Renovating Tips

An alteration or home improvement is designed to change the layout of your home and normally involves moving, removing or adding in walls to create different rooms in new locations. An alteration or improvement is carried out within the existing footprint of your house, to make better use of the available existing space, without adding on an extension.

It might be as simple as dividing one large bedroom into two smaller ones, or involve removing multiple structural walls to create a large open-plan living, kitchen and dining area. Or moving things around to gain an extra bathroom.

Many older houses for example have lots of separate rooms, massive laundry areas and no indoor / outdoor flow … and a reconfiguration of the layout can make significant improvements.

Wall Removal & Addition … Walls are meant to be moved. Yes, you heard me right … to be moved! How else can you redesign your house exactly the way you want it?

Yes, some walls are structural or load-bearing and need to be handled appropriately, but they are (almost) always movable or removable. It’s just about replacing the structural element that is being removed.

Also, don’t get concerned about the need for big enclosed beams hanging down into your room space. In many, many cases it is possible to include new structural beams into the above-room/ceiling space and achieve a new continuous ceiling below … which looks much, much better.

Equally sometimes the answer is to add a wall to give you a new bedroom, or a bathroom/toilet, or a hallway or an entrance.

So … Your ultimate wall removal or addition solution does not necessarily have to be constrained by existing wall locations … we may simply need to include a smart structural engineer in the planning!

Dining Room & Lounge Extensions … The lounge and dining room are often “showcase” areas or places of gathering, so appearance and quality of finish are important when you’re looking at renovating.

In addition, in older homes renovating these areas gives you a chance to update the general appearance, add more power points, light switches, heating or technology. It’s also a great opportunity to add that extra level of comfort by installing more insulation, or gaining convenience by adding or relocating power points. You can also get the opportunity to check the condition of existing walls & framing, and it’s an ideal time to add new floor coverings, drapes etc.

Of all the rooms in your house though, re-designing and renovating your dining room and lounge SHOULD be the easiest. Unlike bathrooms and kitchens, you’re dealing with rooms that have relatively few “things” in them. There is normally no plumbing to contend with, no sinks, no shower units, and no appliances.

But … lounge and dining room design can be more complicated, precisely because of the absence of things in the finished room … there’s nothing to cover up a design mistake, and if you get it wrong, it’s simply “out there” for everyone to see.

Bedrooms Reconfigured Or Added On … Upgrading or re-designing a bedroom or two can be an affordable way to easily add value to your home.

Sometimes you can easily also gain an extra bedroom as well as upgrading what you’ve got … make 2 bedrooms into 3 or split an extra-large one into two. Be aware of where windows currently are, and if you can work around their locations and not have to move them, you can save yourself money. Generally speaking though, like walls, all windows are movable.

Plus … don’t forget that you can add ensuites as well as part of the upgrade. There’s no rule that says you can only have an ensuite adjacent to the master bedroom. If you think multiple bathrooms will work, then consider it a possibility. An ensuite next to your guest bedroom is always a bonus.

Bedrooms are probably the most important and sacred room in our home. They are the ultimate sanctuary away from our day to day hassles and worries, a place for us to reconnect with ourselves, our partner, a place to recharge and rejuvenate. We read, we relax, and yes, we even sleep in our bedrooms.

So, it’s important to get it right.

Here are some tips on bedroom renovation that might help you with your planning:

Bedroom Space – work out how large your bedroom needs to be in order to suit your lifestyle and the bedroom furniture that you want to include. If you have big chunky wooden bedroom furniture then you need space so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the bedroom. Also, how big is the bed you’re going to include … double, queen, king or super king? Nothing ruins a bedroom re-design quicker than not being able to use it the way you wanted.

Bedroom Lighting – Lighting is often overlooked, but it’s an important part of bedroom designs. Lighting plays an important role in creating the overall feel of the bedroom. For example, a master bedroom and a child’s study room, don’t justify the same type or style of lighting. If you like to read in the bedroom or watch TV however, you need to have adequate and appropriate lights included. Don’t forget that the use of table and floor lamps can bring light to any part of the bedroom, as well as add a touch of class.

Bedroom Colours – choose colours that are restful, relaxing, and preferably neutral. Strong colours should generally be avoided, unless you personally find them comforting. Designing your bedroom interior with a splash of a bright colour will obviously liven up the room, but don’t let it dominate everything and change the overall desired relaxing effect.

Bedroom Curtains – Choose layered curtains in the bedroom. It allows you flexibility to wake up to filtered light, black out the entire room for naps and sleeping in the day or open up for full daylight.

Bedroom flooring – Ideally, the flooring in your bedroom should never be too heavy like tile, marble or granite as these give you an ice cold feel in the morning when you first wake and get up. It is generally recommended to use wood or carpet for bedrooms.

Basement & Rumpus Remodelling … Basements are often ignored space, but a basement renovation/conversion adds more living space to your home, with a nearly limitless number of uses.

