It wouldn’t be a true home reno if there wasn’t some nasty surprises along the way! And for Alana Koch and her husband Alex, their unexpected expense came in the form of a $14,000 hole! “Our pool had to be dug out of solid rock. So instead of two days digging, it took 14 and cost $14,000. Jackhammering for two weeks straight anyone? The neighbours loved it of course.”
Buying their Randwick property off-market, they immediately fell in love with the home for its flat backyard, a rarity in Sydney’s east. The ideal blank canvas, the couple was quick to decide on a renovation plan, wanting to transform the outdoor space into the perfect garden for their three young boys.
Taking five months to transform – though a few plumbing issues with the pool saw this drag to nine – the backyard renovation wasn’t cheap, costing $120,000! Putting in a pool, deck, new shed (concealed behind the pool’s feature wall) and new fencing, Alana called on the help of professionals to bring her ideas to life. “My husband and I have zero handyman skills, so we called on the team of Harrison’s Landscaping to help us design and build the garden with another subcontractor for the pool. It was a massive job, and I can honestly say that bar painting the fence, we could have done little of it ourselves. I gave Harrison’s a big pile of images that I liked and they bought it together.”
However, while the reno was costly, there were some budget buys! “The Bluestone around the pool from Eco Outdoor was only $59 per sqm, which was cheaper than some non-stone tiles! Bargain. We also got our pool interior tiles online and they were really cheap – we didn’t mind that they were a plain colour as it allowed the outside of the pool to be the feature. We didn’t want too much going on! Finally the frangipani was a bargain buy off Gumtree, but then my husband dropped it off the back of the truck so it lost many of its branches. Still not sure if it will ever look as good again!”
Being their third renovation, and with Alana currently managing a fourth reno in Clovelly: “My husband is happy I get to enjoy the renovation with someone else’s money for a change!” she has learnt some valuable lessons from her garden reno. “My biggest learning would be just trying to manage communications between the certifiers, landscapers, pool builders and council. It is a big beast to keep track of! And my advice for would-be renovators would be if you have a hard budget, then take 30% off when you tell the builders/landscapers/architects. They will go over it. Every time!”
Now there forever home, Alana is ecstatic with the final result; though it’s a challenge to pick her favourite part. “The deck is awesome as it has made the whole space feel larger. It goes straight out from the house which is great for entertaining and little kids. Of course the pool is amazing too – it is far easier for us than dragging three little kids to and from the beach! And lastly we noticed the biggest change when we painted the fence charcoal (Dulux Monument). It tied all the fencing together and really made the plants pop.”