The last few weeks have involved lots of design discussions and a now a possible big shift in direction, which I’ve become quite excited about. Because the original house isn’t a great floor plan our plans have always involved keeping the front three rooms only and demoliting everything else, with the rest of the house to be a new build. We always knew the floor plan of our house wasn’t ideal, with the bathroom right in the middle of the entrance hall, but we mostly bought it for the land and the location (as I’ve discussed before, you can change the house but you can’t change the location.)
Here’s the original floor plan. We bought the house before it went to market so they never drew up a proper floor plan, but as you can see, the bathroom and kitchen are not ideally positioned and the front rooms aren’t huge.
In our latest design meeting our architect showed us two plans, both which met the brief of what we wanted and we were happy with. However, he then mentioned he had a third option to show us. “If it’s more expensive don’t show it to me,” I said, knowing that of course I would like that one more but that we were already at our limit.
“Actually, it’s cheaper,” he said. “But first, answer me a question. What do you love about the house?”
Curious as to where he was going with this I replied, “Well, I love the block, the street, the location, the lovely trees and feeling of peacefulness and that it’s zoned for good schools,” I began.
“But what do you love about the house?” he asked again.
I had to think about that. Because, while the house was OK and had enough potential to achieve what we wanted, it definitely wasn’t my dream house. That’s because whenever I found my dream house, with my dream block, in my dream location, it never met my dream budget! I liked the stone frontage, but the exterior was a bit of a mish mash of styles and the layout was pokey. It wasn’t the heritage federation villa I still hope to own one day, but I knew we could make it look great with the right design. So I eventually replied that I didn’t really love the house, but that it had the potential to be good with the right renovation.
“Seeing as that is how you answered, I have one more option for you,” he said, mysteriously, bringing out another plan.
“How about we knock it down and start again?”
This kind of caught me by surprise. We had always thought we would do a renovation and had bought the house with that in mind, but funnily enough, just the day before I had said to Phil “I almost think it would be easier to knock it down and start again.” This was after driving down the street and noticing that all the best houses on the street were new builds. There is a real mix on the street of new and renovated houses, so a new build certainly wouldn’t look out of place. And as the house isn’t heritage there wouldn’t be an issue with approvals.
The designer then presented us with some drawings and a budget, and much to my amazement it was CHEAPER. And BIGGER! He went on to explain that due to the high cost of fixing things during a renovation it would actually end up being cheaper to build a totally new house, with the added benefit that we would get exactly what we want, with no compromises to suit the original floor plan. Everything would be new, under warranty and without the ongoing maintenance of an old house.
I have to admit, those were a lot of pluses. But there was only one negative, I don’t really like new houses! I love the character of old homes, the slightly worn feel, the detailed cornices instead of square set, the imperfectness over the shiny and new.
The plans he had presented us had a fantastic floor plan, but the exterior just felt to…already done. When I mentioned this he came in quickly and said that we could have any exterior we wanted, we didn’t have to stick to a federation replica.
Now this really got me thinking and I quickly felt my excitement grow. “Could I have a Hamptons style weatherboard?” I asked.
“Of course!” he replied. And that is when my mind started to furiously tick over. Now that sounded exciting.
What do you think, should we make the old house work or knock it down and start again? There is lots to consider, but I am feeling pretty damn excited about the potential of a blank canvas now!