“The new living spaces encapsulate the concept of modern living where internal areas transition seamlessly into the great Australian outdoor.”
The most significant benefit in a home renovation must necessarily involve the transformation of a lowest value use space to become the highest value use.
The concept of floor space maximization can be very different when comparing a multi-million dollar palatial mansion with the average suburban home. For the former, real estate value might be achieved by allocating large open spaces for no good reason other than to give a sense of vastness and abundance. For example, the size of an entrance foyer of high-end properties might need to be as large as a master bedroom of the average suburban home in order to capitalize its real estate value. Luxury use of space for these properties are just as important, if not more so than its functionality.
On the other hand, suburban homes are usually limited by space constraints and the home renovator needs to be clever in striking a balance between luxury and functional use of space.
I am a strong believer of minimalism, an art movement in post-World War II which lent inspiration to a whole new dimension in visual arts, music, design and lifestyle.
From a decor and lifestyle perspective, adopting a minimalist outlook helps reduce clutter, improve space efficiency and promote a sense of peace and zen.
MUJI is a Japanese chain of retail stores selling clothing and household goods with a distinctive emphasis on minimalist design, recycling, a no-logo or “no-brand” policy and the avoidance of waste in production and packaging.
Strive for perfection in everything you do.
Take the best that exists and make it better.
When it does not exist, design it.
~ Sir Henry Royce, co-founder of the Rolls-Royce company.
It is a cliché to say “the kitchen is the heart of a home” because kitchens of yesteryears were small rooms where glorious aromas would draw conviviality among family and friends. People would gather around the stove top just to get a taste of the wooden spoon.
Today, modern kitchens of contemporary homes are wide open spaces which have the most advanced rangehoods that not only suck away all those delicious aromas, they do it so silently you can hear a spoon drop.
The Before and After
To be more precise then, the stove top is no longer the heart of the kitchen because open concept kitchens have ushered the island benchtop into the spotlight, making it the superstar of the entire kitchen and quite often, the entire house.
Our previous kitchen was a U-shaped design with the stove top and rangehood located at the end of the galley way. A wall and internal window separated the kitchen on one side with an unusable corridor and oversized laundry on the other side. Space on each side of the cooktop was too small with a dead corner to do any meaningful prep work and was relegated to storing sauces, a toaster and kettle.
Irrespective of why you choose to renovate your own home,
the most important underlying factor must always be the enhancement of its capital value.
The writer of this article is a CPA of Australia. He has worked in one of the Big-3 international Accounting firms and has developed and renovated numerous residential properties in Australia.
As I write this article, home owners and real estate investors are facing the most challenging times in the history of home ownership in Australia.
Real estate prices are trending at historic highs in Sydney and Melbourne, two cities which I consider premier and the most cosmopolitan in this country. National wage growth is practically stagnant while household debt to income ratio is riding precariously thin. And despite a string of rock-solid economic credentials – inflation of less than 2% per annum, unemployment rate averaging at a respectable 5.5% for the last four years and annual GDP growth of around 3%, interest rates are at 60-year lows of 1.5% and is forecast for at least another cut in 2017.
Notwithstanding the fact we like to change prime ministers like we change BBQ sets every couple of years, the political system is stable and robust as it should a developed nation like ours. Australia is also a $1.6 trillion economy which is inextricably linked with the dynamism of China, the new upstart that is increasingly determined to flex both her soft and hard political muscles in the Asia Pacific region.
The fallout from these factors is a generation of aspiring homeowners destined to become life-long renters in a vast, land-abundant country they call home. For this group of young people, the Australian dream of home ownership is being shut out with each failed attempt at weekend auctions dominated by cashed up investors and baby boomers.
Living among the chaos of a home renovation is not for princesses. Then again, I ain’t no prince either.
I met up with four builders who eventually gave me written quotations for our home renovation. One of the many questions I posed to each was whether we can live in this house while the renovation was ongoing.
Three out of four reckon it will be fine. And Mysaucepan thought it would be okay too, so here we are, in our fourth month since works began on 19 July 2016. The obvious advantage of living in an ongoing renovation is savings in rent for the duration of the works. For me, being able to liaise and solve problems instantaneously with my builder and tradies on site is even more valuable and important because it makes their job easier and faster. I have learnt much more about building construction on this reno that all my previous renos and new builds.
It has been a long time coming for I have been wanting to demolish this kitchen that came with the house.
Though functional, the wooden cabinets are dated and old. As an enthusiastic home cook, I dislike the design and layout because the microwave, fridge and rubbish disposal are located in awkward areas. The sink is not an undermount let alone one of those with a big and small section where the latter is pretty much a waste of space.
Project planning is an on-going and continuous process before and during the construction phase of a renovation.
I have allowed for contingencies in my budget for the unforeseen – what if we discover a huge boulder while digging into the ground or the entire roof suddenly crumbles during demolition. Depending on the nature and size of the project, I have previously provided a 10% contingency on construction costs for new builds.
It seems like ages since sale contracts were exchanged on the 4 June 2015 for this property.
A contingency clause in the sale contract is incumbent upon the seller obtaining probate from the trustee for a deceased estate before settlement can occur. After a prolonged delay, we finally settled on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 for a contract that normally takes 42 days to do so.
I went straight into project planning mode after contracts were exchanged in June 2015, engaging my building designer to formalize and submit a DA for the renovation and addition.
Bird of paradise plant on our front lawn (flowering money plant in foreground)
“Why don’t you harvest these beautiful bird of paradise and place them in your home?” my friend Molly says as she wanders around my front lawn. Simple as these words may seem whilst rummaging through the day, I feel something is amiss.
(Music to accompany this blog post ~ click on the image above before proceeding)
You see, I just got home on my own after a short trip in Singapore because Mysaucepanis still there with her parents.
But just like any other day, the cockatoos, parakeets and minors are out in force. They are vying for karaoke rights in a street that barely hears anything else apart from the giant gum trees whispering in the wind.
Despite such tranquil surroundings on a beautiful winter day, why does it feel a little different today? Continue reading →