Growing a Home to Fit a Family

Our lives are never static. As individuals and as families, we evolve and change. In doing so, we sometimes outgrow the spaces around us.

This was the dilemma faced by Rebecca and Dom. While their family had expanded, their North Randwick home had not.

“It was a two bedroom, semi-detached brick place with an outhouse toilet. It was tiny,” Rebecca says of the original home.

“We bought the house pre-marriage, pre-children,” Dom says. “We then had two children, and it was too small. It was at that point that we either had to move or renovate. We could either move area and buy the family house, or we turn this place into as close to the family house as possible.”

With a deep affection for their local area – “It’s the best place in the world,” Rebecca attests – and all it has to offer, Rebecca and Dom made the choice to renovate. That decision made, the next step was figuring out who to trust with the job.

“It’s probably the largest expense you’ll ever make in your life, and you’re giving it someone,” Dom says of the magnitude of this decision.

Enter Virtue Projects.

“We went through a process of talking to a few builders and getting a few quotes. The key thing with the guys at Virtue is that they were referred to us through other people that had used them, so we already had positive recommendations from friends and from locals in the area,” Dom says.

“I also knew that I would be the one here every day, so I wanted it to be someone I could work with, that I could feel comfortable with,” Rebecca says. “And I felt very comfortable with Mick.”

Effective communication was particularly important, as while Rebecca would be living in a rented property next-door, and overseeing the project, there would be no architect managing the build.

“Lots of people said, ‘pay the extra money and get the architect to manage the project, that it’s so difficult with builders, because they’re not architects, they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re just going to knock it up’,” Rebecca says.

This wasn’t an option, however. Their architect had ‘kicked on’ since creating their plans, and was out of their price range now that the build had come around.

“But we didn’t have any problems at all. The Virtue boys just followed the architect’s plans, and worked around it,” she says.

“And if there were any issues, Mick would ask us, and we’d talk about it, and we’d figure it out,” Dom says.

The renovation began in May 2015. By August, the job was done.  While the Virtue boys, in their typically understated style, call it ‘just a little reno,’ Dom and Rebecca are more descriptive.

“They literally gutted it. We moved out for sixteen weeks, and they just blitzed the place,” Rebecca says.

“It was a complete gutting, reconstruction and extension,” Dom says. “And they did everything, structural and finishes.”

The former lounge and dining room became bedrooms, as did the original kitchen. The master bedroom was expanded, with windows relocated, and a walk in wardrobe and ensuite added. A toilet became a laundry and butler’s pantry. An additional communal living space was also added to the rear of the property.

While retaining some of the home’s original features – and charm – the renovation has resulted in a more functional, modern and stylish property. It has also created a series of new spaces in the home, with both Rebecca and Dom having their favourites.

“My favourite room is not exciting at all,” Rebecca laughs, describing her new kitchen and storage rich butlers’ pantry-cum-laundry. “My laundry used to be outside, and it was horrible. So now, to be in the kitchen with the kids and to be able to put on a load of washing… and I like everything to be neat, so it means that when the kids come home I can put their schoolbags in here, I can fold all the laundry, I can put the appliances away, and then I can just close [the door]. It is the most active space in the house.”

Dom’s favourite addition is similarly communal.

“We used to have a separate kitchen, separate lounge, separate dining room. Now it’s all in one space,” he says.

“This is my favourite part of the house. In winter, the kids get out of the bath and stand in front of the fireplace to get dry. During the summer, when the doors are open, it brings the indoors outdoors. We have people over, the kids are on the trampoline, running in and out… this is the life of the house.”

Rebecca and Dom are quick to give credit to those responsible for their new-look home.

“They exceeded our expectations, really, in terms of the build, the process, everything,” Dom says. “They were so on budget, so on time, and so easy to deal with. I don’t know what else you could possibly ask for,” Dom says.

“The key thing for me is that they were here every day. That surprised me – I thought Mick and Dave would come out and do the quote, then they’d send their guys in, and we’d never see them. But Mick was here, on site, on the tools, every day. And even if he couldn’t be here all day, because he was on other jobs, he’d be here at the beginning of the day to make sure everything would be okay,” he says.

“The classic question is, ‘would you recommend them – your builders – to someone?’ As far as Virtue – absolutely. In a heartbeat.”

Rebecca is more succinct.

“They were the best. I love them.”