Laura's Backyard: Real-Life Lessons from a Real-Life Renovation

Renovation Diary

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Name: Laura Watson
Type of Project: Outdoor renovation
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Type of building: Semi-detached shop front/cottage with 1200 sq. ft. backyard

After following along with Laura's backyard renovation, last week we were treated to some photographs of the finished space. In this, the final installment of Laura's renovation diary, we're checking back in with her to see what important lesssons she learned during the process.

Now that the project is over and you're looking back on it, what are the most important lessons you learned through the remodeling process?

The most important thing we learned from this renovation is sometimes you have to accept that it’s time to call in the professionals. We almost doubled our labour costs because we had the unforeseen issue of additional layers of concrete under our existing yard. However, by knowing when it was time to call in the professionals, we saved ourselves several days of additional hard labour and additional rubbish removal costs, and by calling in help we got the job finished in a day so we could get on with the fun stuff!

If you were to do this again, what would you choose to do differently?

We wouldn’t choose to do anything differently. We are really happy with how our backyard has turned out. The space is simple and functional and once the plants have had time to establish it will really add to the peaceful, relaxing atmosphere in the garden.

Did your schedule go as planned? What took more time than you thought it would? What took less time?

As usual, we went over schedule with this project. We estimated 8 weeks work, but it turned out to be about 11 weeks. There were a few setbacks along the way: we missed the deadline to have the garage manufactured before the Christmas shut down; the additional excavation work took an extra week; and when the garage arrived it was missing a roof support beam, which meant we had to wait a few extra days to finish off the garage roof.

What is your next project going to be?

Apart from a few bits and pieces (establishing the espalier citrus in spring and maybe painting inside the house) we are glad to take a break from renovations for a while. We are happy with the progress we’ve made and it’s time to sit back and enjoy our hard work!

Any other final lessons?

After the issues we had with our builder during the kitchen work, we decided to complete as much of this renovation as we could by ourselves, and we achieved quite a lot. We found it both challenging and exciting! We also found that there was much less stress and friction at home because we were responsible for the work ourselves and were not relying on external builders who we were dissatisfied with. In the end we’ve got a lovely, functional space and a happier household!

This concludes Laura's renovation diary. You can check out the full series to see the whole renovation process, step-by-step, or you can explore all of our Renovation Diaries.

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

(Images and diary text: Laura Watson)

(Image credits: Laura Watson; number)

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