Renovating for Growth

Wise men supposedly say that only fools rush in. But when it came to their Bronte home, spontaneity was key for Trudi and Dan. Both teachers in the area, they could not believe their luck six years ago when they stumbled on an advertisement for the property on a real estate website.

“It all happened really quickly,” Dan says. “We saw it online, saw the price range, and thought, ‘they’re tripping, this is so cheap, it can’t be true! We saw it on the Saturday, came back on the Monday and put an offer in,” he says.

Within six months, the couple had begun to renovate, to make the property more liveable for themselves and their three young children. But this was only Stage One, Dan says. Half a decade later, and with the children growing, it was time for Stage Two.

Choosing who to carry out this next wave of renovation was another decision that was easy to make, the couple say.

“As soon as we met the Virtue boys, we were stoked,” Trudy says. “We were like, ‘these are the people we need to do it’. They were just normal people, really nice people, easy to get along with,” she says.

While personality is important, there is more to be considered than just how decent a bunch of blokes your builders are. Trudy and Dan were also appreciative of the professionalism and decency of our team.

“The price was really fair,” Trudy says. “They were honest, and kept within the quote. They finished well and truly before time, and that’s unheard of. I got the vibe that they just rip in, and that’s what you want,” she says.

Trudy and Dan attributed this efficiency to the presence and influence of Mick and Dave on site.

“Both Mick and Dave were involved. It was a perfect relationship,” Dan says. “Either one or the other was here, on site, all the time. It was a pretty sick vibe amongst the crew. I didn’t pick up on there being a hierarchy or anything, they were all in there [working],” he says.

“At times Mick or Dave would rock in with coffee or sandwiches for the boys. They were just really good like that. You could tell that all the boys are just frothers, they just love building. And when they needed heaps of crew on here to get it done, they did.”

It was no small job. The home’s ‘reconfiguration’ as Trudy describes it, involved the addition of a second storey, a new bedroom, bathroom, ensuite, and sitting room/library/media room. The kitchen was also renovated, and bedrooms relocated.

The result is a far more open, light and comfortable home, which provides ample space for its occupants to live and breathe.

The heart of the house – or more accurately, its lungs – is an atrium-like space in the middle of the home, which Trudy calls ‘the void.’ It is now one of the couple’s favourite features, along with the striking, powder coated steel stairway.

“Because it’s such a small house, and the stairs play such a prominent part, we knew we had to make it a feature, without it being too gnarly,” Dan says. “We are pretty pumped on the stairs. They are just beautiful.”

“Just having the extra space, with all the kids… its awesome,” Trudy says.

The couple were also buzzed to have been able to incorporate sustainability into their home, in the form of a solar electricity system. Solar had been something the couple had always wanted in their home, and the renovation was the perfect opportunity.

“I thought, ‘we’re building now, we might as well do it. I spoke to Mick, and he put us on to Gerry from Denby Energy,” Dan says.

“It’s amazing. It’s the best thing we ever did,” Trudy says. “Because we are making money.”

“The battery is built into the system, and you get real-time analytics,” Dan says of the system. Solar power is used to run the home, such as through appliances, with any overflow stored by the battery. Once the battery is full, excess is then fed back into the power grid, which earns the family money.

“Our power cost is maybe a dollar a day. We’ve just come back from three weeks on the north coast, and the house has been making us money while we’re away, just by running the solar,” he says.

“It also makes us a little more conscious with our consumption. Instead of putting the dishwasher on at night, and sucking from the battery, we’ll set it up to on in the morning, when we’re not at home, so it’s running directly from the solar.”

This intelligent, thoughtful approach to electricity demonstrates that both spontaneity and forethought have a part to play in the evolution of a family home. And with the right builders on board, the results can leave everyone stoked.