This blog post has been a long time in the making and, just a warning, it is quite a long post! The building process took a good five months (including a 3 week break by the builders over Christmas), so I took many, many progress photos. I also took a few videos to document the process, so if you haven’t followed along with us on our Instagram stories, go check them out after you’ve read the blog.
It all began back in June 2017 when I contacted Tracey Thompson-Gray, a senior architect at Architecture HDT. With three teenage daughters we were fast out-growing our modest little three bedroom/one bathroom bungalow. Mark and I had spent months searching for a bigger house, but didn’t find anything that ticked all our boxes. We had been spoilt by our current location, where we had lived for 11 years, with it’s corner site, all day sun, views over the Botanical Gardens and out to sea, and close proximity to work, school, family & friends. We finally decided to stay put and to add a master extension onto our existing home, which meant all three girls would finally have their own bedroom, and Mark and I would have our own bathroom - Hallelujah!
We worked with Tracey and Courtney at Architecture HDT. Our brief was to retain the view out over the Gardens, and I wanted a walk-in wardrobe. We didn’t have a lot of room to play with as the extension took the house right out to our fence and boundary, but the large window and French doors opening onto our deck give the small room a light, airy feeling despite the lack of space. We were very happy with Tracey and Courtney’s plan, which involved stealing a bit of room from our old bedroom for the shower, and losing a small portion of our deck.
Anyone that has built or renovated a home will know how much waiting time is involved before you start actually building. Once the plans were drawn up, submitted to Council, approved, the builder was chosen (after receiving several quotes), it was November 2018 before demo began. The boarded up window (below) was our old bedroom, and the extension would push straight out to the fence in front.
Boys seem to love demolition but it was my least favourite time. Lot of destruction, mess and noise! But it wasn’t long before piles, bearers and floor went down.
It starts to get exciting when the framing goes up and you can see rooms start to form.
Our builder, Paul of Bay Carpenters, worked alongside a small team from Davcon, who were brilliant. It was awesome coming home at the end of the day to see what they’d achieved. Once the weatherboards started going on and the doors and windows installed we could see Tracey and Courtney’s drawings coming to life.
After the framing goes up the electrician and plumber get to work. It’s really important to be super organised and have your bathroom fittings and fixtures ahead of time so your plumber knows where everything will go. Also, in our case we were having a hidden toilet cistern, so our builder needed to put the wall studs etc in.
You’ll also need to know what kind of lighting you want and where. We were having wall lights either side of the vanity mirror, so I needed to know the size of my mirror and where my vanity would be so we could get the wiring in the right spot. In the wardrobe I had worked out where I wanted plugs for the iron, hairdryer, electric toothbrush well before the framing went in.
HOT TIP: Let your builder know if you have want any extra dwangs (a horizontal bracing piece used between wall studs or floor joists) put in before the gib goes on. This is so when you’re hanging heavy mirrors or art you know there will be something solid to nail/drill into. We also add dwangs for curtain rod fixings when we want the curtains hung extra high. Take a photo with your measuring tape so you can refer back to it when the walls are up.
We clad the back bedroom wall in HardieGroove™ Lining and wrapped it around to the wardrobe/ensuite entrance. I love the subtle texture it adds and it’s in keeping with other areas of our bungalow home.
Two of my favourite things in the extension can be found in the ensuite. I knew I wanted a built-in shelf in the shower, as opposed to a shower niche. It was only a slight headache for the builder who had to make sure it was strong enough for use without jeopardising the waterproofing and tiles.
The other thing was our decision to install a skylight over the shower. This is a game-changer, as far as I’m concerned, and I will now want to put one in every shower I design. Natural light is an interior designer’s best friend but you don’t necessarily want windows in a shower for obvious privacy reasons.
Another thing we always try to do when designing bathrooms is to position the toilet in a discreet area so it’s not on display as you enter the room. In our ensuite we have a nib wall and the toilet is hidden behind it.
Mark did all the painting himself. My father-n-law, Peter, is a retired painter so Mark has learnt from the best.
Because we were putting carpet in the new bedroom we made the decision to re-carpet the whole house while we were at it with beautiful Cavalier Bremworth wool carpet from Hutchinsons. The old carpet was 10 years old and had lived through our kids’ toddler years - it was time! But, although we knew we wanted to carpet the hall and bedrooms we loved the idea of exposing the beautiful original floorboards in the living areas. It’s the Northern side of the house and the family room has large bi-fold doors meaning it gets a lot of sun and indoor/outdoor foot traffic. The only problem was a square of particle board smack bang in the middle of the two living rooms where an old fireplace had once been.
Luckily for us, Nick from Davcon, is an absolute craftsman! Paul had removed some floorboards from our old bedroom right back at the demo stage in preparation for this. Nick spent two days meticulously laying these boards into that square, staggering them so they merged seamlessly with the existing boards.
Nick did the most amazing job, we can’t see where the square of particle board used to be. Both rooms have large rugs in them so the only exposed part of flooring is where he worked.
I’ll take you through a few ‘before & afters’ now so you can see the finished extension, and give a few ‘shout outs’ to those who helped us.
The wardrobe was also designed by me and built by Sydaz joinery.
This extension has made a massive difference to our family and how we live. We don’t have a huge house, but now, it’s just right. Everyone has their own space and two bathrooms between the five of us is so much better than one. Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this project. Phase two will be the deck outside our bedroom, so watch out for that mini makeover come Summer time.