When a Passion for Renovating Meets a Growing Family

South Turramurra Home Addition

Sometimes you look at a home and you’d never know it’s been renovated.

That was the goal of homeowner Lisa when she decided to add more space to her South Turramurra home… and she is delighted with the result.

Adding a second storey was, surprisingly, the latest of four renovations to her 1950s bungalow.

As well as adding two large bedrooms, a bathroom and living space for her twins, she carved out more storage, an office and further improved the flow of the home.

Previous Renovations

The previous owner had extended out the back in 2000 – well before Lisa bought the home in 2009 – with a conservatory that she diplomatically describes as “not the greatest addition”.

After the purchase, Lisa carried out two further improvements.

“I decided to move the kitchen from one side to the other to create greater flow,” she explains, “because the previous owner created a walkway down the side of the house. It meant you had to go through the living room to get to the kitchen to get to the back area of the house – not ideal.”

“The second was to create a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite to the main bedroom, adding a second bathroom by reclaiming some of the garage.”

A New Plan

Her third and most recent renovation is the biggest.

As Lisa’s twin children fast approached teenagehood, she realised their home wasn’t giving them all the space they needed.

Going up was, in the end, the solution, but not the only option she considered.

“I had thought about buying a new home, and I attended a lot of open inspections to see what else is in the area, but I soon realised that I’d get much more bang for buck by renovating,” she remembers.

“I’m very much a fan of Neale Whitaker and I’m always on his side when I watch Love It or List It,” she adds.

“A lot of the knock-down-rebuilds are amazing, but I didn’t really want to add on to the mortgage that I currently have – I had some wriggle room in the mortgage having been here for 15 years.”

“So I made some decisions and thought about how my home would look if I added a second story. I realised that I could add value as well as creating the right flow and feeling for the house.”

Finding A Builder

Having committed to renovating, next up was to find a builder as well as an architect or designer.

“I reached out to three different builders. The cost was identical for all of them. So that wasn’t the main deciding factor for me. It really became about the partnership or relationship that you would have with your builder. Could I get what I needed from my budget?”

“Before those three, I’d also had some surprises. One builder told me I’d have to pay $20,000 for them to come up with plans, and only then would I be able to discuss whether or not to move forward,” she laments. “That $20,000 wasn’t something that I was going to get back… and that was a recommendation!”

“One of the key drivers for choosing Addbuild for me – it really stood out – was that there was no conversation about outlaying money to begin with.”

Creating a Design

Addbuild’s design consultant Steve came over and listened and then presented Lisa with his initial designs.

“There was a bit of to and fro. He presented me with the first design and I said ‘no, that’s not what I have in mind.’ We went back over the requirements and after that it all came together.”

“I had a strong idea of what I wanted, but I also listened to Steve who, for example, suggested the idea of the snug upstairs,” Lisa recalls, “but with twins it was important to have identical, mirror-image bedrooms, bathroom in the middle, the snug and the stairs going up the middle. And that just worked perfectly.”

“For me, it was also about creating consistency with the existing downstairs. The same look and feel, the same cornices, the same eaves.”

“All of the bathrooms were to have the same wall tiles. I replaced all the doors to ensure they are all consistent. It was important to me to work with someone who’d happily factor in all these sorts of details.”

The Build

Once the design was agreed and Addbuild got the go-ahead, the construction started. Lisa’s most important relationship was then with Building Supervisor John who she immediately warmed to, forging another successful partnership.

“He’s a fun guy to work with, but we did have one major issue. When the roof went on, I realised that they had put the wrong tile on – it wasn’t the colour I’d chosen,” Lisa explains.

“I called John and we soon worked out that the tiler had matched the colour to the existing tiles, but it wasn’t the colour I’d selected. His reasoning was sound – the existing tiles had faded, so he chose a lighter shade – but that wasn’t the point.”

“The biggest problem was – I had to say – the ‘wrong’ tiles did look really good!”

“Everything was resolved to my satisfaction, but it just shows that sometimes the unexpected can happen, and you need to have a builder that owns up to any mistakes and rectifies them, no questions asked. John and Addbuild did that.”

Living Through A Renovation

Lisa and her twins stayed put during the construction, so we wanted to know what the experience had been like.

“It didn’t feel that disruptive really and truly. There’s a lot of dust. There were some worse moments than others,” she confirms. “Addbuild did provide me with a really funny document called This Is Not The Block which helps set your expectations. I’m an avid Block viewer so it was interesting to see where reality TV meets or doesn’t meet real life!”

“I was really impressed with how respectful Addbuild and all the people on site were,” Lisa recalls with praise. “We have a two-and-a-half-year-old dog that is at home, and I was very concerned at the time that he may get out.”

“They were very conscious of making sure I knew when it might be a bit noisy for the dog. They were respectful of the kids in the morning. They were respectful for moving cars, respectful to the neighbours. It was a real joy to work with a company that was thinking about those things. It wasn’t as if I had to keep reminding them. They were asking the right questions.”

The New Space

Having completed the building work late last year, Lisa has had a few months to assess if the results were what she had hoped for.

“We’re all enjoying our new home. Before we felt quite cramped, but now the house feels spacious and the clutter we felt before has gone.”

The biggest change is with her twins.

“The kids are happier to bring their friends home and they have more space to study. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the kids going into year seven – to provide a built-in desk with ample space to do their homework was important,” Lisa notes.

“They’re much quieter up there, they hang out more in their rooms,” Lisa continues. “As soon they moved up, my daughter was like ‘next weekend can I have my friend over for a sleepover?'”

For Lisa, the space has also helped her productivity.

“I work from home two days a week. I could’ve continued to work on the dining room table as many people do. It’s been a luxury to spread out and have an actual office now.”

Any downsides?

“Yes, there’s an extra bathroom to clean! The kids haven’t reached the stage where they are jumping in to help with those sorts of things!”

Recommending Addbuild

We realise that a fifth modification to this home is unlikely, but would Lisa recommend Addbuild to friends and family?

“Absolutely, I have already recommended Addbuild to friends. I liked the fact that they create a really good partnership with the right conversations. I felt listened to at all times and treated with respect, which is important to me. It’s been a good partnership,” Lisa says in summary.

“They are a good, steady builder. There was an opportunity to go and look around and see the work that they’ve done. When you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to have the right conversations and that always happened.”

“I had used one other builder in the previous renovation who I felt had been just a little bit dismissive of me as a female. The building industry is quite male-dominated. Addbuild are refreshingly different.”

If you’d like to see more pictures and further details about Lisa’s South Turramurra home addition including the new floor plan, visit our project page.

Looking to Renovate?

With more than 2,000 projects completed since 1980, Addbuild is Sydney’s leading home additions and extensions builder, offering a ‘concept-to-completion‘ service that includes experienced renovation design and the management of your Development Application.

We pride ourselves on helping Sydney homeowners turn the home they love into their forever dream home.

Call our office on (02) 8765 1555 or send us a message using our contact form if outside of office hours.

If you are still in the research phase, looking for ideas and advice, feel free to delve into our comprehensive suite of articles about all aspects of renovating or download our free “Consumer Guide to Home Improvement“.