March 27th, 2016 in

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Featured Renovator – Becky Marshall from “Flipping The Flip”.

Today we are catching up with featured renovator Becky Marshall. Becky shares her renovation and home improvement adventures over on her blog Flipping the Flip.

I have been following Becky’s adventures for a while now, and apart from being jealous about how often she posts her blogs (something I suck at), I also admire her give it a go attitude.

Becky has tackled all kinds of projects herself such as kitchen modifications, painting projects, electrical modifications, shelving, pocket door installations and much, much more (some pic’s below). If you need some DIY inspiration I suggest checking out Becky’s blog.

I thought I would ask Becky a few questions about her renovation journey so that she can share her story with us.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your renovation project “Flipping the Flip”.

 
Long story short, my first career was theatre in Chicago for many many years as a prop master and scenic designer. Eventually I went back to graduate school and earned an M.F.A. in Interior Architecture. Recently I’ve been working in the television and film industry as a set designer which has included stints at Chicago Fire, Sirens, Jupiter Ascending, and most recently a pilot episode, The Exorcist.

Flipping the Flip came about as an upshot of my various careers making and designing things melding with the latest target of my attention, the house my husband and I bought from a flipper.  That flipper, it turns out, made many a questionable choice and his workmanship left a lot to be desired. The stories of all the work I was doing began piling up in my head so I decided to start a blog with the hope that others could learn from my adventures.
 
Finn inspecting the renovations.

 

How long have you been renovating your house, and was it always your plan to make the modifications to it?

 
We bought this house in June 2013 and the pace of working on it, the list of projects, has ramped up over time. We had always planned to remove some trim and repaint every room. Things mushroomed after we moved in and discovered all the things the house flipper had done, or didn’t do, or should have done. Some of his decorating choices and “fixes” were so bad no human should be subjected to them so it became my mission to undo, fix, and improve just about everything he had done.
 
A photo of Becky's renovated dining room

 

What inspired you to get on the tools and have a go at tackling some of your own projects around the house?

 
I’ve always been a handy person, a designer type, and a power tool lover so it was a natural progression. It began with the repainting initially, getting up close and personal with the house, seeing all that was done or not done. As I was painting I’d think, well, I best fix that while I’m here. Things rapidly eroded from a “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if…,” to becoming a “I bet I could do that if I tried…” thing. Part of it stems from the desire to be self-sufficient, to learn things and be able to take care of them myself, and part of it comes from the desire to be budget-minded with such a lengthy list.

Becky's renovated kitchen splash back with tiles and grout.

 

If you had to pick one thing in relation to your renovation that you are proud of what would that be?

 
Boy, that’s tough. As I move from project to project and I see things taking shape around the house, it’s hard to pick just one. I don’t mean to sound boastful; in a simple comparison of the house as-bought to how things are to date, the difference is definite and vast. If pressed though, my latest one, a pocket door to our master bathroom, is the biggest project I have ever undertaken and probably the one I’m most proud of lately.
 
Becky's custom install of a pocket door.

 

Have you found any of your remodelling tasks stressful, if so how do you go about problem-solving some of these tasks?

 
Oh my gosh yes. Yes! I tend to un-smartly plow head-first into projects, so I need to first slow myself down. If it’s larger like painting our kitchen cabinets or installing wallpaper or the pocket door, I take time to plan and write out all the steps, how I want to accomplish each task, and how I want the end result to be before even lifting a finger. I find that helps keep the stress tamped as I’m then able to take the project one single step at a time, one small goal at a time thereby feeling less overwhelmed. In the case of the pocket door, I ended up taking several days to plan, prep, do math, write down every single step in order, even draw it out on the computer. That was my most stressful project to date and I found I needed to really parse it down to finest detail.
 
Pantry Pallet Wood Floor Project

 

If there was one piece of advice that you could give someone about to start on their own DIY renovation journey what would that be?

 
Don’t be afraid. Ok, be a little afraid as that’s a healthy reminder to be careful and take your time but do not be afraid to try something. Be smart and know your limits but fear of trying something new is squashed by the rush of accomplishment. The worst that can happen is you make a mistake but I think mistakes are not mistakes; they are a golden opportunity to learn and try again.
 
A Photo of Becky's library renovation

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us Becky, and we look forward to following along with the rest of your DIY renovation journey as it unfolds.

Are you hands on like Becky when it comes to getting things done? If so tell us about it in the comments section below, we would love to hear about it.

Thanks Guys, take care.

Cheers,

James Mason

 


 

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

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February 12th, 2016 in

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What Does It Cost To Renovate A House?

According to industry data the average cost to renovate a house is between $2,000 to $2,500 per square meter here in Australia, BUT…. In my own experience renovating custom projects that number is closer to between $2,500 to $4,000.

How do I get to this number? Well I have taken all the financial data from every house I have renovated over the last 15 years and the average from all of my projects is closer to $3,000.

