Nicole Cox is the inspiring blogger behind Ipswich home and building blog – The Builders Wife – plus busy business manager to her construction company Fernbrooke Homes and life coach to five kids. (Phew I’m tired just imagining the day-to-day for Nicole, ha).
With no short of extraordinary outputs, Nicole’s efficiencies have led her to recently receive the HIA 2014 women in construction finalist whilst ALSO renovating her grand heritage home in the centre of historic Ipswich. (Oh, I almost forgot to include that minor detail).
I have to ask straight up, how do you find living with a builder?
Interesting: No two days are alike,
Challenging: Every day presents a new challenge,
Handy: There is no handier hubby to have around,
Exhausting: Having a business that you share, means working long hours and often all weekend, and
Thrilling: I get to share this business ride with my best friend.
After viewing your incredible home first hand, can you share with us your top five tips to styling a heritage Queenslander? ('Cause you have the country versus modern touch down pat).
I think when you are fortunate enough to own an old Queenslander, it is most important to let the beautiful features of the home speak for itself. With that in mind:
- Choose classic, though neutral colours. Queenslanders wear colour best when it is used as an accent, not when used as the norm.
- Make the most of the architecture. Queenslanders are built with the hot climate in mind, be sure your windows are not painted shut (something we find in nearly every Queenslander renovation we see) keep in mind the cross ventilation provided by that early architecture, before changing walls.
- Have a mix of old and new pieces. We would have loved to fill our home with antiques, but it wasn’t practical for our family or our budget. All the bigger items in our home are new pieces and we have dotted antique pieces as decoration throughout.
- Consider using fittings in your home that reflect the era the home was built. Again choosing antique fittings for our home was impractical, but we have managed to find taps, and light fittings that are suggestive of the time our home was built.
- Have fun. Your home should still be a reflection of who you are as a person, no matter the age or style of your space.
Do you recommend clients purchase a home from a floor plan range or custom design their dream home?
Great question! There is no blanket answer for this one, what works for me might not work for you. Everything needs to be taken into consideration, what level of service would you like, are you happy to build from a standard plan, level of inclusions, do you need the flexibility to be able to do some parts of your job for yourself?
Essentially if you are happy with a standard plan, the price is within your budget, and you do not require any flexibility, then large project style builders are a great option. If you require flexibility, need to make changes to the standard plan or prefer a higher level of client service, I would always suggest a custom builder.
What are you top pointers for our readers who may be looking to engage a builder to build their home in the next 1-2 years?
Communication is key in the building process. First and foremost, you must be comfortable with your builder and be happy with the level of communication received. Nothing should be too much trouble and communication should be clear and concise as well as being swift. You are given all the answers in the very first meeting with your builder, was the builder on time, if not, were you given an explanation, are you comfortable in their presence, do you feel that the builder was a good listener? If you feel even a twinge of doubt, I would strongly advise looking further.
Practical checks such as licenses and insurance should also be done before signing a contract, such as a QBCC licence search.
You are a huge supporter of women in construction and promote this wholeheartedly via The Builders Wife. What are your future aspirations for women currently in trades or looking to uptake a career?
I’d like to see women having the opportunity and pathways to have the same jobs as men in all facets of the building industry. Right now we are making strong headway, but we still have a while to go, before women are trusted and respected to the same extent men are. Changing of attitudes takes time, patience and understanding for all involved.
Nicole has also recently launched a second business aimed at answering the specific needs of DIYers in her Facebook community Ask The Builder. We’d recommend you check it out.
So tell us DIYers, do you or could you live with a tradie?