real life

BLOG: The tradesman will not be hot and 5 other universal truths about house reonovations.

Bern Morley






Perhaps you are thinking about renovating. Perhaps you’ve outgrown the space that was just GREAT when it was only the two of you but now, with an impending arrival, you’re considering an extension. Perhaps you’ve lost your freaking mind.

That’s why I’m here.

Simply to give you a few pointers as someone who not only has three children, but has also renovated the original money pit.

Our grand plan was this: Buy the worst house in the best street, renovate it, sell it and then do it again – roughly five more times. I pictured us, mortgage free, able to relax in our late fifties, dining out regularly on our brilliant idea.

Sadly, this hasn’t happened. Mainly because we are completely shit at renovating.

This wasn’t our first renovation but it was certainly our most major and I seriously believe that my husband and I sat down and smoked a massive joint the day we put in an offer on that house because it is the only feasible explanation I can come up with as to why we didn’t see how useless and expensive that house would be make liveable for a family of 5. Or a family of 2 for that matter. To be fair, the market was high, we were panicking and living with my in-laws with three children, one a newborn.

It was like the trifecta of shit decision making.

I think though, we just totally underestimated the scale of the renovation. I had just had a baby and the house was dazzling us with its orange shag pile carpet, non-existent cupboard space and vicinity to the water.

I liken the process of renovating to getting married.


Hear me out.

Renovating is like getting married.

From the moment we set a date for our wedding, it was on. And I mean – on. Every Saturday and Sunday was taken up with visits to bridal shops, hotels, expos, beachside locations, travel agents, cake makers, balloon shops and yeah, you get the picture, it was weddings a go go.

Then the wedding came and went. It had been a full scale military exercise to bring that day together, not to mention, squeeze into my dress and then, poof, it was all over. I was bereft and cast adrift on my Saturdays. What now? Spend actual time with my new husband?

And money, Jesus don’t get me started on the so called “budget”. Please read that and make the stupid quotation marks above your head as you do, because the sentence is pure bullshit.

The thing is, my husband actually does a hell of a lot of the renovating himself and we still leaked cash like a kid with full blown gastro. Plus we just had such different ideas on what needed to be done and at what cost.

So:  Here are a few tips from someone who’s been blinded by the light and no longer sees rainbows.

1. Unless you freakishly agree on everything in your lives, you can expect at least one conversation where you will tell your partner to shove a particular tool/apparatus up their arse. This is almost guaranteed.

2. Never ever, ever, ever, ever, buy a house with only one toilet.  I don’t care who you are, how many children you have, one toilet is never enough. One toilet, 5 people, you do the math. Not a day went by that that thing wasn’t double booked.

3. Forget the hot tradesman fantasy. Just forget it. There will be no Desperate Housewives scenario where the hot Latino guy wants to have his way with you on the freshly laid tiles. Reality: He will be an old fat hairy guy that turns up too early or not at all.

4. Do not try and do it yourself.  No, you are not a plasterer, okay?  You also do not know how to put up a fence by yourself. Or install a gas oven, or for that matter, transplant a kidney. Leave it to the experts. I cannot stress this enough.

5. Borrow more money than you think.  Seriously.  Whatever you think it is going to cost, double it.  We had huge ideas about what we would do with that place. Then we got a few quotes. Even though we were lucky enough to do a lot of it ourselves, the compounding costs just blew us into next week. And the week after that. And the decade after that.

6. Get used to going to bed with the shits with your partner.  Our worst day was the white on white day.  Let me explain.  We both decided the roof colour and the house render colour. We did the colour test and it looked tops. So the day we both arrived home from work at the same time and found we lived in a Greek Palace, aka white on white, we both got ridiculously angry at one another. To be fair, this was just compounded by the fact we had gotten the bill for the addition which was double what we had been quoted and I was more than likely sick of having to play toilet roulette.


So my analogy of marriage and renovating a house I guess is this: Every single spare moment you have will be taken up with this new project, to make the seemingly impossible, possible. The project itself will change but the passion and effort will still be much the same.

Will we renovate again?  Ooooh, let me think, did I enjoy living with mould, asbestos, lead paint and one toilet to share between five?  Let’s just say I’d rather paper cut my own eyeball with a ream of Reflex than attempt this again, so that’s a solid no. But be sure to ask me in another 2 years. When, just like childbirth, I forget the pain.

Bern is a Gen X, child of the 80′s. Kept busy being a working mother of 3 children, one with Aspergers, renovating the original money pit and drinking too many coffees in the space of 24 hours.

One day she’ll remember to leave the meat out for tea but until then she writes beautiful and amusing posts on her blog which you can find here. You can also follow her on Twitter here.

Do you have any great renovation stories? Would you do it again?