looking at an average of about $30,000–40,000, and that’s usually excluding any external consultant fees, such as surveyors, engineers, and council fees.

NOTE: I will discuss the COUNCIL APPROVAL STAGES later on this site so that you can get an understanding of what’s involved and some of the various fees you can expect to pay. Some architects also work on a percentage of the overall estimated building cost.

For the same example above, if you were to use one of the other options like a draftsman, builder, or building consultant, you could save yourself some money because their average prices range from $10,000–25,000 for a similar service, with a draftsman being the most economical through to building consultants being the most expensive. If you know a little about building and the various steps along the way, or are prepared to study and do your homework regarding the approval’s process, you will be able to save yourself some money by managing some of the various stages and steps yourself.

There are also other factors that need to be taken into account when costs for drafting and architectural services are calculated, and a big one is the specifications and selection of finishes. We will touch on the SELECTION’S PROCESS in the next topic, but the degree to which you need your chosen professional to assist you will also be a factor in the cost of their offered services.

The above examples on plan-drafting and associated costs are based on my experiences only,so the costs for these services will vary from state to state and, of course, country. I suggest doing your homework and contacting a few of each type of professional that I have listed above to get an idea of the costs and services they offer before deciding which is the right fit for you.

There are also sites that offer off-the-shelf plans, such as www.houseplans.com and www.dreamhomesource.com. Both are American websites,but there are various Australian sites as well. I would only look at using these services to get ideas if you’re building a new home, and even then I would engage someone in your local area to tailor the plans to your specific ideas. That way they can assist you in drafting full construction drawings, which are more detailed and costly than just concept plans.

No matter which path you chose to go down with your plans, expect there to be a few revisions once you figure out your initial concept, as it’s rare that you will nail it the first time around.
 

Budgeting

 
Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration when drafting your plans is your budget. You must design something around what you are willing or able to spend. I recommend having an estimate performed on the concepts before your plans are finalized so that you will know if it’s within your budget. The ESTIMATESTAGE is really a three stage process: Stage 1 is the initial ballpark estimates based on your concepts, Stage 2 is the firming up of the estimate once selections have been made, and Stage 3 is putting the final design, along with your selections, out to the marketplace for tender. (not sure what you mean by tender…are you talking about money?)

I will go into the estimation process in more detail a little later on the site, but it needs to be touched on here as it forms a critical step in the plan-drafting process. This step, along with the selection’s process, will be required to help finalize your design and all that it encompasses prior to starting onsite. Remember that the more planning, homework, and research you do upfront in the pre-commencement stage, the better building experience you will have.

Okay, its time to move onto the next topic because it ties in closely and is a critical stage in getting your plans and specifications finalized:

Selection’s process: What is it and do I need an interior designer?

Until next time, Happy Renovating!

James Mason.

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

GET INSTANT ACCESS TODAY

Yes, I Want to Know More!