Sunday, February 27, 2011


Perhaps you are thinking about renovating.  Perhaps you are just considering an add-on.  Perhaps you’ve lost your freaking mind.  That’s why I am here. Simply to give you a few points to consider.  From someone who is completely fucking over it – renovating that is.  Here are a few tips.


As documented, we sold and moved from an oh, 5 year old house that needed for nothing, into a 50 year old shitbox.  To be fair, the market was high, we were panicking and we were living with our in-laws.  It was mental times.   That’s not to say I didn’t do my research.  I had dragged 3 kids (one 3 months old) through countless homes in 35 degree heat with no air-con in the car and I had seen renovators dream after renovators dream.  All felt wrong and frankly, stinky.  I was running out of patience and to be honest, sweat glands. 


That’s when through the loss of my mobile phone, a crazy message left on another mobile phone and a band of blue beads came into play.  See, Phil was at work, I decided to do the open houses and let him know which, if any, he should come and have a look at.  Unfortunately, I put my phone on the roof of the car, drove off and ran over it after the second inspection.  I then, had to use a public phone booth and because the number wasn’t recognised, Phil did not pick up the call.  I left a message to tell him where I would be at 1pm.  Be there or be square. 


As it turns out, this was a private deceased estate.  House that had a really low reserve, really close to the water and they really just wanted their cut.  Apparently Hazel had lived the good life of orange shag pile carpet and shower leaks and had carked it in the house somewhere.  I wholeheartedly believe she is still here, just as an aside.


Anyway, this particular day, they were firesale-ing all of Hazels stuff and doing a joint open for inspection.  Maddie fell in love with some of Hazels old blue beads.  As for the house?  Well I did a walk through and thought, meh, too small, too much work, just too much too.  We secured the beads and walked out to see Phil waiting across the road. Seems he’d gotten the message.


He said he’d take a look.  And I started to see it through his eyes.  Rip up the shagpile, put down some timber floors, re-do the (one bathroom), build another level up, put in a pool, fuck we redesigned that baby in 15 minutes.  Ahh, so what the built-ins would not even take my work clothes, pah, who cares, we were on a renovation revolution.  We made them offer 30 minutes later.  And then slept uncomfortably all night, doing our best impression of a prayer, hoping old Hazel's crazy kids picked us.  They counter offered and before you knew it we were the proud owners of the hardest house on earth to renovate.  Well done Morleys.


So:  Here’s a few tips from someone who’s been blinded by the light and no longer sees rainbows.


Never ever, ever, ever, ever, buy a house with only one toilet.  I don’t care who you are, how many people are in your family, one toilet is never adequate.  Sure, I’m married to a plumber, but that doesn’t mean he could wack up a second toilet where there was no basic infrastructure.  There was a constant line up for that toilet and more than once, emergency provisions had to be mocked up in the back yard.  I am not talking about number ones here.


Forget the hot tradesman fantasy.  Just forget it.  There will be no Desperate Housewives scenario with a hot guy wanting to have his way with you on the freshly laid tiles.  Reality: He will be an old fat hairy guy who turns up too early and cops an eyeful of you in your pj's minus support bra. 


Do not try and DIY.  No, you are not a fucking plasterer.  OK.  You are just not.  You also do not know how to kill termites yourself.  As evidenced when Phil decided to bring them into the house in the trailer to try and eradicate them with a blow torch and bug spray.  Call the exterminator.  Or the fire brigade.


Borrow more money than you think.  Seriously.  Whatever you think it is going to cost you, double it.  We had huge ideas about what we would do with this place. Then we got a few quotes.  Even though we are lucky enough to do a fair bit ourselves, the compounding costs just blow you out of the water. 