What could you use the extra basement space for?

Here are the top six uses for that converted bonus basement space:

  1. An entertainment room or home theatre (or “Man Cave”)
  2. An added bathroom or shower
  3. An additional bedroom or guest suite
  4. Exercise space
  5. Extra office space
  6. Space for the extended family to live

Many growing families choose basement renovation to create an extra place for kids to play, but adults need “playtime” as well. Maybe you could create a bar, a games area, a kitchenette, or lots of comfortable seating to enjoy your TV viewing. For some these are essentials.

Or how about a wine cellar? A soundproof music room? A home recording studio?

There are many, many options for an often wasted and unused space.

Remedial Structural work … Unfortunately it’s all too frequent that we find a client’s home is unsafe, due to some significant structural issue. But we can help!

We can resolve issues with your piles and sub-floor structure, and with inconsistent floor levels. Sometimes piles have been eroded away or over-zealous previous owners have excavated around them inappropriately.

And sometimes there’s damage from ongoing earthquakes or due to inadequate structural design or support. We can conduct earthquake assessments to identify potential issues for you as well.

We can also help with the removal of chimneys including the cladding, internal wall linings and floor changes that are associated with a chimney removal.

Bathrooms, Toilets & Ensuites

In many older houses the bathroom has a bath and a hand-basin, and a rusted chrome towel rail, and square patterned lino on the floor. Or maybe an upgrade 30 years ago put a shower cubicle in and a long vanity with mosaic tiled top and plastic pink basin, now usually stained and discoloured.

It can all go out in the bin (or to the re-cyclers) and we can install modern tiled showers with sliding shower heads, elegant vanities, heated towel rails and fabulous well-lit mirrors. Whatever you want it can be provided (well almost anything!).

Again, bathroom renovations are most successful when combined with an extension (such as adding on a new master suite with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite) or an alteration to an existing internal layout to make better use of the available space.

From the design point of view, the bathroom can present challenges, but along with those challenges come wonderful opportunities as well. With a little thought and planning, you can create a bathroom or ensuite that is truly to your own style and budget.

You need to remember that the standard of the bathrooms in a property can be a make-or-break factor in home-buying decisions. Along with the kitchen, it can be a major factor in determining whether a sale is achieved, and at what price. It can boost the value of your home, increase the overall functionality, and make you feel much more pleasant about being in one of the most used rooms in the house. So it’s not a place to scrimp on your investment in dollar terms.

Here are some design points (and some “let’s-be-practical” points as well) that you might like to take into account in the new layout etc. of your bathroom or ensuite:

  1. Firstly, your bathroom or ensuite MUST work for you and your family. It will probably be used for many years so it needs to take into account your particular needs for comfort and convenience.
  2. And … secondly it must be aesthetically pleasing.
  3. The first visual point upon entering into the bathroom / ensuite doorway should be your vanity and basin. The tallest item, the shower, should be in the farthest back corner.
  4. Obviously, the toilet should be placed as far out of sight as possible. Some people make it the first thing you see when entering a bathroom, but it always creates a negative image in the viewer’s mind, so it should be the last thing they see.
  5. The bath is a focal point as well, and should generally speaking be close to the vanity / basin.
  6. Make use of multiple low voltage lights, as it brightens up the bathroom and the brighter the room the bigger it appears to be.
  7. Use large and stunning mirrors. It creates the illusion of space and quality, and has the obvious practical uses as well.
  8. A bigger tile achieves a number of things. It reduces the grout which gives a smoother and a softer effect, and the installation labour and time. Doing this also makes the room look bigger and better over a longer period of time, as it is the grout that ultimately discolours, and the less there is the better from this perspective. Lighter coloured tiles also make the bathroom look larger. But bigger tiles require a flatter surface under them so there may be some floor levelling needed.
  9. Be careful not to be caught with things like steps in front of a bath. They might look stylish but they take up lots of floor space, are generally uncomfortable to stand on and can be dangerous and slippery.
  10. Also, don’t include a tiled rim around the bath that’s too wide. Again, it might look good from a design perspective but can ultimately prove annoying as you bump the inner sides of your legs every time you get in or out of the bath.
  11. Tip from Ann … Be wary of free-standing baths, as you need to lie on your stomach to clean underneath them. Unless the cleaner gets this job!
  12. Open cupboards and shelves are an often incorporated design feature as well, but use it wisely as all your bathroom “clutter” is visible.
  13. Make sure you don’t put old and new products together as they stand out like a sore thumb. If you are going to upgrade your bathroom, do the whole thing, not just part. Do it once and do it right!
  14. If you can avoid them, do not use products which have been re-enamelled, re-glazed or re-surfaced. They have a relatively short life expectancy in comparison with new items.
  15. Stay with a classic design. Avoid fashion trends as they date easily. Classic is the most widely accepted. But not everyone has to “follow the norm” and some exciting style options are also available for the more adventurous.
  16. Use quality products. If possible, use first grade products where “after-sale” service is readily available. Cheaper products can be useful, but understand the warranties etc.

