Tips & Tricks

Home Renovation at Kenmore

I don’t want to give away all of our secrets, but if you are planning a home renovation in Brisbane, then perhaps this series of photographs and insider tips will make the process a little bit easier for you.

You see, this home renovation in Kenmore, Brisbane, is a benchmark – a standard that you may well pit yourself against.

The hard thinking need not be all your own. Why not cheat a little a engage with the same team that brought this home renovation the full circle; from ugly duckling home to family living space with WOW!

The Project Team

Starting from the ground up – Soil testing (AS2870) by Wagner Soil Testing

Architectural Dreaming – Design by: The Outside Perspective

Hammer and Nail Time – Construction by: Signature Renovations

A lovely set of Bones: Structural Engineering by: Cornell Engineers

Home Renovation Insider Tips

Don’t expect everything to go exactly to plan when you renovate an existing home. There are going to be surprises. Keep a structural engineer in your phone’s speed dial and be sure to email and text them lots of photos. Keep your engineer informed and ask questions as you proceed. This way there are no nasty surprises on inspection day.

Hire a clever building designer right away. An experienced building designer will steer you through the renovation and provide the help you need to ensure the project runs smoothly.

Don’t settle for the lowest bid. There’s nothing more expensive than a poorly designed, engineered or built home. The heartache and financial stress is multiplied if you try to cut corners and fight prices down every step of the way. Know your costs, maintain a budget and use the best designers, engineers and builders to achieve real value for money.

Ask for references. Check online reviews. Ask to speak to previous clients. The smart money is on using experienced builders and designers that wow their clients time after time. If your contractor goes all wry when you ask for references, then start considering alternative options.

Don’t pretend to be swimming when you should be waving. We don’t expect you to know everything about building and renovtaing. Hell – we’re still learning! Ask questions and keep asking until you understand the answers. If your builder, engineer and designer can’t talk using words you understand, then maybe they are not quite the perfect choice for you.

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

If a picture tells a thousand words, here are several thousand for your visual appreciation.

Tips & Tricks

Pool Pergola at Morningside

We just signed the Form 16 inspection certificate for our pool pergola project at Morningside.

Project Team

The team involved in this lovely project were:

Proudly built by Whitehouse Builders.

Proudly designed by Tim Glass Design.

Structural engineering design by Jenny Bae.

Construction phase inspections by Rachel Tsang.

Tips & Tricks

Renovation Project at The Gap

We just signed the final Form 16 inspection certificate for our building renovation and extension project at The Gap today.

Project Team

The team involved in this lovely project were:

Proudly built by Next Level Construction Queensland

Proudly designed by Matt Esler at MR Designs.

Structural engineering proudly provided by Rachel Tsang and the team at Cornell Engineers.

Soil testing by Apod Soil Testing.

The Renovation Story

This house renovation story began for Cornell Engineers in 2019 when the homeowners approached us to quote their garage, deck and renovation project.

The enquiry was fairly typical of the email enquiries we get every day:

I am seeking a quote to engineer draftsman’s plans for a small renovation/extension.

Of course, the team at Cornell Engineers was only too happy to help. We quoted the job straight away.

A lot of house extension jobs like this one need a soil test so our engineers can design the footings to suit the site (see our post on “What is a soil test“). So a part of our quote on this occasion was to arrange ad pay for a site classification from a local firm of soil testers. We don’t charge extra to arrange a soil test – we just prefer to know that our clients are being cared for by a company that we know and trust.

One of the questions the client asked us when they received our quote was, “Does your fee include site inspection during construction?”

This is a very good question and one that most home renovators will want to know the answer to.

The answer is that our design fee does not include site inspections during construction. The reason is that most homeowners don’t know when their job will go ahead. They certainly don’t know how many times their builder is going to arrange for an engineer’s site inspection.

So we prefer to provide a cost per inspection in our quote – but it isn’t charged until the inspections are carried out. You don’t want to pay for a site inspection that may not even happen, do you?

Once we have our client’s authorisation to proceed, things really start to pick up. We organise the soil test, request dwg files from the building designer and arrange for our preliminary site inspection to review the existing structure.

Some people think a preliminary inspection by an engineer should happen before the building designer is engaged. Most of the building designers we work with are very clever and experienced and know a troubled structure when they see one. We normally don’t need to inspect a building until the building designer’s drawings are complete. it’s just easier that way.

Once we have the soil test, dwg files and photos from our preliminary site inspection, structural engineering design can start in the office.

The structural engineer that attended site to take the photos is nearly always the one doing the engineering calculations and drawings. Who better to put a comprehensive set of drawings together that show exactly what work needs to be done, how it is connected, member sizes and special aspects all in one neat set of pdf drawings.

Once they are complete our engineering drawings are thoroughly reviewed by an RPEQ registered professional engineer in Queensland. All of the aspects and assumptions and calculations are checked and the drawings are checked to ensure as many site issues as possible are resolved while the job is still imaginary.

Finally, our drawings are issued to our client with a Form 15 design certificate and an easy to pay invoice (we accept BPay, direct transfers and credit card payments).

Next we wait.

The homeowner takes the reigns and we structural engineers wait.

We recommend that homeowners find a builder that they like, can work with and feel that they can trust. This is one of the most important relationships you’ll form in your life and it needs to be a careful decision.

Then, with the builder signed up the construction can start.

Cornell Engineers carries out many construction phase inspections each week. We simply ask if you need us on your site that we receive at least 24 hours notice of an inspection. We can often attend site with less notice, but we’d hate to hold up construction if we have too many bookings to attend when you need us.

That’s it.

That’s how this project went together. The builder did a nice job. The building designer did their thing. We loved the outcome and we loved working with these clients!

Now please check out our photos.

Building Renovation Photos

Have a look at our series of photos of how this renovation project progressed through construction.

Tips & Tricks

Chelmer House Renovation

Peek inside this structural house renovation project in Chelmer, Brisbane to see how it started and how it progressed through construction.

A big thank you to all of the people involved in this project:

How to Plan Your Home Renovation

Check out our article on how to plan your home renovation project for some great ideas on where to start ad how to plan your home renovation project:

Photos of this Chelmer house renovation project

Tips & Tricks

Spot the Problem

Just some of the Spot the Problem photos that we’ve helped solve. Have you got a problem you think we can solve? Give us a call.

Spot the Problem 1
Should we move the stairs or move the door??
Wet it up, boys. A wet concrete mix is easy to spread and easy to work (who cares if it cracks like anything tomorrow!)