If you’re considering a renovation, the first thing to look at is whether the house has good bones, Create + Construct’s Clint Lockwood says. If a house doesn’t have good bones, the chances of achieving the best outcome with a renovation are limited. “This is often something people don’t want to accept because they see the cost of rebuilding and it puts them off, but if a house doesn’t have good bones there isn’t much point designing a renovation as it will end up being cost prohibitive.”

Then there’s the issue of orientation and layout, and in most cases traditional villas and bungalows aren’t orientated to the sun so there are areas of the house that are dark and lacking in light. “The ability to adapt the layout needs to be there too. This isn’t always possible, particularly if there are a lot of load bearing walls, for example.”

Most commonly, this is the case with houses that have concrete tile roofs as it is a heavy roofing material compared to iron roofing. “Concrete tile roofs have posts that bear down onto the load bearing walls so when you go to open an area up or adapt a floor plan, structural beams can be required, which can have an influence the budget and time of a project,” Clint says. "This can, however, be well worth the investment if the desired outcome can be achieved."

It’s these two things in particular that are the most important to consider when embarking on a renovation design, and they’re both things that benefit from having both architect and builder engaged from the early stages.

“While people often want to get the job priced from two or three builders later in the piece, that isn’t always the best way because they lose that communication and experience from the outset. A good builder will be able to give an accurate idea of costs from the outset, which means the design can be tailored to budgetary requirements more easily. Services, too, is something people often don’t factor into a budget from the outset and is something a builder is able to estimate early on.”

That could mean upgrading the electrical system, drainage or plumbing in line with the additional use of modern appliances and extension of the home. “The best renovations are the ones where the client has engaged a designer and builder early on and there is open and honest communication from the start. In this way, the best results can be achieved.

“With renovations, we always recommend to clients that there is a realistic contingency fund within the budget, especially for older houses.” That’s because, Clint says, there are often issues that arise only once the project is underway in old houses such as rot or areas requiring upgrading. “We recommend people have a 15 – 20 per cent contingency in their budget. Anything can cause additional cost and often these are unforeseen. A project we’ve done recently, for example, had flooring that was 40mm out of level across two metres, which took a carpenter a week to sort out.”

For Clint and the Create + Construct team, the best types of renovations are ones that preserve the vernacular architecture of Auckland. “For me, being able to retain the original character yet paired with the luxuries of modern style and comfort is what makes a successful renovation,” Clint says.

While this can raise the cost of a renovation, the end result is well worth it. “This can mean keeping native timber flooring, installing colonial-style architraves and skirting and timber joinery. They’re all more expensive but they allow for the original character to be preserved. That’s not to say that a cedar-box addition won’t work, this can be thoughtfully designed to extend existing small footprints but our passion lies in renovating character homes."

 

“Auckland has so many stunning houses around, especially the beautiful, very elegant villas. It’s always great to see when someone has put the effort in to maintain and upgrade these old homes.”

 

Create + Construct are based in Westmere, Auckland and specialise in the renovation of luxury homes. Visit Create + Construct on ArchiPro here to see some of their stunning renovations around Auckland.