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Renovation pitfalls and how one Newcastle couple managed them


Understand the reno pressure points.

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A drop of water was all it took to cause the disruption that now ensues throughout this century old miner’s cottage in Wickham owned by Jarrod and Jessica Morrell.

“I was making a cup of coffee downstairs and got a drop of water on my shoulder,” Jarrod said.

“I knew the en suite was directly above so we were in a bit of trouble there.”

The drop of water created what Jess calls a ‘domino effect’ as the couple decided to take the plunge to do a large scale renovation.

The couple moved into the home four years ago and lived comfortably with their two daughters until the en suite situation forced their hand early.

“We knew we were going to have to rip the en suite out and we thought while we had the tilers there we might as well get the downstairs bathroom done as well,” Jarrod said.

“We also wanted to reconfigure the back of our house where the bathroom and the laundry is so we knew we would need to do our polished floorboards downstairs.

“Then we thought, if we have to re-do the floorboards we’re going to have to re-do the kitchen as well,” he said.

“We’ve taken our time in deciding what to do, but now that it’s happening we’re very excited,” Jess added.

“In a way it’s easier to get it all done at once and not be living in half-finished things.”

Jarrod said he hoped to have the major works completed in five weeks. On top of the big renovations, lots of design touches will update the home.

“We’ll be doing other bits and pieces like putting in a servery window and replacing other windows throughout,” Jarrod said.

“We’re increasing the height of the archway in the hallway to open it up, give a bit of light and make it feel a bit more spacious.

“The list is long but it will depend on time and money to see what gets done,” he said.

The Morrell's new dining room.

Pressure point one – finance

One of the greatest concerns for renovators is finance and the question of how to pay for it.

Once they’d decided to upgrade, the Morrell’s needed to refinance their existing home loan with Newcastle Permanent.

“We decided we would do the renovation and then we reached out to the ‘Perm’ and they gave us some information up front but weren’t pushy in anyway,” Jess said.

She describes the process as straightforward and relaxed.

“It was a big thing for us so it was nice to feel we had the time to make that decision but also have the contact there if we needed any more information.”

When they were ready, Melanie Norman, Mobile Lending Manager at Newcastle Permanent, clearly advised them on the information they had to provide and what the process was.

“We had a great lending manager in Melanie.

“She was up front with all the information and easy to contact,” Jess said.

Melanie gave the couple prompts on things they’d missed and checked in regularly offering assistance and to see how they were going.

“Melanie knew the ins and outs of what we could and couldn't do so there was really no stress involved, which is rarely the case when you’re talking about money,” Jarrod added.

“We have dealt with the ‘Perm’ for 15 years now and I haven’t had a bad experience,” he said.


Pressure point two – the builders

The couple are confident in their chosen builder professionals who have locked in all of the tradespeople to work on the job.

There are three builders on board; Kyle Symes from KS solutions, Jimmy Sillet from HCF Carpentry and maintenance and Brad Yeung of Diamond Building Solutions.

Jarrod is also lending a hand and has taken five weeks of long service leave from his day job to help out.

“I’m the labourer so I'm just getting materials, doing tip runs, on the tools to help out, installing the insulation – anything I can do so they can keep working,” he said.

So far the plan seems to be a winner. One week in and they’re hitting all of their timeline targets.

While Jarrod is relishing not being at work during the renovation process, he is also there to make decisions and calls on design compromise.

“There are heaps of little decisions that need to be made all the time so it is good to be on hand to make those decisions on the spot,” he said.


Pressure point three – the plan

Another pressure point for renovators is planning prior to the build.

“We’re really excited as Jess and I are both pretty thorough in what we do so there has been plenty of discussion on all parts of the renovation,” Jarrod said.

“We feel pretty comfortable that we‘ve thought about everything that needs to get done.”

Jess said that while she and Jarrod were on the same page with the big picture it was more the little design things she was most anxious about.

“It’s a bit tricky when you’re dealing with different suppliers and you need things to match what you have already chosen,” she said.

“The kitchen is a little Hamptons with kind of an industrial feel,” Jarrod said.

“The bathroom is kind of modern and neutral, clean with large grey tiles, some industrial cement, open shower and freestanding bath.”

Jess admits to being most excited about the new kitchen and living area, which will have a spot for the kids to do their homework and a big island bench to eat at.

“It will be great to spend most of our time in an area we have designed for our family,” she said.


 This article originally appeared as sponsored content in the Newcastle Herald.

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