Trina had some structural issues with her home and so, when it came time to design her new home she decided to do a knockdown rebuild.
Listen as Trina shares more about her journey to rebuild her family home, and how she came to her decision to do a knockdown rebuild. Trina also talks about the help she’s been able to access through her participation in Undercover Architect’s online courses.
Hi, my name is Trina Hornsby and I’m from Orlando, Florida. And I began listening to the How to Get It Right podcast in 2017, because my husband and I knew the house that we were living in, we were going to either renovate or rebuild.
So I needed a starting point. I then contacted Amelia, and she emailed me back, or I don’t know if it was through Facebook, but she emailed me back and told me about her course that she had was offering.
So I joined that, and that helped us to get started with an architect. And back and forth, through her feedback and the architect, we kind of started working. And we have been … probably started in 2017. I got her involved early, and now we are probably five months away from finishing it. So it’s been about three years that we’ve been on this road to building.
It’s a knock down and rebuild. We thought about, should we renovate, but we knew we had foundation problems. So our house was, when the kids would spill something, it would roll down a hill, you know, so you know, your house is slanting downward. So a total knock down.
It was a 1955 house. And it just didn’t flow very well. And we knew … we have three kids that are growing, and we knew we needed more space, it was very open. We had renovated once before, and it was very open, but just not functional. It was too open and not big enough. And we knew we couldn’t really renovate without dealing with our foundation problems.
We had built once before, and my husband had taken over that project. And I felt like it was a vacation home and it was not built, it just wasn’t thought out well. And so we thought, you know, he works full time and I’m a stay at home mom. So I was like, I want to be very involved in it and have my say, because we learned from experience that it just, it didn’t, it didn’t work well, like flow very well. And it was a nice home.
How did you first discover Undercover Architect?
I think I just looked in the podcast app, because I love podcasts, and how to build or, you know, just that’s how I found her originally.
So then I jumped to her website and blog and was looking through all the house plans and all the details she was talking about. Oh, look at this before and after of people’s floor plans.
So I … then I emailed her because, I, you know, she’s Australian, and I’m from the United States.
And I thought well, ‘I don’t know if this is for me’, you know. So she was very kind and wrote back immediately. It was like, yes, you know, ‘I can help anyone’. So I joined her course and that’s how I got started.
What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?
If you’re taking on this kind of financial … you’re paying for a new house, you want it to feel like you did a good job at it. Because we had done it before, we just, it’s like the grill was on a different floor than the kitchen. So when you’re grilling out, you’re walking down the stairs and out, you know, out. We just didn’t think through the floor plan.
And this one, this is the home we’re going to live in. We have a kindergartener, and so we’ll be here, I mean, we’ll be here forever, but you never know. But at least for the next, however long it takes, eighteen, fifteen years?
So we wanted to think about size and not making it too big as they move out, and you know, how they need to play in it, and how we want separation, maybe from them or just really thought through the floor plan. Because we didn’t before, it was kind of wasted space. And we got kind of wooed, I think, a little bit. And this one’s very, more practical, and, but it will also be beautiful.
We had like our… I think our main thing was figuring out a realistic budget and a lot of it was going to have to be in the ground underneath our house. That was where a lot of money is being spent. That you didn’t, you just don’t … you don’t think about it. You think, ah, you know, it’s going to be simple.
It helped us on budget just to be realistic about what things cost, and what you want, and how much that’s going to cost, and how much is going on in the ground that you don’t see to put in your budget, for sure.
The stories you hear about people’s builders, you know, not … that are disappearing during the build or, not disappearing, but you know, messing around or bad relationships, I think, with the builder. That was important to us to not have that. So, yes, we were, since the course, you know, we were mindful about who we’re going to get to do this and have it done well.
What are you doing differently because of this Undercover Architect course?
Because I’ve been able to be in charge of it and have my say. And I feel confident talking to the architect and the builder and managing the whole project. Yeah, I felt like the first, you know, I didn’t know how to get it right. And I learned a lot about what I’m going to need before I start building and, you know, we knew we needed a geotechnical engineer.
I think through the course, like we figured out, oh, are we … our foundation problems. The soil needs to be tested. And yeah, I’ve, I mean, I’ve spearheaded the project, finding the architect. I found the architect and, you know, my husband’s working, so I have time to call.
