I've been a bit quiet (maybe you haven't noticed, it might be it was more in my head...), because I've been receiving the builders pricing on our extension over the past week, and the pricing on the pool, and working out how to make adjustments accordingly (downwards, that is).

Like everyone we have a budget (well pretty much everyone, I did work on a house in London that had no budget, literally. A Middle Eastern client whose 6 year old son was getting 80,000 pounds worth of wallpaper in his bedroom, and that was 13 years ago now....). And like pretty much everyone, our project has come in over what we'd like to spend. The ways that we are looking at trimming down some of the costs are by analysis of the following:

- Money into Architecture first
- Not overcapitalising on the property (particularly important in the current economy)
- Can things be delayed until later

Not exactly earth shattering, but I'll explain my rational.

Architecture is the permanent stuff - it encompasses the things that will be permanent and unchanging without another major renovation. Things like how many rooms you build, ceiling heights, window design and quality, insulation in walls and ceiling, quality of permanent materials. It is not your kitchen. Kitchens have a life span of around 15 years. Appliances have built in obsolescence of around 5-10 years (depending on which brand you buy). So looking at it like that, putting in a $15,000 stove may not be the best way to spend your money. You can definitely make your kitchen look great without spending loads of money.

Overcapitalising on the property is very important. It is very easy to get carried away. I'm certainly no exception. There are so many things and products that I have seen that I'd love to put into my permanent house. But I won't, because working in commercial Property Development in Melbourne for a few years taught me to be fairly ruthless when making my financial assessments. The only way you are making money in property is if after your purchase price and renovation and holding costs you are able to turn around and sell it at a profit (having taken out normal market rise). Not many people actually achieve this domestically. So it's something to bear in mind when you're making assessments of where to spend your money. While we don't plan on selling our house, you can never be sure of what circumstances and changes life will bring, so you should still consider this in your assessment.

Source: emmas.blogg.se  

A massive part of the cost of our renovation is in concrete (which has risen substantially in Australia in the past 2 years). A large part of this is for the new office downstairs for my husband. But when looking at the value that adds to the house if we were to sell it, versus the cost of including this in our building program, it is definitely not something to cut out.

Things being delayed later is fairly obvious, and that is why we have a 6 stage building process going on at our place (the extension will mark the half way point.....).

So, one of the things I've been looking at this week is cutting back on the cost of the flooring. We have 150 square meters including the laundry, playroom and kitchen/dining/living inside, and around 80 square metres in the outside dining area and veranda. My initial thought was that I wanted the flooring to flow from inside to outside, emphasising the conservatory type feel that I'm trying to achieve, and I wanted it to be dark to ground the space with the very high ceilings. Some of my inspiration photos are above. Tiling costs around $60/ per square metre for the labour alone. Tiles are on top of that. I went to a couple of tiling showrooms, asking to see tiles that were around $40-60/ square meter mark, and they were not great. At all. They were too shiny, to perfect, too fake looking, especially over such a large area. I'd inevitably gravitate toward the $180/ square meter tiles. Ideally, I'd have run Mintaro Slate both inside and outside, however it's around the $245/ square metre mark, so that was definitely off the agenda. I came to the realisation that I'd prefer not to have a poor quality tile on the floor, which I'd still be paying a lot of money for.

So, after a fair bit of thought, I've decided on using linoleum inside, and Mintaro Slate outside. Before you all click away in disgust, I'll explain why. Linoleum is definitely not Vinyl. People my age seem to know nothing about it, but it's one of the best products out there - it's environmentally friendly, being made of compressed limestone, wood resins and linseed oil with pigments on a jute backing. It's the same process as when it was invented 150 years ago, and is still made in Scotland, where it was originally invented. It is incredibly durable (will last around 50 years or more), softer underfoot than a stone or concrete surface, and when laid can appear completely seamless (they have invisible welds between the sheets). It comes in so many different colours and patterns and textures (even crocodile textured!). It also costs around $60/ square meter fully installed. I would prefer to have this on my floors any day over polished concrete (which uses a very toxic epoxy coating to seal it).

