Posted on November 27, 2014

My Renovation Magazine Special Feature

Scott & Liv are a couple in their 30’s. They have two young children and a dog. They live busy lives juggling work, child care and all the things that go into balancing the work/family seesaw. A few years ago, they owned a small suburban home built only a few years prior by a big volume builder. It was a very simple brick veneer home with just the basic inclusions you’d expect from there ‘first time buyer’ type packages.

As their family grew, so did their desire to move closer to the CBD and find a home in a nice street in an inner-city suburb. Unfortunately for them, moving from a simple brick home in an outer area of Geelong to one of the more trendy suburbs meant that the budget was not just restrictive but set them up for the age old scenario of looking for “the worst house in the best street”.

They got exactly that – a spacious Californian Bungalow on a good size block and on one of the best streets in a suburb that is full of character and heritage. As a real added bonus it was a short walk to the CBD and an even shorter walk to the much fancied Geelong Waterfront. But at this price, getting this great location came a fairly substantial toll. The house needed work and a plenty of it.









Luckily, Scott is a qualified carpenter and was up for the challenge. He had the tools and the construction know-how to add some size and return the home to its original beauty. Both Scott and Liv also knew they were going to need some help, for there is a whole lot more to renovating than just the carpentry.

Sam and the staff from Buckby Electrical had worked for the couple many times prior to this, but on much smaller projects until now. With a trusting relationship already established, when some expertise was required on lighting, security, energy efficiency and the climate control they knew just who to call. Over the next 18 months or so the homeowners chipped away at the renovation getting in the qualified help when needed, but Buckby Electrical had solutions to many of their key problems.

Firstly, they wanted a highly efficient home. Scott and Liv both had a small environmental consciousness, but more importantly they wanted a home that would be cheap to run and maintain long term. Next most importantly was the home’s security. They never wanted to feel like either of their children’s, or their own safety would ever be jeopardised. Liv had heard stories of intruders entering homes whilst families were asleep and it made her uneasy. Also, as they were very money conscious people, the thought of someone coming in and taking the things they had worked so hard to own was not an option. Security was important. Lastly, they made it clear that they had a tight budget and needed to know what they could afford to do now, and what they needed to plan for so as they could achieve all their goals in the near future.


As experts in the field, through our initial consultation we were able to dig all these desires out with clarity. From that very first day we were able to design a clear path for the young couple so that they would not feel that they were restricted by their budget, as the budget was simply now just part of the plan. No different to having boundaries surrounding time frames and availability of goods, the budget was just another piece of the puzzle.

What Scott & Liv achieved was a direct result of the outcomes they were able to communicate with us, specifically their desires, their fears and their realistic boundaries. All we had to do was change the way home design is traditionally done, which is much easier than it sounds. Most commonly, prospective home owners and renovators will start the task of picking out all the individual factors of the home like windows, air conditioners, lighting and other functional items far too early in the process. What we did was very different.

We now knew that efficiency, security and budget needed to be paramount in the design. With a little deeper investigation we were also able to find out that they loved spending time at home and really enjoyed entertaining friends with dinner and wine. So whilst their most important needs had to be addressed now, the element of lifestyle needed to form the next phase. Packed with this information, we simply reverse engineered the process and aligned systems to achieve what the customers wanted as outcomes.

Firstly, we worked closely with the architect to ensure highly efficient lighting and climate control could be adopted. Importantly, an abundance of natural light was made available to the areas most used during the day, eliminating the use of artificial light. A simple heat transfer system was outlined to move the warmer air from the sunlit rooms to the cooler, shadier parts of the home. We then designed an intuitive heating and cooling system that would never over heat or over cool any areas and even monitored if the rooms were unoccupied, normally wasting valuable energy. The lighting design was also created around the idea of not lighting areas that need not be lit, with a large portion of the home controlled via sensors, dimmers and even timers. We were also able to avoid the common trap of too many lights, with the selected fittings located in the areas required only rather than “flooding” the home in luminance.

In regard to their security concerns, a standard system was not going to offer them the functionality they desired. Liv in particular had a fear of home invasion and the $900 security systems available from the hardware store were unequipped to stop this. These systems are only armed when you leave the home as having them on during the night with young children occasionally walking up the hallway at night would be quite a nuisance. A more intelligent system was designed ensuring that they could have modes of operation including “Away”, “Asleep” and even “Holiday”. The Away mode armed the whole home whilst the home was unoccupied. The Asleep mode triggered all the external locks into action and had sensors armed at each of these doors and also at the windows most subject to unwanted entry. Finally, and most impressively, the Holiday mode engaged the entire system, but also connected to a portion of the lighting system so selected light fittings could go on and off at night, giving the home that “lived in” appearance.

When the project was completed the young couple had slightly exceeded what they thought would be their budget for all the technology services. But the expected savings on ongoing bills was far greater than they thought possible. They also had an intelligent security package that offered much, much more that they had dreamed. What they felt they were left with was a solution that had an enormous benefit and value to them and the budget had controlled the process without restricting them.

As far as catering for their future lifestyle package, this was simply a case of running some additional wiring and slight changes to the way existing services were wired to allow for some of the new systems such as wireless audio systems and advanced lighting control that would really turn that wow factor up on a Friday night entertaining guests.

Scott, Liv and their children ended up in a home that rewarded their candid fears and desires and was able to deliver on the things they really wanted and needed from their much adored family home.


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