Extending and updating a single-storey 1980s home in Russell Vale, NSW

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refresh renovations house extension in Russell Vale

The team at Refresh Renovations Illawarra had some challenges to overcome during the extension of this 1980's home.

Before After
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When property owner Liz decided to extend her 1980s home and create a new ensuite for her front bedroom, she knew there would be challenges. There was an alcove between the bedroom and the front of the house, but turning it into usable space meant reconfiguring the entrance to the home and the build would require at least 600 bricks. This was a problem as the home’s original red brickwork was a feature of the home, but the bricks were no longer in circulation.
The other issue was that although the builder she had contacted provided a quote within her budget of $75,000, it didn’t include her choice of finishes.
The challenges of the brief didn’t deter Refresh Renovations Illawarra who visited Liz at her home and said they could create the seamless addition she wanted with the finishes she had set her heart on.

I had a picture in my head of what I wanted and that’s exactly what I got. I’m very happy

Brick by brick

As luck would have it, the original owners of the property had kept all the documents and certificates relating to the original build. They had also stored 600 surplus bricks that could be used to help create the addition.
Refresh was delighted to hear there were some original bricks but knew they would probably need more than 600 for the build and that reusing the bricks from the wall they took down would be vital.
‘The most challenging aspect of the job was salvaging the bricks; we couldn’t break any. We had to be very meticulous and take them out one at a time and make sure they were salvaged clean and intact. The original owners had stored 600 of the original bricks, which meant that, with the bricks we’d salvaged, we had enough to build the new addition, and then we found another 200 under the house. That was just sheer blind luck,’ says the renovation specialist.

Creating a modern bathroom

With the exterior build completed and a new front door in place, the renovation specialists turned their attention to creating the ensuite. Liz had a very clear idea of what she wanted and the Refresh Renovations team made sure they met the brief. Liz chose Highgrove Bathrooms’ Eden wall hung matte white vanity with a timber countertop, complemented with black bathroom accessories. The charcoal and white tiles came from Beaumont Tiles.
‘I love the bathroom,’ says Liz. ‘I had a picture in my head of what I wanted and that’s exactly what I got. I’m very happy.’
Liz’s renovation was completed on budget and slightly ahead of schedule. The renovation specialist says she’s proud of what they were able to achieve and that good planning was the key to their success.

A seamless house extension

‘We planned everything well before we started. We had good trades and they all knew exactly when they were coming and how long they had to complete their part of the job. Managing them well meant we were able to finish a little bit earlier.’
With another successful renovation behind them, the renovation specialist says one of the highlights of the project was the building inspector not being able to tell where the original home ended and the new addition began.
‘He had to ask us where the extension was. He really couldn’t spot where the original brickwork ended and the extension brickwork began, so we knew we’d done a good job.’

For Liz, it was a stress-free renovation that delivered everything she wanted.
"It was great working with Refresh. They were really friendly and approachable and patient when I changed my mind. When they said they’d do something, they did it, which made the whole process very easy."

You may also be interested in reading Bathroom and kitchen transformation in West Wollongong, NSW


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This project was completed in
November 2018
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Project description
Create a contemporary ensuite + including re-configuring the entrance of the home
Project duration
11 weeks
Cost estimate
Actual cost
Finding enough original bricks to complete the project.
Interesting aspects
The Guardian 2-in-1'?door - so you can see outside and enjoy natural light and fresh air when the door is closed.
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