Source: trendir.com  

Floors are usually a permanent feature in a house, but my thought was that this wouldn't actually be a feature. With large area rugs under the dining and seating areas, very high almost 4 meter ceilings, the antique French limestone fireplace, and beautiful and large steel framed windows, the floor would be very much in the background. So I've had the Forbo Rep visit me this week bringing me samples, and I've chosen a very dark grey with a slightly textured surface that will match in with the slate thresholds at the french doors and outside. It will be a continuous, unbroken and simple floor surface that will receed into the background of the rooms, and we will save around $25,000 by doing this.

I'm actually quite excited about my new linoleum floors. I've also convinced my Dad to use them for the upcoming conservatory he will be building at his place. We'll do a large scale soft grey and white checkerboard effect there, which will suit the heritage house well.

via look at all the things you can do with it! Just not necessarily in my home....
Actually, while googling images for this post, I've come across a number of different Architect's blogs, where they sing the praises of linoleum in domestic projects. It's just that it's been marketed only Commercially over the past 50 or so years, its reputation sullied by the advent of Vinyl flooring, which has absolutely nothing to do with linoleum. In addition, the Forbo website is not very user friendly, so it's clearly not been pushed at the domestic market, which is a great shame.

So, necessity is the mother of all invention. While budget discussions can be difficult, they do make you go back over your plans and examine your reasons for everything. This can mean that you not only save money, but you make improvements as well. There is a silver lining in everything if you look for it.


  1. Uggggh. The B word! One of the most hated words out there, I am sure :)

    Look forward to seeing the Linoleum you choose <3


    1. I know B - it is, isn't it!! I'm thinking the linoleum is going to look fab. I'm now at a point where I wouldn't tile the floors anyway - I'm now thinking it's a waste of money. xx

  2. Hello Heidi, I've been enjoying your blog for a while now. I was so interested to read about linoleum today - I grew up in Scotland and was very used to seeing it in houses there, but I've just had an argument with my husband; he says that it's only used commercially here in Canada! I looked online and yes, the Forbo website is not very user-friendly and I get the impression that lino might be expensive here (sounds like it's very much special-order). Looking forward to seeing how your floors turn out! Your house is beautiful - I'm very much enjoying following the changes you are making, thanks!

    1. Hi Patricia, I'm very surprised that Lino is not sold domestically in Canada - it might be something you have to enquire about, but even if it's special order, it would still be cheap (easy installation means cheaper labour cost, and the product is not expensive to start with - also, we have it shipped to the other side of the world and usually pay a huge premium for that). I've found when using it on projects in the past (commercial ones) that there were only a few local installers - the Rep would usually give me a few names to get quotes from. It might be something that is available domestically, but a little hard to find without contacting the company direct in Canada? Their website is also difficult in that the domestic heading has fewer linoleum ranges listed compared to the commercial section, but they'd all be available if you wanted them. They need to do a bit of work to improve the marketing. I love that it's still made in Scotland - so much industry has ended up in China, that it's nice there is still manufacturing where it originated. Thank you for your comment! xx

  3. Oh budgets.

    On a working farm the house adds very very little (some say nothing but I disagree) to the capital value of your asset! Hence we walk a line between trying to have somewhere lovely to live and knowing the money will never be got back. Luckily The Farmer and his family think that as we spend so much time at home, entertaining at home etc that we should all have nice houses but I still would never spend what some of my city friends spend on renovations in Perth. I love things like lino and laminate that give me the look for less as I can then make my budget go further. I am working hard on my garden too so that the house sits well in its environment and feels less like it is plonked in a paddock. We also try and choose really good quality furniture that will last and makes everything look more substantial and draws the eye from some of the cheaper finishes....

    I completely agree with you re not stinting on the actual building materials electrical work etc. So many old houses up here with wonderful kitchens but dodgy wiring. A new kitchen is pretty useless if it burns down in the first year! Our last house was fairly old and there were some interesting surprises in the roof - cotton insulation on exposed wiring and no smoke detectors being my favourite.

    Tiles are ridiculously expensive. I had to choose some samples for the bathroom in our shearer's quarters which are being renovated for guest accommodation. The lady in the tile outlet laughed at me. I went to choose basic grey tiles with a roughish surface to go with the rustic nature of the building - she then commented that I had gravitated to the two most expensive tile lines in the shop! Simple costs money. Fortunately the area is so small that I will get away with it. Particularly as we have used timber salvaged from other farm buildings for most of the rest of the work.

