Big Blue House #2: What’s the plan Stan

Status update:

  • Draftsman working on plans
  • Rebekah entered final trimester (and fell down the stairs) – 12 weeks to go!
  • Alvin stole a family size block of chocolate then spewed on the brother-in-law’s new shag-pile carpet (awkward!)
  • Tasman rode his pedal bike all by himself (= one very proud dad)


Tip of the week

  • Maximise your planning spend by getting an architect to create design concepts and a draftsman to turn them into working drawings.


So, What’s the plan Stan……..


As my brother-in-law the builder likes to say: ‘a good build starts with good drawings”.

Our drawings started with two tables for sale on TradeMe.

We’d already had a couple of draftsmen around to quote on our renovation project when I bought two work desks (fashioned from old doors with Kermit-green legs) for The Inside’s show room.  As fate would have it, the desks were being retired from local architect firm Arthouse, and its founder David Wallace gave up his lunch break to help me carry our new character pieces down the stairs. What a champion.

david wallace

David Wallace

Next thing, David is up at our house talking over our grand plans and sharing his blend of artistic flare and practical design experience gained over 20 years in the game.

With our budget, it simply wasn’t feasible to contract an architect as they operate on a project-management-like basis as opposed to just supplying a set of building plans (and their fee schedule is based around a per centage of your build cost which will work out more expensive than a standard draftsman’s drawings).

But we were lucky enough to be able to get David to create some hand-drawn concepts for us.  Much more than delivering a set of sketches, David led us through a process and helped us realise a balance between what we desired, what we needed, what we could afford, how to maximise existing space and how best to tailor it to our family’s needs. He was also very clever at using existing walls and window openings to minimise cost.


With projects like these, you have to choose where you spend your money (and where you don’t) so at $1100, this was approximately 1% of our budget – and a big call.  At the beginning, it’s impossible to see around all the corners ahead but David helped deliver clarity and focus and a sense that we are heading on the right path.  I think we’ll look back on it as money well spent.

So, this is the plan, Stan.  We are going to convert our 2 bedroom 1970’s retirement home into a modern 4-bedroom home for a young family.  The rabbit warren that is our existing bottom level, will be turned into our main sleeping quarters with three bedrooms, a master bathroom and plenty of storage.

14121 (C01) Hicks Adam - 6 Britannia Heights Nelson - 03 Mar 2014_Page_1

Downstairs current (left) and future floor plans

The over ’80s couples retreat that is our top level, will be transformed in a large open-plan space with kitchen, dinning and lounge with a separate guest bedroom/playroom with an ensuite.

14121 (C01) Hicks Adam - 6 Britannia Heights Nelson v 2- 03 Mar 2014_Page_2

Upstairs current (left) and future floor plans


We’re going to replace the conservatory with a new deck to create a good indoor-outdoor flow, and bring the great views into our main living quarters by putting in as much glass as possible. We’re talking all new joinery, a new staircase, new kitchen, new bathroom, levelling floors, new log burner, re-insulating all walls, and re-jibbing.  And that’s just off the top of my head (I’ll talk budgets and costs in a coming post – but already I’m having heart palpitations at the thought of the mortgage…breathe Ads, just breathe…).

We’ve taken David’s concepts to our draftsman, Jeremy at Gowan’s Walters who turned them into these floor plans.  In the long run, we hope that having the architect concepts sorted before going to Jeremy will cut down on his time and work out to be a similar cost as if we just used a draftsman – except at the end we can say that we have an architecturally-designed renno….

It has been a real process to arrive at this layout and we’re satisfied this will give us a good balance of practical family living and maximising it’s best asset: the view.

What do you think of our plans?

How have you handled your own design process?

Drop us a comment below or hit us on our facebook page.

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