Category Archives: extension

The story of Me, My Beloved and an Architect. A Flowchart in Three Columns.

I thought that a picture would be best.


So it’s back to me, the iPad and Home Designer. And the occasional tape measure.

The really annoying thing is that it has given us ideas above our station – nothing will live up to the Awesomeness that was that initial concept design.

The good thing is that we both realised that $X was WAY more than we were comfortable with. So we have revised our budget to 50% of X and I think we can do it. But with a builder, not an architect. And we won’t have to move out, although there might be a night or two in a local hotel/on a friend’s couch.


Posted by on September 3, 2012 in extension, flowcharts, grand plans


Extension progress? Not much.

The title really says it all. Fraser is still enjoying his “long precontemplative stage”.

Meanwhile, I am trying to clear barriers, so that we will be ready to go when he emerges. Three big steps forward this week.

I went up to our local council on Friday, having paid $65 for them to retrieve a copy of the plans of our house. “Oh, congratulations!” said the guy at the building counter. “It’s exactly 15 years since these plans were approved!”

I frowned. Thought. Counted on my fingers, to be sure.

We bought the house on 13 June 1996. Renovated.

We had visited the house several times, over several weeks.

It was renovated then, too.

And the plaster panels in the walls were dated March 1996.

I decided it was best not to think about it any more.

Then I had a long chat to the building counter guy, which was mostly about him trying to say things without saying them. Which I am not very good at understanding. Essentially, we have to have a car space at the back of the house, even if we don’t use it. Which is bad news. The good news is that putting a big double gate on the back fence would count as off-street parking even if the only parking was on the back lawn. But that’s not really the greatest idea ever.

His other advice was to get EVERYTHING specified, even before we talk to builders. Which makes our probable upcoming meeting with an architect a good starting point. It also means that I can really work on the “fun” stuff during Winter – choosing tiles, floors, paint colours, sinks, etc – really working up that spec. I explained to Fraser that I am happy to do it, but that after I do that work it would be VERY bad not to go ahead with it. I tried to be stern.

As for timing, we have 19 months. Building Counter Guy says that’s do-able. Much more do-able than the many people who turn up when they find out that (a) they are pregnant and (b) they have nowhere for the baby to go. In his words: “In a race between a baby and a house, the baby always wins.” It is, however, not entirely generous.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen our accountant to get my tax on the way to done. A little homework and by the time you are reading this he will be working his magic. As a Self-Employed Person, I need lots of tax returns to show that I am Responsible and Income-Earning when we go to the bank to ask them for a (really very modest) sum of money to pay for these renovations. I slightly suspect that my LATE tax returns only demonstrate 50% of these properties. But I brought my accounts up to date and in the process (I have already admitted this to Fraser and he was justifiably scathing) discovered a bank account that I’d squirrelled some money away into and then forgotten about. Mortifying. But also, fabulous. I can deal with that.

On Sunday, I decluttered the Cupboard Under The Sink and discovered scary amounts of duplicates and of things I don’t want and a Lifetime Supply of Oven Cleaner. More than that, really, because there were 4 cans of the stuff and when we renovate we will get a pyrolitic oven that doesn’t need it. If anyone in the local area needs a can of rather old oven cleaner, please let me know. You even have a choice of brands! And then I cleaned out the plasticware cupboard and sorted all the lunch containers so Fraser can’t complain that we have no lids.

And I enrolled Otto at the IKEA childcare place. Because I foresee quite a few visits there in the next few months. And she loves going there to play.

Next steps:

  • Meet with architect for preliminary designs (we have an agreed trigger point for this).
  • Work up specs (Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?).
  • Pay taxes (ugh).
  • Swedish meatballs.

Posted by on June 5, 2012 in children, decluttering, extension, tax


When banks and logic don’t entirely mix.

I had an eye-opening conversation with my bank this week. A sort of pre-pre-renovation conversation.

