Welcome to ‘Project Home’ by Builderscrack, our exclusive access-all-areas, warts and all look at a home renovation, from property search, to moving-in day.

In this series, we follow a Christchurch couple in their bid to turn their 1960’s fixer-upper, from a retro rental to a modern home.

If you’ve ever considered buying an older home but have lacked the confidence to tackle something totally outdated, this guide is for you. It’s a whole lot of fun, and not as hard (or anywhere near as risky) as you might imagine.

This chapter brings the project to a close. With the incredible reveal published last week, all there is left to do is wrap up on the final costings and timeline – and gather final thoughts on, if any, aspects could have been improved.

From Jeremy & Alana, and everyone here at Builderscrack, we hope you’ve enjoyed following Project Home. If you’re wanting to get your own project underway, or even just need a repair or maintenance job doing – Post your job today. It’s 100% free for homeowners 🙂

So that’s a wrap! Tell us, is there anything you’d have done differently with the house, in hindsight?

Thanks, and good question!

Let’s start with the actual renovation outcome. With respect to what we and our tradespeople achieved, we wouldn’t change a thing.

We’ve been in for a couple of months now. The house is everything we dreamed it to be. The living area is a joy to cook and relax in. We achieved the indoor/outdoor flow we were hoping for. The house is quiet, draught-free and warm with the double-glazing. The finish is crisp, fresh and new. It is essentially a new house, and we wouldn’t change a thing.

How about with the way things were executed?

That’s a tough one! We were very fortunate to have such an awesome group of tradespeople working on our project. We wouldn’t hesitate to work with every one of them again. So we wouldn’t change anything here.

With respect to our project management, there are definitely a few things we learned along the way:

  • We could have condensed the timeline a little, for instance, when we ordered things, like the kitchen, flooring, and so on. This could have sped the project up a little bit, but also would have introduced a bit more stress. But knowing what we know now, that’s something we’d do in the future.
  • We could have started talking to a couple of our tradespeople a little earlier – even though we reached out quite early, ahead of the start of our project, I don’t think there is any harm in beginning to chat 2-3 months out.
  • The power got cut off halfway through the project, and we had to pay an emergency fee to get it put back on. This was a minor detail that slipped through the cracks, because we had only recently purchased the house and hadn’t considered services like power.
  • While we enjoyed project managing this renovation, there are numerous benefits to having a competent builder or project manager manage a renovation too. Depending on how we’re positioned in our lives in the future and the type of project we do next, we’d definitely consider having someone else manage the project. While it wasn’t overly stressful, it was a lot of work!

Did your project meet your budget and time expectations?

With respect to our 75k budget, it was just under. One thing we discovered is there is a price-point for most materials/products that if we’d opted to go under, we’d have rapidly compromised the quality of our living environment. This couldn’t have been more true than for the kitchen.

We kept meticulous details of our costs which we updated every day, in a spreadsheet with both projected and actual costs – this guided decisions as we went. We executed decisions with restraint, and kept our mission statement front of mind with every decision.

In the end, we kept within our budget, and we don’t believe we’ve over-capitalised on our house.

The various trades and services invoice totals came in at roughly the following (including materials for each trade):

  • Building: $13k
  • Double Glazing: $20k
  • Electrical: $3k
  • Plumbing: $5.5k
  • Brickwork: $1.5k
  • Kitchen: $15k
  • Plastering: $1.5k
  • Painting: $7.5k
  • Flooring: $7.5k

We should acknowledge that we worked very hard to streamline the project, to avoid incurring extra travel costs and maximise every visit made by each tradesperson. Working closely with our builder, we ensured that the “to-dos” were clear each day for everyone involved. We also took care of a lot of the “in between” jobs like cleaning, tidying and some dumping of rubbish. To avoid short visits by tradespeople we undertook a little work on some small details ourselves. We searched for and acquired materials for certain jobs in some cases. In effect, as well as project managing, we also contributed time and effort to the project where it made sense to keep our tradespeople from working on the “little stuff” (and stayed right out of the way on the big stuff!), in turn, making small savings here and there.

With respect to our 10 week time goal, it ended up closer to 12. This was due to the aforementioned points about confirming orders a little late on our part. This wasn’t a big deal in the scheme of things – and something we’ll bear in mind next time.

As we’ve covered each chapter you’ve given us some great takeaways. What are some project-level takeaways you can offer?

There are definitely a few key things which seemed to come up over and over again. It didn’t matter how big or small the job was, we always found we needed to pay attention to the following:

Research

We spent a lot of time in the evenings researching every aspect of our renovation. When it appeared as though there were many ways to achieve the same outcome we would note the options and discuss them with our tradesperson. But mostly, we would research everything we could and take notes and try and be as informed as we could about everything that we wanted done.

Planning

Out of our research came options, and we’d always compare those options back to our “mission statement“, which was: “An uncomplicated renovation to transform our house into a warm, peaceful home. Easy to live in. Clean and simple finishes. On-time (10 weeks) and on budget ($75k)”

Our mission statement was a critical tool to determine the best option in many cases.

Communication

We can’t over-emphasise how important high-quality two-way communication was between us and the tradespeople working on our project. We worked hard on asking the right questions and listened to their expertise when they spoke. We built solid relationships with all of our tradespeople and checked in regularly as to what was happening each day. As a project owner, it can be hard to find a good balance between not being too “needy” – and keeping on top of things. I think we even talked about that with one or two of them! I think it would be fair to say that communication was one of the key aspects that led to such a great outcome on this project.

Payment

Seems simple, but prompt payment goes a long way to demonstrate an appreciation for the tradesperson’s work. We paid our invoices more or less as soon as we received them, and I believe this helped build the type of good relationships necessary for a great project outcome.

Who would you like to thank?

Firstly, thanks to you guys, Builderscrack. The tradespeople we found through your platform were total legends, and the project outcome is a testament to that. Your service is brilliant.

We’d like to thank the tradespeople and the companies that supported and worked so hard on our project:

  • Mark Smith Builders
  • Rockford Aluminium
  • Nick Jones Plumbing
  • JWB Electrical
  • Kitchen Concepts
  • MCA Masonry
  • ZG Plastering & Painting
  • Jason Ward Painter Decorator
  • Resene Paints
  • Flooring Centre

Thank’s so much Jeremy & Alana for having us along for your renovation journey. Best of luck for the future and enjoy your place!

Feeling motivated to get something done to your place? Post your job on Builderscrack today.

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