A Charlestown renovation picked up 2017 HIA Hunter Housing Awards for a project under $150,000

Builder Stuart Roddy, of Roddy Constructions, has seen the volume of renovations increasing in recent years.

More and more people are finding it impossible to buy in a desirable location and are instead channeling all of their energy, and money, into a renovation, extension, or both.

Two years ago he began work on a job he described as “unique”, which won his company the 2017 HIA Hunter Housing Awards in the category “Renovation/Extension” in October for a project under $150,000. 

“It was a very unique project. It was a home extension and full home renovation for an architect. It was a house that he and his wife were retiring in,” Mr Roddy said.

“It was a 1950 built home. They were wanting to transform their run-down, conservative 1950 built home into a contemporary, environmentally sustainable home to retire in.

“They actually turned a three-bedroom home into into a two-bedroom home because they just didn’t need the third room. It was really well done.”

Unique features of the home included a printed digital image of the Angophra Eucalypt tree in the neighbouring reserve behind the kitchen’s glass splashback, recycled glass wall and ceiling insulation and an open ended 11-metre long, cambered grade 316 stainless steel box gutter with detached rainheads at either end.

“I like how they really tastefully selected materials but really blended the old and the new because it’s ultra contemporary, the rear of it, but they’ve retained a lot of big ticket items, period features within the home like an old fireplace and saloon doors separating two rooms,” Mr Roddy said.

“They kept the round portico roof over the front door, which you see in a lot of those old places.”

The Charlestown home overlooked reserve and was built “completely off grid” with Solax Inverter solar panels and a LG storage battery.

“My project cost was $150,000. They bought some things outside our costs – they did the kitchen and water tanks – and we disclosed that at the awards,” Mr Roddy said.

“It was a really good look for that. We got a really good project at a value price.”

Consulting a builder first was Mr Roddy’s key tip to keeping costs down when planning a renovation or extension.

“I believe having a builder involved in the process, early on, before having something designed is the only way that you keep extension/renovation costs to a minimum,” he said.

“The costs of trades at the moment are starting to soar because of how busy they are but also building materials are going up, and at exorbitant rates. We’re seeing close to a 10 per cent rise on material costs biannually.

“A lot of designers design things very costly to build. They look very good but they’re very expensive.

“They can be out of touch with price as they’re not experiencing the sharp rise in costs like we are monthly.

“I believe they should come to us first with a designer or two in mind and if they don’t we can recommend designers but ultimately make the point of contact first with the builder that you trust or you’ve been recommended.

“That’s very important – they’ve got to be a very reputable builder.”

“Based on their budget, you can see which way you can head too because if they had a budget and they were happy to spend a large amount of money and they wanted something that was really outside the square as far as design went, then you would direct them to an architect.

“But if they were more concerned about value and I could gauge the style and make of the product they’re after, then I can maybe steer them towards a building designer, which is a very similar result but a fraction of the price and then once that happens I can give them a very realistic figure before they even had it designed, what it’s roughly going to be, without around $15,000. All our projects are fixed-price contracts.”