A well thought through renovation turned a dark apartment into a light and open space.
WORDS Stephanie Matheson PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of Ray White Kohimarama
With their four children out of the house, Steve and Carmela decided it was time to downsize. They exchanged their long-standing family house for an apartment. Offering plenty of space at 240 square metres as well as views straight out to the sea, it was the ideal choice for the lifestyle they were after. However, it needed a total makeover to modernise the layout and décor.
“We got Refresh Renovations involved and they did a fantastic job,” says Steve. “We took the whole apartment back to its bare bones – all the walls came out. We found that there wasn’t a square corner in the apartment. Also, the balcony drained towards the apartment and not away from it! We redid all this and replaced the windows with double glazed ones. So effectively we rebuilt the whole apartment.”
To ensure a smooth renovation process, a lot of time and effort went into the planning phase. Buildology generated a 3D render of the new layout and how the different rooms would look. Steve explains: “I knew exactly what I wanted and checked that none of the internal walls were load bearing before I bought. The 3D render cost around $2,500 and I think it was money really well spent as I could see exactly what things would look like.” The plans were altered three or four times to ensure the concept was spot on. They then formed the basis for the building work.
I’ve done a few renovations and it’s never been as easy as with Refresh
Refresh Renovations created an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area with a stunning view out towards Rangitoto. Separate rooms and hallways gave way to a set of double doors leading straight into the new open-plan space. The guest bathroom was modernised and a new en-suite and walk-in wardrobe were built to replace the second bathroom and laundry. This provided Steve and Carmela with an extra large double-ended shower that is 2.3 metres wide and 1.1 metres deep.
As with most renovations, some unforeseen issues surfaced once work was underway. Steve says: “We found that the plumbing had old plumbing connections that were beyond their lifespan, so we had to replumb the apartment.” The deck was leaking and water actually seeped inside on windy days. Hence, the original waterproofing had to be redone.
A far bigger challenge, however, was the fact that one of the steel portals, which was supposed to structurally support part of the house, was missing. “It was on the plan but the house hadn’t been built properly,” says Steve. “It was good that we used Refresh Renovations – he spotted it.” Refresh Renovations adds: “We discovered that the portal had been cut in half when we took down ceiling linings in the kitchen area. There was in fact nothing supporting that part of the house and we found that the outside walls had been leaning out by about 30 millimetres already. We installed a new steel portal as per the recalculations by the engineer. It had to be delivered in four pieces and welded on site due to access limitations.”
From a building point of view, one of the main challenges with an apartment renovation like this one is access to the site. Refresh explains: “We had to carefully plan how we would dispose of rubbish and debris, and also how we would get building materials into the house. Then there were waterproofing issues because we worked on the deck above another apartment. And finally, we had to consider the neighbours who were living underneath the apartment.”
Steve had been concerned about the noise and disruption the renovation would cause. “But our neighbours found the builders fantastic and considerate,” he says. “That really pleased me. We didn’t even scaffold the building; Refresh Renovations used a cherry picker. It made my life easy and we’re on really good terms with our neighbours.”
To finish the renovation off, Refresh completed a full repaint in a neutral colour scheme. Vivo kitchen units were installed, along with mosaic tiles and LED lighting under the central kitchen island. “I’ve done a few renovations and it’s never been as easy as with Refresh,” Steve laughs. “I don’t think there’s anything I would do differently – everything turned out exactly as I wanted it.” He is now living in the apartment with his wife, enjoying the sea view and the close proximity to the local shops.
Expert Advice on Apartment makeovers
Refresh Renovations shares tips on renovating an apartment or flat:
- Usually, apartment renovations are all about utilising small spaces. For example, services can be hidden in walls or wardrobes. Many features of the building cannot be changed, including services such as elevators and sewer and water pipes (mains). These are features that you have to work with and this needs careful planning.
- Access is often limited and materials storage can be an issue. You may have to have a container on site or allow for more deliveries, which will incur extra freight charges.
- Some materials can be carried up, but for larger building materials you may need to use a crane and lift them in through windows or doors. Scaffolding can be an option, but it can interfere with the neighbours and with driveways. Cherry pickers are often a good alternative.
- Noise can be an issue for the neighbours. There are also body corporates to be considered, along with their specifications and design rules.
- An open-plan layout is often a great way of creating the perception of more space. Separate guest toilets and walk-in closets are popular features if there is enough room for them. It’s definitely worth spending time and money on the kitchen and bathrooms as these really make a huge difference to most people.
- If you’re thinking about resale, be aware of not overcapitalising. Have your figures in mind and don’t spend money where you don’t need to. Invest in things that help with resale such as adding a nice kitchen bench top (but choosing mid range cupboards), installing decent vanities or basins and adding a new coat of (neutral!) paint.
Have a look at our Refresh case study in Auckland An excavation that allowed us to extend a home and create open-plan living spaces.
This case study by Stephanie Matheson featured in Issue 005 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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