Meet Gina Ciancio :: Editor of Style Curator
I recently discovered Gina’s stylish black and white inspired space of the web at Style Curator and was lucky enough to meet her in the flesh at Pro Blogger 2015.
Demolition of her ex-guvvie asbestos lined house commenced in September 2014 – so naturally we’re on the same page (you guessed it). And to top it off, Gina’s hubby is also a qualified builder who is project managing and constructing their dream home in Canberra.
Best part is they’re almost ready to move in (yeah) and have been kind enough to share their new home build experience.
Welcome Gina. Had you contemplated renovating the existing asbestos home? And what was your reasoning to demolish and start a new build from scratch?
The original house was so hideous when we purchased it – hot peach feature walls and matching peach kitchen, bottle green cornice, old mission brown carpet throughout the house, chunky spotlights, and the list of interior decorating crimes continued – so renovating when we moved in was a must.
We pulled out all the old flooring (carpet, cork and vinyl) and replaced with large stone-look porcelain tiles. The bizarre exterior spotlights inside the home were replaced with simple down lights, and we applied a fresh coat of paint in Haymes Marble Mist which opened up the whole house.
These basic renos and a few other touch ups were enough to make the house liveable for a few years.
When we returned from living a year in the UK, I felt it was time to redo the kitchen and bathroom (there’s only so long you can handle a peach kitchen!). Despite having friends who could help us with mates rates, it was still a significant cost. And even with these improvements, we wouldn’t have resolved the other issues such as leaking plumbing, poor electrical, and lack of insulation.
After a lot of ummmming and ahhhhing about whether to do further renovations or just save our money, Bruno had the idea to knock down our house and rebuild along with a second dwelling we could rent. I was a little hesitant about the idea – thinking it was a high risk project and questioning whether we could pull it off – but agreed and haven’t regretted that decision at all!
Can you kindly paint the process you took prior to demolition, such as what pre-planning work was required? Do you have any advice on how to streamline this process to maximise efficiencies for our readers?
Firstly we found an architect. Rob Henry is a talented Canberran architect who recently received the Malcolm Moir and Heather Sutherland Award for Residential Architecture. As soon as we saw his work, we knew he was the one!
He quickly came up with concept sketches that made great use of the block and nailed our brief. After a little bit of tweaking, he finalised the designs and it was time to get started with all the dreaded approvals.
Fortunately Rob liaised directly with ACT Planning on our Development Application (DA). He supplied all the relevant paperwork included full set of design drawings, surveyor report, landscape plans and more. During the approval process, it went out to neighbourhood consultation and thankfully there were no objections so after a couple of months, we were approved!
While this building approval was underway, Bruno and I arranged bank loan approval and he begun arranging trades for the build.
To streamline the pre-build process, I suggest:
- finding a good architect (or draftsman if budget restricts) who can understand your brief and deliver a winning design
- calculating what you can spend on the build and being realistic about this with the architect (being sure to allow at least a 20% buffer) – there’s no point in getting a ‘Grand Design’ home approved if you can only afford to build the garage!
- organising bank approval and keeping on top of when the approval might lapse so you can extend it without having to reapply
- understanding the design approval process or finding someone you trust who can do this on your behalf
- find a good builder or reliable trades if you’re going to project manage (speak to people who have used them) so you can hit the ground running!
Can you share how you went about your styling selections for the home and any advice you have on choosing cohesive fixtures and fittings.
This was tricky because I had the lucky problem of too many options! As we were building the house ourselves, we weren’t restricted to choosing from a builder’s selections list.
I knew I needed to work out my style early because I love many different looks. If I just picked things I liked as I went, I probably would have ended up with a hot mess of all these beautiful things that just didn’t work together. To avoid this issue, I turned my dining room wall into a giant mood board where I could collect and curate my ideas. I decided on my colour palette (black, white, grey with accents of marble and timber) and style (contemporary with a hint of luxe).
Creating a mood board helps you play around with looks without having to commit and get a feel for what works together.
What has been the best and most rewarding part of designing and building your own dream home alongside your hubby?
Seeing this project go from some ideas on paper to a near-finished home that’s just right for us!
What were the main areas in your home where you were able to save on costs and DIY?
As we subcontracted many of the trades, we were able to keep costs down by only having them do the skilled work that we couldn’t do ourselves. For example, with the site cut we were able to work with the excavator operator to help him with his levels and set out which saved him having to bring his own labourer. We also ran the drains (Bruno’s dad is an experienced drainer), did the form work for the slab and helped the concreters pour the slab, put the insulation in, hung plasterboard sheets, waterproofed the bathrooms (Bruno is a qualified waterproofer) and lots of other jobs like this throughout the build to save.
A small tip is to regularly clean the site to save having to get a bobcat in for a major clean up at the end.
What is your best piece of advice for our readers looking to tackle their own new build? (Such as Owner Builders etc).
Be prepared, be patient and have a huge budget and time buffer (and a buffer for the buffer). Get ready to get your hands dirty and don’t let trades push you around.
All pictures supplied by Style Curator.
Happy planning and owner building DIYers.
I’ve also just launched my new Mood Board e-Service offering you an introductory price if $75 per room, per board if you’re needing a helping hand.
So tell us, what’s your favourite part of planning your own build?