Get used to going to bed with the shits with each other.  Our worst day was the white on white day.  Let me explain.  We both decided the roof colour and the render colour.  We did the colour test and it looked tops.  So the day we both arrived home from work at the same time and found we lived in a Greek Palace, aka white on white, we both got ridiculously angry at one another.  To be fair, this was just compounded by the fact we had gotten the bill for the addition which was double what we had been quoted and I was more than likely sick of having to play toilet roulette. 

Last but not least do not make friends with the people in your street.  Oh, unless you never want to leave.  Initially we were meant to come in, renovate the shit out of the place and be gone a year later.  Flip it and do it all over again.  That was the plan Stan.  There were factors, sicknesses, deaths, diagnosis of behaviours etc etc that led to us getting a little distracted, but to be honest it was the street.  We stopped renovating and started socialising and loving our neighbours.   The days of wallpaper removal got replaced with days of indoor cricket and pool parties. 


So there you go, my few tips on how to successfully avoid being a shit renovator.  We are only two or three jobs from finishing this sucker.  And then, because we want to move onto a desirable suburb, we will buying the worst house in the best street AGAIN.  One thing I can promise you, no matter how shit the house, there will be two toilets.  That much I do know.


Twitchy said...

Oh Bern, I hear you. We are in the midst of a saga ourselves. After 3 years hovel squatting, we've just RE-signed a rental lease for a second year, as we attempt to complete the actual stupidest plan in the book: convince council we need to do full demo and rebuild in heritage overlay. Oh yes we diiid. How we still have our sanity and are still together is truly a wonder. Still borderline homicidal though. And yes, there *will* be posts forthcoming. Several, in fact. Power to you, Morleys.

Lucy said...

Oh Bern. Each & every one, I am nodding. And only you can commentate like that and make the mad so funny...


4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

Bern, you are hysterical. I seriously want pictures of the white on white. I agree with Lucy.

Once again, an absolute cracker.


bigwords is... said...

I can so identify with you. We have just finished renovating our first home and am about to start looking for our next worst house in best street. If we can even afford that one!! We also threw in three babies while renovating - so completely understand the dirty old tradesmen (this time with boobs out breastfeeding) and squatting outside eight months pregnant, trying to balance and not fall over in my wee. well done on getting through it - good luck with the next project!! Love this post x

Kylie L said...

Ah, Bern. We bought our house 16 years ago. I can say, hand in heart, that we finished renovating it LAST FRIDAY, when the painters doing the final rooms left. Actually, I would say that but have since realised that the exterior badly needs painting now- that was the first thing we did 16 years ago. Does one ever finish renovating??

Madmother said...

Hah, this one I understand. Different perspective, but understand.

I think you should look at some mountain fresh air next. Lot's of do-er upperers here!

Maxabella said...

Groan, Bern. We want to add another bathroom upstairs at our place and I was already dreading the thought and now I am DREADING THE THOUGHT. x

In Real Life said...

Too funny! You are absolutely right!

MaidInAustralia said...

Yep, one toilet is shit. Erm, or not. As the case may be. We once lived in a narrow, tall place with one toilet at the top of the freaking stairs. And both kids always needed to poo at exactly the same time.

Denwise aka Denyse Whelan said...

The best thing is the neighbors and the 'hood.
Worst thing is no 2nd toilet.

C'mon Phil.. Just one more .. You ARE in the shit-bizz!

Tai Tai said...

There is nothing nice about one toilet, I completely agree. We've just moved into a 2 bathroom place for just the two of us and I give you the hot tip, I'm never going back. I think one toilet per person should be the golden rule. Classic post x

Thea said...

Hearin' ya!!!!!!!
And guess who has one toilet....oh yeah!

Veggie Mama said...

Oh god, only one toilet...

River said...

White on white? Well at least it won't fade...
Always go for two or more toilets.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Never had two toilets until we moved in to our current home (in 2001). With kids, I don't how we'd get away with only one! Often, we'd benefit from having three!

Sage advice here, Bern.

(Oh and BTW - absolutely SPOT ON about the tradesmen. ;) )

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