The Home Office – My Grown Up Cubby House

One of the best parts of the new house is the home office. This is my productivity cave. I can go there and shut myself in and because I am ‘at work’ I don’t get as many interruptions. One of my work colleagues visited recently and playfully commented it was like a grown up cubby house and she is right – it does feel a bit like a large playhouse and I hope we all continue to have fun as well as be productive in it.

The Office - My Grown Up Cubby House

Having a separate home office was one of the primary reasons we decided to build a new home. The Old Queenslander was lovely as a family home, however the office was part of the house and it was so easy to get distracted with home stuff like laundry or cooking when I really should have been concentrating on paid work.

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Moving In

After nearly a year and a half of renovation and building, and a few weeks of frantic activity, we have finally settled into the new house. We are discovering all those things that were either buried in the move or have been packed away in boxes for the duration – it’s a wonderful discovery of how much you don’t need after all with the Op shops around us being blessed with a number of items that we obviously couldn’t part with 18 months ago but have now discovered otherwise.

The old Queenslander and the new Queenslander side by side.

The week before the move was filled with activity. At one stage we had plumbers, tilers and painters all working around each other; it’s amazing what a deadline can do to get things moving.

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Preparing the house for rent

Well with the imminent completion of the new home, we listed the Queenslander on the rental market, one viewing and it was rented and to a preferred tenant. How did that happen? This result I believe is because we followed a deliberate approach to the renovation combined with using a premium rental service and being clear about the sort of tenant we preferred.

Preparation is the key to getting a good tenant

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Finding the ideal house for renovation and development

I’ve actually learned a few things over our years of buying and renovating properties, some of these have been hard lessons where we made mistakes that cost us, while others I have learnt by listening to others who have trod a path before us. Now that we are getting to the end of our current small development I can see that those earlier lessons have paid off with positive results. Recently I have been reflecting on what we did right and what could have been done better, at least with the renovated Queenslander and general development process.

Finding the right property is essential when planning for a development. The costs can blow out if you don't do your homework.

When we initially ventured into purchasing properties for renovation we generally didn’t end up making a lot of money or creating much equity in the property; mainly this was because we didn’t purchase the right properties. After listening to, and learning from, other more experienced renovators and developers I gained a better idea of what we needed to look for when seeking a property to develop. Read more

So just how much does it cost to renovate a Queenslander?

How much does it cost to renovate a Queenslander? A lot more than I thought.

Then

Six months ago we had a two bedroom, one bathroom, one living room house. Admittedly there was also a sleep-out and an office that had been created by filling in the verandah, while these gave us extra rooms they effectively closed off the house from any breezes (not good in a Queensland summer) and made the living area very dark. The kitchen was at the rear of the house and there was a lovely rear deck however, there was no flow between the living room and the deck. Our average sized dining table dwarfed the small dining area and blocked access to the bathroom.

The original Queenslander home, all the beautiful features hidden, just waiting to be revealed.

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Decorative Finishes

Decorative FinishesHow often do you drive around the suburbs and see one boring brick or rendered house after another? I know this is probably a bit of a blanket observation and some areas avoid this uninspiring view. Those that do are often the older suburbs with a range of building styles and rooflines. There is also a new area near us that has been dedicated to Queenslander style homes, the homes display a lot of variety and of course the Queenslander decorative finishes. We have reached that part of the renovation where we get to add in some of the decorative features that will define the style of the home and personalise it. So what have we done?

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The problem with painting an old home

The addition of window hoods to the house - although awaiting iron sheeting - adds a decorative as well as practical element to the front of the house.

The addition of window hoods to the house – although awaiting iron sheeting – adds a decorative as well as practical element to the front of the house.

This week the exterior of the house gained a bit more Queenslander decoration; the addition of two timber awnings over the front windows. They still need to be kitted out with some iron, but you can start to see how they will look and also how they will shade the windows. The house had a metal window hood on the now upper window when we bought it, however this didn’t seem to suit the house. These new ones are more in keeping with the original style of the home and complement the single skin look I mentioned in last week’s post. Oh, and we didn’t take the old hood to the tip, we put it out on the front nature strip and when I looked out about an hour later it was gone, freecycling at it’s best. Read more

Balancing costs in a renovation

New front door has now been glazed and a lock added. The decorative single skin effect of the Queenslander house has been added.

New front door has now been glazed and a lock added. The decorative single skin effect of the Queenslander house has been added.

Kitchen cabinets, vanities, built-in drawers, a front door with glass in it and a lock, even new balustrading and front and rear stairs. It’s been all action this week!

When considering renovating the house, we decided that where possible, we would maintain as much of the Queenslander feel as we were able. This is why we opted for matching weatherboards (rather than a rendered blue board on the lower floor that I see on many renovations), double hung windows in the front with awnings (currently being constructed) and bringing back the single skin effect in the entrance and upstairs balcony areas. This is all coming together nicely. Yes, it has been a little more expensive, but we have balanced this out in savings in other areas – recycling the kitchen, sliding windows on the sides of the house and timber look vinyl rather than polished timber boards. Read more

Can knowing the history of a home increase its value or perhaps decrease it?

In the UK and Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

In Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

Ok, I know that our cities and suburbs are relatively young compared to Europe, with many suburbs, or areas of a suburb, less than 100 years old. Here in Australia we tend to think a Victorian house or even a Post-war home as old. In my street we have a mix of house styles ranging from the ‘between the wars’ Queenslander, like ours, through to the low set brick home that was built last year (and which generated a lot of tut tutting from those owner occupiers in the street, its unsympathetic style marring the streetscape – but more of that in another post). So my question is ‘if the Queenslander is one of the oldest houses in the street, and most likely in the suburb, and we can discover its history, is this likely to make it more attractive to buyers?’ Read more