The big thing in Australian homeloans is “100% offset accounts”. What this means is that if you borrow $100,000 but you have $40,000 in deposit funds, your deposits count against your borrowings and you only pay interest on the $60,000 gap. Which is awesome because otherwise you would pay interest on $100k and then earn a little bit of interest on $40k and then pay tax on that leaving only a pittance that is probably not even enough to purchase an Inspection Camera.

This is important because when I get paid, I get paid in lump sums, and then I can go for months without being paid again. (Especially as I am Crap At Invoicing and really need someone to hold my hand to get all that stuff done.) So I have two important bank accounts with varying sums in each:

  • One is the 40% of everything I earn that I put aside for taxes, which gets paid to the taxation department in a lump sum if when I actually get around to doing my tax return.
  • And the other is the account where my money sits until I pay myself – because it seems better to average it over the year and pay myself slowly.

(Note: I know that there are other ways I could do this with budget lines and things and all in one physical bank account. But I would prefer not to do that because it just encourages me to fudge the money and buy shoes.)

What I would like to have is a homeloan with TWO (or even three, if Fraser has any spare cash lying around) of these magical 100% offset accounts.

And apparently this cannot be done.

I could, however, split the loan in half and have TWO homeloans, each with its own offset.Or three, if Fraser wants to do this as well.

Because that makes a lot more sense.

If only there were a Free Gift With Every New Homeloan. I could make a killing.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 22, 2012 in extension, not your earth logic, tax


Renovation tools and rules

As I make my grand plans for our home renovation home extension Palace of Us, I’m looking for tools to make it easier. And I have come up with a few simple rules to help me along the way.

Rule 1: Everything is better with the right stationery.

This is a rule that I apply to pretty much everything in my life. You can do anything if you have enough pens and paper clips (Thank you, MacGyver). But in this case, it’s the My Dream Home binder from Kikki-K which lets me file all the important things like the name and business card of the builder I liked, and the laminate sample chips. With post-its on them that describe what they are for, if I am keeping track.

And a little notebook which I keep in a zippered case in my bag, where I can jot down ideas, thoughts, addresses, brands etc if I run across them.

Tools: Binder, Recycling bin (for the bits I am not keeping), plastic pockets, pen, post-its, notebook, zippered case.

Rule 2: There’s an App for that!

Otto and I have had a lot of fun playing with the Home Design 3D app on my iPad. It’s great for sketching out floor plans and even for simple 3D visualisation. I find it easy to use although restricted in what it offers (and in the range of furniture it has). You can even paint the walls! It’s turned into a fun hobby for Otto, who likes designing houses, schools and improbable structures with no doors. If only it would let you do multi-storey designs, it would be idea.

And then of course there are the myriad budgeting and note-keeping tools that you can get. I suspect that I will use one of those to track the project once we get started, but for now I keep coming back to trusty Excel. Or Google Docs, so Fraser can see them too (but he’d be happier if he didn’t).

Tools: Home design app, budgeting apps, spreadsheets.

Rule 3: When in doubt, ask the Internet.

This is right up there in my rules of life anyway, or so Fraser believes. And for sussing out what the Internet thinks, I am loving Pinterest. I can scan what other people are posting and can post my own stuff – or repurpose someone else’s pin – and I can collect things that are relevant to the extension in one central place.

Actually I’ve raved about Pinterest so much that Fraser joined it too. Except that he uses it to share things but not to view them (Because he’s DOING IT WRONG). So I told him that anything posted to my House Extension board can and will be considered Agreed By Him if he doesn’t explicitly say it’s not. In writing. On Pinterest.

Turns out Pinterest is good for consensus-building, too. At least in theory.

Tools: Pinterest. Oh. And this blog.

Rule 4: Trust me. You’ll love it.

I think this should actually be Rule 1 of my life. Or of Fraser’s. Because much as he may shudder at my grand plans and ideas, by the time I have obsessed about them enough for them to become reality they are actually pretty good grand plans and ideas.

And sometimes he will even admit that.

And I think he’s happier if he doesn’t have to know the detail.

Tools: Us.


Posted by on May 15, 2012 in extension, grand plans, house