That takes into consideration that most of my renovations were custom designs by architects and usually involved putting a second story on a single story home and fully refurbishing the existing dwelling.

Now is calculating the cost per square meter the best way to estimate what your renovation project will cost you? In my opinion the answer is NO!

Every project is different and has its own unique cost factors such as:
 

  • Access to the property, is it easy or hard to get materials and trucks into?
  • Is the renovation just a square box added to the back of the house, or an architectural masterpiece?
  • Are there any specialised building materials being used?
  • Are the finishes high end or budget?
  • Will major structural modifications be made to the existing house?

 
The above are just a handful of questions that you need to ask yourself before you take the cookie cutter approach of adding a cost per square meter to your design. There are other factors that I discussed in my blog on how long does it take to renovate a house that also come into play.

You can get project home builders that pump out the same design over and over for as low as $1,500 per meter square, but if you are on this site you are most probably not looking for that option.

In my opinion the best way to get an accurate figure or even a ball park cost before starting your design is to talk to speak with two to three professionals (I.e. Architects or Builders) about what you are proposing to do and take the averages of the estimates to get a starting point.

If you proceed to the next stage of getting your concept plans drawn, this will be enough for you to get tenders on before you move onto the final design, and give you room to scale up or down depending on the estimated costs.

Have you recently been given a square meter price to renovate your home? If so tell us about your experience in the comments section below to start the conversation.

Cheers,

James Mason

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN THIS BLOG POST: How to Renovate a Bathroom: 5 Stage Process
 


 

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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.

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October 28th, 2015 in

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How long does it take to renovate a house?

The average home renovation takes between 4 to 8 months, there are exceptions to this rule with some projects being minor or major in size, but most home renovations will fall somewhere within this timeline.

If you are fully renovating or remodelling your house chances are it could take up to 6- 8 months or even more if you are adding large spaces with architectural detail, but if you’re just doing a kitchen and bathroom with some minor cosmetic changes then it could be a just matter of weeks or months.

My general rule of thumb that I have discussed before on my Becoming an Owner- Builder post is it should take on average between 4 – 6 weeks of build time for every $80,000 dollars you plan on spending.

I.e. if you were looking to spend $150,000 , build time could be between 7.5 weeks and 11.25 weeks, or if you are spending $500,000 (Calculate as follows 500K -:- 80K = (6.25 *weeks) = 25 weeks or 6.25 * weeks = 37.5 weeks or approx 9 months).

Now this is not an exact science but looking back over my data on completed projects that I’ve constructed over the last 15 odd years I can say it comes pretty close this figure.

To clarify the above I’m only talking about build time on site, I.e… When you strike your first blow with the hammer to vacuuming the dust off the floor for the last time. It’s the preliminary work off site before starting that also needs to be factored in.

The preliminary stage for most projects (if done correctly) can and probably should, take just as long as the construction time on site.
 

What other time needs to be factored in?

 
Before you strike a blow there are 3 critical stages and processes that need to be followed in order to set up you renovation project correctly, and to elaborate there are 5 key stages throughout the entire building process from start to finish. These key stages are listed below with some average times for how long each stage may take –

1. The Research Stage  – 2 weeks to 2 months or more.

2. Plan Stage  – 2 months to 6 months or more.

3. Pre- Construction Stage  – 3 months to 6 months.

4. Construction Stage – As above 4 weeks to 6 weeks on average per $80K of building cost.

5. Project Completion Stage. – 3 months.

Now if you are reading this article you are probably in one of the first three stages, more than likely in the initial research stage.

The Research stage is when you have first decided that you want to renovate your property and you start to do your homework. You will start by working out what you can afford to spend, start looking at the style of renovation you want, searching blogs and social media for ideas and inspiration, talking with other people who have renovated, and generally start to build an idea in your mind of what you want.

Depending on how much homework you chose to do you could be looking at anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months for this stage.
 

TIP – Keep an organized filing system during your Research Stage where you can store all your information and ideas that you come across, this will help to communicate your ideas in the next stage of the process.

 
Plan Stage. This stage is where you get your ideas out of your head and down on paper in some form of a plan of sketch. So how long should this stage take, well depending on how many revisions you end up with from your initial concept drawing and the scale of your project it could be anywhere from a few months to six months or more. I discussed this stage in more detail previously and I suggest checking it out to get a full understanding of the process.

I know for us it took 6 months to get our plans ready for the “Small Space Big Build Project”, and over 12 months in total before we were ready to start on site.

Pre Construction Stage. This stage consists of getting approvals from the relevant authorities, and here in Australia it is referred to as a Development Application (or DA for short). Along with getting your approval granted their is also time required for mapping out the timeline and schedule for your works, organizing trade contractors and material supply quotations, the selections process which I discussed in detail on in a previous post for all of your fittings like – taps, tiles, windows etc and much, much more.

