Home Renovation Project Updates

Wall Removal Project – Lutwyche

Here are some photos of a (quite tricky) wall removal project that we assisted with in Lutwyche, Brisbane.

Project Team

Construction by Rod McDowall from P2P Construction Solutions
Structural Engineering by Cornell Engineers


What wall removal project are you considering?

Home Renovation New Homes

A Holistic Approach to Building Sustainability

An article by Joanne Galea

A Holistic Approach to Building Sustainability

Many could be under the belief that it is the energy and water efficient fixtures and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) finishes that satisfy sustainable and healthy building outcomes.

Important as these are, a holistic, whole of building fabric and systems approach is the attitude of this biological building designer.

5 Questions Home Renovation

5 Questions with Home Renovator Gareth Baines

We caught up with owner builder Gareth Baines, who extended and renovated his house at Wellington Point in 2014, and asked him 5 questions about his renovation project:

Why did you decide to extend/renovate?

We bought our property 5 years ago but after only 6 months living there were relocated Melbourne with work. We rented the property out until we returned to Brisbane 2 years ago. We thought about

A photo before renovation work started
Wellington Point renovation before

buying another property but we couldn’t find one that ticked all our boxes. Eventually we came to the conclusion that we would renovate.

We embarked on a rather large scale renovation which included:

  • removing & reusing the existing stairs in a different position
  • giving the main entrance and upstairs landing more room
  • with the extra space were able to move several internal walls to make 3 rooms larger and also increase the size of the walk in robe and the main hallway
  • the walk in pantry has also been made available with the new configuration.

Outside the garden was tiered on 2 levels with small retaining walls

Pool excavation and footings
Pool and footing excavation

making the space feel very small. We levelled the whole rear garden and have installed a 9 x 5 swimming pool.

The outdoor entertainment area was very narrow and an awkward space to utilise. We have demolished the whole of the back of the property and replaced it with a single story extension which spans the whole of the rear of the house 16m wide x 5.5m deep replacing a tiled roof with a colour bond roof allowing for a flatter pitch and enabling the celling to be raised,

We used some large beams to span the 160mmx160mm posts which

Picture of verandah extension
Verandah posts and beams

allowed us to remove 4 existing posts and open the whole are up. We also removed the existing bay window and replaced them with patio doors and made a large opening where the existing patio doors were located & added another smaller patio door where there was a plain window,

This gives the impression that the rear of the house is mainly glass and looks and feels very modern.

Photo of house renovation
Modern look renovation

The rear of the house will be rendered and the existing tiled roof will be repainted to match the new colour bond roof.

The 3 bathrooms will be completely renovated with the en-suite & walk in redesigned to be more user friendly,

What will be the best features of your renovated house?

We think the best feature is the outdoor entertainment area. We live outside and the feeling of space  and brightness is incredible.

Verandah extension almost finished
Almost finished

How did you manage your budget?

We did the Owner Builders Course which has allowed us a certain amount of freedom to do what work we could manage ourselves. We are both quite able and have done most of the work ourselves only bringing in trades when absolutely necessary for elements of the build we couldn’t manage. Labour is the most expensive item of the build so where you are able and can “do it yourself”

What is the best thing about living at Wellington point?

The best thing about Wellington point is the village itself and the proximity to schools( our kids can walk to school) rail and the water, with sea breezes all year round.

Do you have some advice for someone about to start a renovation project?

3 bits of advice I would give to anyone planning a large renovation:

  1. Buy a good trailer (it will save you hundreds of $$$).
  2. Research your tradesmen. Get recommendations. Get one that will work with you, give you advice so you can self-perform work where possible,
  3. Make a solid program and budget then double them!!!
Home Renovation Our Friends & Associates

Douglas the Stair Master

I met Douglas Campbell on site at Annerley, Brisbane today. Douglas was building a set of hardwood timber stairs for a mutual client of ours.

The timber Douglas is using is Kwila, also known as Merbau. Check out’s database for Kwila.

Anyway, Douglas is available to build hardwood timber stairs in Brisbane. Phone 0448 427 167 or email

Nice to meet you Douglas.


Home Renovation

Tiling Over Cracked Concrete

An interesting question was posed today and I think we have an answer….

When tiling over an existing, cracked concrete slab you run the risk of cracks appearing in the tiles above the crack in the concrete.

Repair Options

We’d normally isolate the tiles from the existing cracked concrete with an unbonded (full strength) overlay or topping slab. An even better, although more expensive, option is to demolish the slab and pour a new structural slab.

Butterfly Stitches

However if there aren’t many cracks in the concrete slab and head height is limited, then you might be able to hold the cracks closed with butterfly stitches.

Butterfly strips on chin
Image courtesy of

Not these kind, but the idea is the same. Steel reinforcement cut into the slab to tie and hold the crack closed.

Repair Cracked Brickwork

The same idea is being used already by RemedialCS to repair cracked brickwork. Deformed bar is bonded into a rebate cut in a horizontal mortar bed across the crack line.

Repair Cracked Slab

In the case of a cracked slab, I recommend either stainless steel deformed bar from Valbruna or an epoxy coated bar because the reinforcement won’t have much cover and we don’t want the reinforcement to rust.

Butterfly stitch across slab crack

Depending on the application, grind 10mm x 50mm deep x 300mm long trenches perpendicular to the crack at 600mm to 1000mm centres. Place a bed of epoxy mortar in the trench, insert the stainless steel deformed bar in the trench and then fill the rest of the trench with epoxy grout.

Repairing cracked concrete
New crack stitches being installed

Once the tiles are placed over the repaired area, you’ll never know the butterfly stitches are in.

Cracks in Precast Concrete

We’ve specified a similar treatment for a precast panel that had cracked when it was lifted from the precast bed. The crack closed back up when the panel was in position so construction progressed, but the principal rejected the panel with the crack. The principal accepted butterfly stitches across the crack as a repair methdology and the work was completed on the vertical wall panel without removing it from service.

What Else Can We Fix

So there you have it. Butterfly stitches aren’t just for medical emergencies. You can also use them to help hold closed cracks in concrete and brickwork.

If you have a cracked slab, precast panel or brickwork wall, maybe butterfly stitches will help you. Call Cornell Engineers for an assessment and advice on how best to repair your cracked concrete or masonry surface.