Alexandra. Known as the hottest, driest and coldest town in New Zealand. Have we been here before? We drove through it on our honeymoon 9 years ago. But we didn’t stop. Now we have moved our lives down here. Good move? We sure hope so - and about to find out.
Buying a house can be a daunting experience. As with anything, the first step is always the biggest, and when you learn the most. It’s often only through hindsight you realise how much there is to know and what you might have done differently. Our property story to date has been concentrated in one city - Auckland. This focus has helped us become experienced in this market, but we are newbies to doing it out of our hometown.
We are excited to start our Renovation Road Trip - but how do we narrow down where to move to when there are so many options? In fact, over 30,000 properties for sale in NZ right now. How do we know we will move to the right place? Or buy the right house? Will we be able to buy, renovate and sell a home and create a profit in any town? We may be have all the answers but Caleb has a strategy that will help us find right town and house that will suit us!
For a while now, we have been working toward an idea we can’t stop thinking about - The Renovation Road Trip. In short - we are leaving our world in Auckland (including jobs), packing a car and trailer full of the essentials and relocating around New Zealand. The aim is to renovate 2-3 homes in different towns within 12-18 months, as well as taking constant road trips to explore our big backyard. This has been a plan that was conceived and developed over the past 2 years for us. But before we get started, we wanted to begin by sharing why we are doing this crazy, scary thing that is, The Renovation Road Trip.
The Reno Race Rookies, Dan and Claire had a project on their hands when it came to their master bedroom and the temporary guest bedroom (which will hopefully be a nursery one day - no pressure). The rookies nailed the brief to create a space that is all about comfort with touches of their own personality and style.
The Reno Race Rookies, Dan and Claire took on their living space renovation focussed on three mains projects.. The first project was the preparation and painting of the walls, trims and ceilings. The second project was restoring the original hardwood flooring that were covered by the carpet. And finally upgrading the lighting plan and installing blinds.
The Reno Race Rookies, Dan and Claire inherited a bathroom that was designed for the previous owner (a lovely lady in her nineties). A while the bathroom may have been perfect for her - it wasn't exactly what they had in mind. The bathroom makeover was biggest renovation project the rookies took on, as they changed the whole layout of the space, removed walls and floors and essentially re-built the whole area.
The Reno Race Rookies, Dan and Claire are first time home owners and renovators. There are a lot of things they are taking on for the very first time - a mortgage, power tools, a renovation budget, a project schedule, hiring trades, making interior design decisions... to name just a few! But by far their most significant first was their kitchen renovation.
The great thing about older homes is often flooring is timber floorboards, even if it is covered by outdated carpet or vinyl (it still amazes me anyone would cover them up). Most renovators will want to add new, modern, on trend features to their house but keeping the original floors is a great way of keeping an element of the original house design that still looks modern and striking.
Our Reno Race project has been all about keeping costs down and renovating on a tight schedule. With the kitchen, we were pretty limited by what we could do, but what surprised us was how much of an improvement you can make without much money at all.
Our biggest change in this renovation was turning the separate dining room into a 4th bedroom. And that where the changing stopped - we didn’t add more power-plugs, add extra lighting or wardrobes. We kept costs down by only adding elements we thought would add value.
For our Reno Race project, the experts Alice and Caleb had a clear idea of how they were going to approach this renovation, it was a budget cosmetic makeover. The priority was to do it as effectively as possible - both in spending as little as possible and doing it as quickly as possible. In short our goal was to do the full project, interior and exterior in 3-4 weeks with a budget of $33K.
Designing a kids room is always an adventure. Creating spaces for kids to play, learn and sleep (hopefully!) that suits their personalities and style – but doesn’t look like they have designed the room themselves. We decided early on we wanted to create a shared bedroom and a playroom, rather than one girl’s bedroom and one boy’s bedroom. As we renovated and designed there were a few things I focused on; adding storage solutions, creating defined areas in the rooms and adding details the kids would love.
Every room in a renovation needs a starting point. The point of difference in the living room is that my starting point is the last thing you add to the room - the furniture. I don't mean a furniture floor plan, it is more calculated. The accent colour of cushions influenced the wall colour I selected, the placement of the TV determined how we repositioned a window, the tone of the wooden furniture impacted the finish I selected on our hardwood floors. I have found the best way to renovate and design a lounge is when you know exactly you want to furnish it in the end.
I have come to appreciate the simplicity of a small bathroom space and see the true potential of what a small space can hold. Being a small sized individual myself – I am an advocator for the fact big things come in small packages.
Our brief for our dining room is all about what we want as a family, not how to fit in eight people for a dinner party that might only happen every few months at best. What we wanted from our dining room was a place for the family (including toddlers) to eat meals together, a place for Caleb and I to work and a relaxing adult space that won’t constantly be covered in toys and small hand marks! This has lead us to a final design that we love, for so many reasons.
I love the boldness that’s required when you design a kitchen. From small samples you select what will be the complete look of your kitchen. There’s no room for changing your mind - once it’s installed, it’s there for good. No matter how good your imagination, it’s hard to be totally sure what the end result will look like. And if that isn’t challenging enough, with this kitchen we wanted to push our creativity. Our objective was to create a kitchen outside the comfort of our “go-to” choices. It was exciting, thrilling and a little bit terrifying.
The first challenge of our kitchen renovation was that the existing kitchen wasn’t in the right place in the house. It seemed to me the original designer created a 4-bedroom house and then realised he had forgotten to add a kitchen. To correct his oversight, he quickly added some cabinets to the first bedroom he saw and hoped no one would notice. It was hard not to notice a should-be bedroom with cabinets along one wall at the back of the house, when the rest of the living was at the front.
Our master bedroom may not be much to look at in its original state. But it had my heart from the very start, thanks to its position in the house - mainly because of its distance from the kids bedrooms! This new master bedroom will be a retreat in our own home and therefore deserves our time and attention. Unfortunately, those are two things we don’t have in abundant supply.
Renovating the exterior of a house holds a lot of value and importance. Simply put, the exterior is the only space in your house that every single visitor will see, when it comes to high traffic areas the exterior will always rank #1. With exterior renovations you have the opportunity to make a strong first impression in terms of design and create additional living areas to relax and entertain in. It would be safe to say, most New Zealanders place a high value on outdoor living. In fact, as we searched for our relocatable house for our section, we only considered houses that had a layout that would allow for indoor/outdoor flow.