The First TEN Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Contemplating Your Own Renovation / Justine Hadj  / 
Co-Editor of GAZELLA

story / Blog / September 11, 2017

How hard could it be? I mean really. You do this as your 9 to 5. Weave through Council. Coordinate with Consultants. Negotiate upside down with Subcontractors. Beg neighbours for forgiveness. I mean really, (yes, I see you eyebrows raised, screaming ‘nooooo’)… How hard could it be?

So eventually, I take the plunge. And here it is my friends, I’m going to share with you why you shouldn’t be contemplating starting your renovation.

1. Council. It starts off right here. At this point, you’re full of hope. Your Architect has coordinated every man and his dog, to put together drawings from sketches that are now a reality.  It’s going to be great. Thinking WAY off into the future you’re certain that this project is going to be the start of your aspiring dream, that is, to be eventually working on high end residential projects. Your retirement plan. BOOM! Ok getting a little bit off tangent…

2. Let’s not get carried away. You submit your town planning drawings and wait four months before council decides to look at them. Yes, that’s not a big deal. I mean, who cares? You’re only going to get every man and his dog complaining about how you’re ‘RUINING the streetscape’ objecting to your ‘TWO STOREY MONSTER!’

3. Dear Building Surveyor, I’m disappointed that I have not heard back from yourself or someone in the firm, regarding my renovation at Blah-Blah Street. I have called several times last week and have not had a response at all. Appreciate that this is a very busy time for you, however it would be nice at least if someone could provide some advice in regards to the below? Looking forward to hearing from you. Kind Regards, Justine.

4. To go Owner Builder or Actually Use A Builder Who Pretends To Know What They Are Doing (You do know how to build, right?). Yeah look, sometimes in life you come to a fork in the road. It’s okay not to choose the right one. My choice was between a crazy Serbian with big bushy eyebrows that overhung his eyes…  or Me. In my case, I thought going owner builder was the right option. #Regret. The struggle is real when you have no one to blame except yourself. What do you mean I f**@#$ed this!? Insert facepalm emoji here.

5. When Consultants hold out on you because you haven’t paid them. Hi Justine, I’ve checked our bank records and we haven’t received payment for the last invoice. If you could please send me the remittance or payment receipt I’ll forward over the 1507 certification. Feel free to contact me with any queries. Typical.

6. Dear Building Surveyor, I have tried contacting you for the last three weeks and still have not been able to get a response. Following up from the email sent last week, I have sent the Form 3’s to our neighbours through registered mail. The 14 days expires this Thursday. Can we organise for the building permit to be issued by at the start of next week? Regards, Justine.

7. Still waiting.

8. The argument with your Dad when you try to explain to him that construction is what you do for a living. He paces up and down the kitchen ‘Look, wouldn’t it be easier if we go with a builder? I’m not sure you can commit to this. Have you done this before?’ I sigh in frustration, ‘Dad you know I have been working in commercial construction for 9 years now. I’ve been involved in building everything from Residential, Offices to Universities. What is wrong with you?! I can’t believe I am even trying to convince you of this! For goodness sakes I’m thirty!’

9. A casual brunch catch up with friends repeatedly goes something along the lines of this: I feel like it’s been ages since we caught up. How is the renovation going? Where are you up to? My response: Exactly the same place we were the last time we spoke. I’ve been waiting for the building surveyor to issue the building permit for over 3 months now. Fingers crossed, it should be approved within the next twelve months.

10. The last straw. When your Building Surveyor thinks he’s a Structural Engineer. Dear Justine, please provide a revised footing design for the proposed pad footings that are to be installed along the existing party wall. I believe the current dowel design undermines the existing bluestone footings. Um really?! Excuse me Mr Structural Engineer, can you please explain to Mr Building Surveyor why you decided to pull this detail out from your behind, stick it onto your drawings and then give me a 1507? I think he’s a little confused.


Justine, Gazella’s Co-Editor-Extraordinaire, is working as an Owner Builder alongside her brother Laurence (The Protégé), attempting to renovate her dream house in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Way in over her head, we’ll follow her journey, both ups and downs, while she vents her spleen taking responsibility for her renovation to the next level. This is only the beginning… !


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