Despite having to put up with having a possum living in the roof, cats under the floorboards and tradies arriving every day at 7am, Barnett Property’s Jason Barnett has enjoyed the experience of renovating his own house and would do it again. “I don’t think I’d ever go on The Block,” says Jason with a smile, “but I would do it again. The rewarding side is that every couple of days you come home and there’s a major change. You can start to see it taking shape.”
Jason and his family are at the tail-end of a large scale renovation of their 1960’s Highton home, with most of the work focused on an extension out the back of the house. Having renovated the kitchen and bathrooms in a small-scale renovation when they bought the house 10 years ago, the couple chose to live in the house during this renovation.
Having a working kitchen meant staying in the house was viable. “Without a kitchen we’d be 10 kilos heavier!” laughs Jason, who says that even with a kitchen, takeaway meals have become increasingly common. “With so much going on, getting tea organised and the kids into bed is so disrupted. Normally we’re a once a week fast food type of family, but these days the kids only have to half ask for takeaways and we say yes!”
“We’re eyeing off the end now, we haven’t been able to relax in our house for a while.”
Despite the disruptions, the renovating process has been an interesting one that Jason would recommend to others.
Initially, Jason considered selling the property and buying one that was already done, but he couldn’t find what he wanted in the location he was after.
“We could have sold out and made a bit more money, but wouldn’t have had access to the schools and shops,” he explains. “We decided to improve where we are – to stay put and turn the house we initially bought as a rental into our family home.”
Along the way Jason has learnt a lot about the process and has some advice for would-be renovators. One key piece of advice Jason would share would be to spend as much time as possible in the planning stages, and to have a clear conversation with your builder about your expectations for the finish of the build. “People always tell the builder they don’t want to spend too much, so the builder spends all their time keeping the costs down. Then at the end of the day the client complains that the shower head, for example, is too small. Our builder keeps apologising about the few little extra costs. But I’m not worried – I want to do it right and I’m not concerned.”
Another piece of advice would be not to be afraid to go back to the bank to ask for extra money if necessary. “Don’t worry if you need to borrow a bit more – the difference in the repayments will be miniscule; even better, factor in a buffer when you go to visit the bank in the first place. Ten per cent extra is a good guide. We’ve ended up replacing gutters and eves that we thought would be fine – the old ones and new ones didn’t match. As well as that our pipes needed to be replaced and nobody had factored that in.”
Now the end of the build is drawing near, Jason is looking forward to celebrating New Year’s Eve in his renovated home.
“It will be great to have a big living area and have all our friends around and celebrate the finish of the job,” he says. And they’ll finally be able to say goodbye to those possums and cats as well.
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