When building a cost effective home, Julia turned to Undercover Architect for support and guidance.
And even though Julia is a landscape architect, she found great additional value in Undercover Architect’s HOME Method course.
With Amelia Lee’s support she created the design brief, a functional and fantastic floor plan, and oversaw construction of a beautifully finished, cost effective new home.
Julia is a member of HOME Method and Home Design Masterclass.
My name’s Julia van der Meer. I am a single mom and I have two teenage boys. And we live on the Sunshine Coast, which is in Queensland, in Australia.
And I am a Landscape Architect. So I don’t think Amelia knows. I’m stealth mode.
I didn’t let her know just because I just wanted to learn new things and not have any input. I just wanted to be open to what Amelia had to suggest.
And so I came across Amelia, probably on social media, and I just thought she sounded wonderful.
So I enrolled in the first class, and then after that, I purchased a property, another property on the Sunshine Coast, for the, which I thought I’d develop as an Airbnb property. So just something to like, rent out, rent it out. And then in… and then I decided… so I did up some plans with a building designer. Then I decided that we thought we’d actually move, live there.
So I knew that I had to design the house really well. Just to make sure everything was right to make sure we were using the site well.
That we, it was going to be cost effective, and that we weren’t going to come across any problems during the build and sort of have regrets that we didn’t do a design that we’d love.
So even though obviously I have the background and I knew about orientation, all the aspects that Amelia talks about a lot. Orientation and, and levels, and light, and space, all that sort of those design principles, there was a lot to learn.
So I picked up so much from doing Amelia’s course it was just excellent.
Can you share some more about your project?
Originally, well, there’s a, there’s a shack on the property at the moment. It’s just over 600 square metres. And council here allows you to have, to put on a second dwelling, a studio.
So I was going to renovate the existing one and add a smaller studio. And then, but now I have, because it wasn’t structurally sound my builder came and had a look at it. We’ve actually, it’s just been demolished right now. actually. It started, the demolition started a couple of days ago and we’re actually building from scratch but keeping the same… to have my second studio, or have the studio there, the second dwelling, I’ve had to keep the footprint of the original house. Which is good, yeah.
So it’s small. It’s a small build, it’s not large. I’ll have the nice guest house at the back, and I was really interested in having nice finishes which Amelia kept in mind and really helped me with. And it was, yeah, we wrote the brief at the start and she made sure I stuck with it through the whole design process, yeah.
What concerns did you have before you started?
Well, from a construction point of view and being a female dealing with, you know, builders and all the different tradesmen, and I think Amelia talks about that sometimes when she was early on dealing with building, how do I say it, yeah, people on building sites.
I just wanted to not feel intimidated. To feel like I knew… had… I was confident going to the build, that was important to me. Knowing that I knew why I had made certain decisions. Why we have chosen to design the house a certain way, and just just to be able to manage the build a bit myself.
What did you do differently because of what you learned?
Well, Amelia just has such a great knowledge with her, and her resources are amazing in terms of finishes. Just some things you don’t think of.
I think one of the first modules in our masterclass was even just looking at the driveway. The first thing you should do is sort of look at your driveway levels and work from your curb in. Which I knew about, but that just sort of reminded me that’s one of the first design elements you should look at. I didn’t know a lot about finishes.
Orientation was the really big thing that Amelia spoke about a lot, and it’s the most important, she thinks. And I sort of, most design, the most important aspect of designing your house, getting your living areas on the facing the right way. Your windows, you know, your larger windows on the right side.
So I had done an early design, and I thought it was, I worked with a building designer, I thought it was pretty good.
But then once Amelia… I had VIP Reviews (available as a Member Upgrade in HOME Method), so I couldn’t recommend, recommend that more highly! Having a VIP. She sort of did three or four reviews for me. And they were just so great. And just watching her sketch the design, and on the video, in front of your eyes was just amazing. She’s remarkable. Her knowledge, and it just all makes sense. When she’s designing it for you, that’s great.
It’s an investment though. It’s a great investment because I figure if you can save … if you get caught out in the building stage and you realise you’ve forgotten something where you want to change windows or walls, that’s when it gets really expensive.
Whereas, if you can get it all right in the early, in the design stage, it’s wonderful.
And Amelia even had us putting in our furniture, existing furniture, future furniture, we had to think about what furniture we wanted in each room and made sure the design fit in all those elements. So it’s wonderful.
What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?
Well I had had some quotes. Building designers are really expensive. I’ve had a couple of quotes for building designers for my project, and they’re, it can be up to $20,000. $18,000 to $20,000, some of the quotes I got.
So, I just think now with online, Amelia was just so accessible, it was just so easy. I was doing it during COVID, when we had the original, the initial lockdown in Australia. So it was wonderful because we could still do, get through all our resources and talk to Amelia online. And if there was something we didn’t know about, in our discussion, we have all our questions on Facebook, and she would refer us to one of her podcasts or another resource.
So we just, it was just so easy to refer to those and listen to those, and then come back to the course. So I think it was a great option.
These days, also, because you can kind of do the course anywhere, wherever you are, anywhere in Australia. You can be in a remote town, you can be … and I just did at my own pace too, which was great. Whenever I had time. If I was sitting waiting, picking up the kids from school, I’d listen to one of the modules.
So it’s just a great way to do it at your own pace, I think.
What did you particularly enjoy about the Undercover Architect course?
Just the attention to detail, I think was great.
With the course, she just outlined in the modules and all the specifics, like every room. What the dimensions, what dimensions you need to say, for a bedroom, what you need to allow for a bed for the, for the side tables. Space to get around all the furniture.
All those details were just fantastic. They were so specific, the resources were just amazing.
And even with, say the kitchen, all the things these days that you can include in the kitchen. She just sort of outlined all those possibilities. So we’re not having to do the research ourselves.
And she would always have links to the, to further information. So we could read on about that. So definitely all the attention to detail was, was great, yeah.
Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?
Probably stress, because now I have confidence that I’m going out into the world with Amelia’s blessing. And of course, money. Because everyone always, always, goes over budget I think.
But having put in all the groundwork, resolved everything during the design, early design stages, with Amelia, I think will, will mean that the build will be on, more so on budget, yes.
Did you have a favourite part of the Undercover Architect course?
Okay. Um, I love the Facebook group. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media normally, but the group was great. Because everyone was really supportive.So that was good. And I just think the VIP reviews were just fantastic. Really, really just so exciting, to get them and to listen to Amelia’s feedback and wonderful ideas.
And you realise that everyone’s, everyone’s got their own challenges with their site, with their budget, with where they’re at. So, I don’t think anyone should feel intimidated joining, because everyone’s at their own stage or in the journey.
And Amelia addresses everyone individually, to help them where they’re at.
What would you say to others who are thinking of joining?
It was a great course and the return on investment I think, is definitely worth it. Although I haven’t done my build yet, but just the way my plans have been resolved.
And I just think it, it avoids the problem of getting into your build and realising you’ve forgotten things, you’ve made mistakes, perhaps you haven’t just thought about certain elements like that, and that you really cover this.
Which is, you know, things like orientation and light and designing your site well.
The personal approach that Amelia offers is just wonderful.
Is there anything else that you think people should know?
I’m just going to say thank you, Amelia, for offering such a wonderful course. And her team was great. I always found they were easy, easy to communicate with, they got back to us really quickly. And they just supported us really well throughout the course. So thank you.