Sometimes you hear people talk about a house needing a renovation as a ‘blank canvas’, if only that was true! The first stage of renovating (once your plannings in hand of course) is getting the house Back to Blank.
Renovation starts hard – you need to go 20 paces back before you can move forward, but if you don’t go back to blank correctly, you will set yourself up for a tough renovation. You can’t cut any corners. You need to scape every bit of peeling paint before you sand it all back and seal it – which I constantly need to remind Caleb of. You need to uproot and spray every weed. You need to strip away every bit of wallpaper. Fill every hole and seal every crack.
Clean up, demolition and preparation takes time and a whole lot of hard work. The more a house is left without maintenance the more time and effort required to get it to a place you can start recreating the space. Our Hidden Treasure was no different, it needed a complete makeover to get to a state where we could start adding value to it.
The outside was a jungle, there were trees and weeds overgrown everywhere. There were vines eating into the side of the house, windows were damaged, trees to be removed, rubbish all over the property, and the paint was peeling from the exterior. We even had a garden shed converted into a homemade sauna. There was nothing blank about it.
It was exactly the same within the house. Wallpaper was peeling off the walls, the ceilings were caked in nicotine and some of the floorboards had rotten away. Demolition is a time consuming job that is very physical, you need to be planned, safe and strong. Before you start throwing a sledgehammer around, have a plan of what you want to achieve within your renovation, so you know what to throw out and what to save. As you demo, consider that you are throwing out, one mans trash is another man’s treasure.
Due to the scale of the work to clear the site we decided to get a contractor to look after this and we would focus on the house. We arranged for a local contractor to clear the site, and after what seemed like a whole rugby team turning up, within a week and half a dozen skip bins later the sheds were gone, trees removed and site cleared.
With the help of Caleb’s parents, we tackled the inside. Removing the kitchen, bathroom, chimney, pulling up carpet and anything that was loose. If we came across that we through was worth anything, we stored in the garage and sold later on trademe. The ceilings were yellow from years of smoke and my mother-in-law spent many hours scrubbing these to get back to blank.
Demolition is a very physically demanding part of a renovation, but an extremely rewarding one. You can see the progress you make each day as you work backwards. The cleanup and prep work require equal effort as you get your house ready to start working forward. It is mundane and you need to be pedantic, but there is nothing like getting a house back to blank so you can truly create.