    There are so many competing interests in a family farm budget - I try and do a bit each year (big bits in good years and little bits in not s good years).

    Might stop commenting now as I feel like I have hijacked your comment stream!

    Take care.


    1. Very interesting comment - loved hearing about how you're doing things on the farm. I think more people need to look practically at their houses, mostly people are too emotional about it. The first thing I tell people is to do the wiring when they buy a house that hasn't been renovated in the past 25 years. It's not a fun place to spend money, but it is completely necessary. I also agree with you on the garden and furniture aspect. A garden is not necessarily an expensive thing to cultivate (if you don't buy mature plants and have some patience that is), but it definitely adds so much to your home. And I do know people who have bought houses that were beautifully decorated, then found out after they moved into the house that the kitchen was awful and very old and the house needed a full reno - they had fallen in love with the decoration and feel of it.
      Agree with you re tiles. The nice ones are always the most expensive! If it's a small area, I'll often choose a more expensive tile, because the labour costs are so high in Australia in a small area it doesn't make much difference on the budget. xx

  4. We have family that had the same issues as you regarding stretching the budget for timber floors. Tiling wasn't an option due to cold winters in the country. Their large home was being built by my hubby on their vineyard / farm and the lino they chose, a timber look-a-like, was a godsend. It was easy to keep clean and soft underfoot. And looked FABULOUS! It was definitely a silver-lining for them. Their budget leading them to this option which resulted in the perfect floor solution.
    x KL

    1. I'm hoping that's going to be like me too KL. I think I'm going to love the linoleum. That's so great that they ended up with a happy (and cheap) solution to their problem. So nice to hear a story like that xx

  5. The lino sounds like a perfect solution....looking forward to seeing it in situ at your place! Love the idea that it comes from Scotland and is environmentally friendly. Have just finished sorting out tiles/tilers at our development and a bigger wrought never existed....the first quote was double the second! Rx

    1. I do like the green aspect of it - I try really hard to consider that in my design, but like anything green there are pros and cons for pretty much everything (linoleum is pretty much a standout on that front). There is a good reason why so many tradies drive expensive cars and send their kids to private schools..... labour costs are still incredibly high! Would love to hear more about your development. xx

  6. Fabulous post! So practical and I love that you are keeping it real!!

    1. Thanks! I'm pretty confident that I can say there'll be a lot more posts like this to come (unfortunately. It would be nice if it all just worked out perfectly!) xx

  7. Looking forward to seeing the photos of your floors. I imagine they will look fabulous. I'm very impressed with your ability to choose items that look fantastic while still keeping function, ease of cleaning and price in mind!

    1. Hi Kate, we lived in a very impractical house for a year while we rented in Melbourne before moving back to Adelaide. It was a GREAT lesson in what not to do. It all looked flash, but just didn't work on a functional level. I think it's just very important to be realistic about how you're able to maintain your house, and have it looking good at that level 90% of the time. I might do a blog post on that rental house, actually. It was a really interesting example... xx

  8. A quick question as I am just going through flooring options.

    Would this be suitable for underfloor heating?

    I know some materials don't react well but wondering if you think this would go well with electric underfloor heating? No rush as I know you are so busy but just wondering because when you google these things - ask one question you get ten answers!

    1. Yes, it's perfect for underfloor heating. We are putting in hydronic under floor heating in the slab, and this is perfectly safe with it, which was one reason why I chose it. I also like that as it is natural you won't get any extreme off gassing as there is nothing synthetic which would otherwise happen when it is heated. timber boards usually have a toxic finish on then, and carpet has synthetic dyes so when they're heated it can be pretty stinky/ toxic for a few years. Really the only other option is tiles, which are fine, but very expensive. xx

  9. Thanks Heidi - good points about the post effects of heating a material. I think I might go with lino and will show what you wrote to the hubbie - he needs constant evidence in every decision...
    In Korea, most people have underfloor heating and I grew up with such warmth on my feet and yet in the UK the technology is soo behind when it comes to that.

    We installed underfloor heating to the bathrooms but the weight of the stone broke the wires. Was such a pahlava and wasted time and energy and now is freezing.

    Promise I won't ask too many questions in future hehe xx


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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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