And … remember the words … “True Beauty Lies Within Simplicity” … so avoid a cluttered / overly busy bathroom.

Window and Cladding Tips:

Windows: Windows are one of the components of your home that are subject to constant wear and tear from both use and exposure to the weather. Over the years, the weather sealing system, the catches and hinges and handles and locks and frame can deteriorate and ultimately fail. And when that happens, it’s time to replace your windows.

Or you may simply decide that it’s time to upgrade to a better look or more security or more functionality … or an eco-friendly product. Or get double-glazing to hold out the winter chills.

Repairs might seem inexpensive, but will not give you the same long-term solution. Replacement is generally more costly, but will ultimately provide cost savings in relation to energy use, make your house more comfortable, add to the visual appeal and probably increase the overall value of your property as well.

There are a number of factors to consider in the repair or replace debate, including:

Window Style – your existing windows may not fit in with the style of your house or give you the features that you want. There may not be enough glass area to provide adequate natural lighting to the living spaces, or too much glass so it creates heat retention issues. Or you may want a door where a window currently is, or vice versa.

Heating and Ventilation – the glass component of your windows accounts for a large portion of heat loss or heat gain in your home. Energy efficient double-glazing can reduce the heat movement considerably and help you to have better control over ventilation and temperature control.

Moisture – Traditional timber windows often deteriorate due to moisture problems, which will not necessarily go away if you install new units. In fact, moisture may even get worse, due to reduced air leakage, so you need to think about the sources of moisture when considering changing windows.

Components and Hardware – the components of windows wear out over time. Seals fail, catches and swing arms stop working properly, and damaged screens or other hardware are common problems. In addition, older hardware and/or design may not offer much security.

So, do you repair what you have, upgrade it, or completely replace with new windows? Should you go for wooden windows or aluminium ones or uPVC, or a combination product? Should they be single or double glazed? Do they open in part or in whole? Does the glass need to be strengthened or coloured?

Lots of important things for you to consider. And we can help you with all these questions.

Weatherboards & Other Exterior Cladding: Exterior weatherboards and other types of cladding are expected to protect your home from the elements, while providing an attractive visual effect. They are part of the overall weather-tightness system that must prevent rain, hail, wind, sleet and snow from penetrating the building and causing moisture and other damage.

Exterior finishes therefore must be durable enough to resist normal expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, minor impacts from people and objects that can occur from everyday activities and premature deterioration from sunlight or weather exposure. Replacing damaged exterior wall finishes will help protect your home, preserve the durability and structure, make it more attractive and potentially add value.

So, what can go wrong with the exterior cladding of you home? Some problems are common to all exterior finishes while others are specific to a particular material or cladding system.

Unwanted water is the source of many problems. Moisture can penetrate the wall due to roofing problems, damaged or missing flashings over or under windows or at the base of walls, problems where the wall has been penetrated for pipes or wires, or as a result of the failure of the actual exterior cladding or paintwork.

Exterior cladding can also suffer because of incorrect fastening or overall support, or problems with the underlying building paper or membranes. Sometimes the product themselves simply fail due to design issues … like with the 1980’s product Weatherside which was recalled by Carter Holt Harvey. It simply needs to be replaced as it will continue to deteriorate.

Weatherboards or other wood cladding may suffer paint failure, or splitting or rotting of the wood itself. Metal or vinyl cladding may suffer from aging, fading, rust, cracks or dents, and even buckling. Masonry or concrete solutions can also have problems such as white, chalky stains, crumbling mortar, cracked or loose bricks or sections, or the exterior layer breaking off or flaking. And if you have a stucco or other plaster or spray-on finish then over time you may find cracks and loose or damaged areas.

They all present their own issues … and solutions. So talk to us and we can help remedy the issues.

Fence & Gate Tips:

Boundary fences and internal fences. Solid timber or trellis or sheet panelling fences. 1 metre high or 3metres high. We can help you design and build the right fence for your property.

Whether you are looking for a little more privacy, protection from the wind or rain, a better defined boundary line, or simply a more secure home, you can have a fence which will not only achieve all you want, but also adds a touch of style and finesse as well.

A good fence not only provides the functional aspects like security & privacy, it also helps to make your home’s outdoor areas more attractive, and adds a stylish definition of your outdoors area. And … a well-designed, visually attractive and correctly constructed fence also adds value to your home.

In addition, replacing an old-style dilapidated, creaky, doesn’t-really-stay-closed gate with a more contemporary design can potentially add to the value to your home, contribute to the street appeal, look better and more satisfying visually, improve your privacy, improve security and reduce road noise as well.

So … go with that new fence and gate. The effect can be quite dramatic. Remember though, there are height rules, and if you exceed them you will need to apply for Building Consent.

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