In my opinion the Pre Construction Stage is the largest most time consuming stage out of all the 5 stages, and one you really need to put a lot of work into to insure a smooth running project. In retaliation to timing it really does come down to how complex your project is. If you are doing a small relative simple renovation (i.e….$100K) 3 months may get you out of trouble, but for larger projects 6 months worth of planning may be closer to what it actually takes.

Lastly after the Construction Stage is completed (wont go into to much detail on this stage now other than the times mentioned above) the final stage will be the Project Completion Stage. This stage takes into account all the requirements for obtaining final sign off by the relevant authorities. You will be required to obtain an occupation certificate upon completion of the construction works (will not be required for smaller renovations where a DA approval is not required).

There are also warranties and defects liability periods that you should enforce with your trades and contractors to make sure you archive a high quality of finish. Some defects liability periods on average are around 3 months after the contractor has completed their work, so I would generally allow another 3 months at the end of the renovation to encompass all of the warranties and liability periods.

So there you have it, I know its a lot of info to take in, but we are only just scratching the surface. Each one of these stages will have its own complexities and special requirements based on your own individual project, its my job to try and lay out as much of that information as possible so that you can educate yourself on some of the items that will get thrown your way during the course of your renovation project.

I hope this information comes in handy, please feel free to drop any questions in the comments section below.

Until next time, happy renovating.

James Mason.

 


 

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

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

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July 18th, 2015 in

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Owner Builder Information

Becoming an owner-builder: What does it mean, and is it for me?

The definition of an owner-builder is someone who obtains an owner-builder’s certificate from completing an owner-builder’s course (91509NSW), and then uses that certificate to apply to the relevant authority for an owner-builder’s permit. That permit is then used for a construction project to manage trades and suppliers and complete the work as agreed. You may only use an owner-builder’s permit for one project in a period of five years.

If you read some of the various literature out there, a common selling point for becoming an owner-builder is to remove the need for an actual licensed builder. As the homeowner, you can manage the project yourself with your owner-builder’s permit and save yourself 30% or more on the overall cost.

Are these comments true?

The answer is: yes and no. If managed correctly with the right structure, documentation, discipline, and time management skills, you may find you can save yourself something close to the above figure. If a project is poorly managed, then you could quite easily end up spending more than if you had hired a professional to manage the project for you. A professional would also decreaseyour stress levels.

The Truth

Building is hard, and it takes a lot of skill to manage all of the various designs, approvals, regulations, insurances, trades  (quality assurance), and suppliers.If you are “time poor” managing all of this becomes even harder.

The question you need to ask yourself is: Do I have the time to become an owner-builder?You need to be very ruthless when considering this. There are many circumstances that need to be taken into consideration, and one of them is the size of the project.

For a full-time builder or project manager, I use the rule of thumb that for every $80,000 of work that needs to be performed, a time commitment of 4–6 weeks is required (this does not include any of the upfront pre-commencement work; we will touch on these time frames later).

Therefore a $160,000 project could take between 8–12 weeks, and a $240,000 project between 12–18 weeks.

How do you measure up?

The above is not an exact science because other factors will come into play, such as the level of detail and various site constraints, but it is a good gauge to show how long it should take professionals who have good contacts and priority with certain trades and suppliers. If you’re just starting out on your first project as an owner-builder with no real connections then you should factor in more time.

So we come back to the question of time. If you plan on tackling a $300,000+ project, do you have close to 6 months or more of your time that you can seriously invest in your project? I’m not saying that you will need to be onsite eight hours a day (although it would be great if you could), but you should really be there first thing in the morning to kick things off, and again in the afternoon to check on the progress that’s been made. It also helps to make yourselfaccessible on the phone throughout the day if any questions or problems arise.

 

Don’t be nervous!

If the above sounds like it could be too much work due to time constraints such as a career or family commitments, you can always choose to hire a project manager to help assist you with the day-to-day running of your project. With this option, you are still the owner-builder and have full control of what you want to happen with your project, but you work with one contact person who manages the day-to-day operations in your place.

Now I’m not trying to scare you off from becoming an owner-builder, in fact I encourage it because there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a project from conception through to completion.However I am trying to make you fully aware of what’s involved and how disciplined and organised you will need to be to make your project a successful one. With the right training and advice, I can assist you with the information to get you there.

Below is a link to the Department of Fair Trading NSW.It will provide you a guide to the rules and regulations surrounding becoming an owner-builder.

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tenants_and_home_owners/Home_building_and_renovating/Becoming_an_owner_builder.page

 

By now you should have a basic overview of what the term owner-builder means. Let’s move onto the next topic, where you will learn about the requirements to run a successful 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?

Do you have an owner builder story you would like to share with us? If so please leave a comment below, or share with someone who you think will value from this article. 

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!