And I’ve been, you know, when there’s a problem during the build or an architect, sometimes I get involved, but, but she’s really helped me to learn to push it back on the people, that it’s their job. And they need to do it and not me, you know. I don’t need to be, like involved in any drama.
Yeah, I feel very confident because I, you know, you go back to the architect … We probably spent from February to October with an architect. So we took our time, and we, we … I would go back and forth with Amelia to, “How’s this? How does that look?” And then I’d go back.
I felt confident telling the architect “Well, this isn’t working. There’s not enough light.” Because, you know, she recommends lighting. And we think there might need to be more.
I mean, I thought I probably sounded smart, but it was really her telling me what would work better. So yeah, total confidence.
Like last week, I… The peak of our, the details of our exterior were wrong and I could tell. So I immediately looked at the plans because I was like, “Oh, it’s probably in the plans because it didn’t look like that before”. And he had to take it down and make it better because I, you know, I spoke up and said that that’s not right, you know.
So it’s very … I think the main, probably, beginning of this is to find a good team, like our builder listens to me and and the architect listens, they all listen to each other. They’re all just people that we are working well with together.
But as soon as I listened to her, you know, the season one about, you know, what your, where is your orientation of sun, I was hooked. Because I was like, “Oh, that’s, I never thought, I never thought of that”. And I don’t think people do, even when I talk to them. You know people who are building now, I don’t think they consider that.
What was the best thing about being an Undercover Architect course member?
There is a trusting factor that you can, you can feel through the … her. I don’t, you know, I, it’s, you can tell when you have you follow people on Instagram or Facebook, you can tell sort of the genuine people versus sometimes, I don’t know, versus not genuine. I didn’t think the course was, I thought the money that it cost was well worth learning.
I mean, what’s it going to hurt for me to pay a little bit to learn how the process is going to go and, and help us figure out our budget.
It’s going to save us money in the end when it didn’t cost that much for the course in my opinion.
She’s just been such an influence in our process that it’s … You can just tell that she’s not, you know, she’s not just trying to like, oh, here’s a course. She’s very into it and smart.
And I can’t say enough nice things about her. Yeah, I think that the, like, also the feedback that she was giving, and the other members when you, when you have the other members in there, you learn from them.
And figuring out how to get started too, was helpful. Like, when you’re, when you’re taking the course in the beginning, you’re, you know, looking around and seeing what kind of, what other people are doing and what it looks like in your neighbourhood, and then how your setbacks need to be.
And I thought, oh, okay, we’re going to be, we’re not going to be mid build going, ‘oh no, we can’t do this’, because I’ve already done some research. And then you tell, you know, your architect. He knew a lot as well. But then if he knew that I knew, he’s like, ‘oh yeah, okay, we need to make sure this’. And I would remind people, you know, like, “oh, we can’t do that, I think I read somewhere…”, that kind of thing.
Did it help you save you time and money?
I think it helped us to have a realistic budget, for sure! Having a builder involved early, her advice to that, I don’t think I took that as much as I should have. Because I think that would have shortened, that would have definitely shortened our experience, because he had practical advice that applied to our lot.
And a little, you know, if they would have gotten together early, the architect and the builder, I think that would have definitely shortened our experience. And she talks about that all the time. And I thought, oh, why wouldn’t a builder… why would a builder want to, I only had an architect in the beginning. Why would a builder want to jump in on this when I don’t know if I’m going to hire him?
So that, it …
Yes, I do think her course helped save time, money. And if you listen to her advice, and, and seek out everybody on board in the beginning, it would help it go faster.
Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?
It really gives you confidence to say or think, think through things and then say, “no, I don’t think this is right. I think this is your…”, you know, to the builder or to the architect, “I think you need to fix this”. Definitely confidence in communicating.
Having a sounding board. Because she really does. She’s your sound. Like she’s your extra, like, oh, somebody tells you something you’re not sure if it’s true, and then you go back and ask her and she helps you to, ‘no, you’re right. You should tell them or no, that’s probably, you know, probably how it’s going to be.
Why would it hurt to spend a little bit of money to figure out if, if what you’re trying to do, can be done. It’s worth changing what doesn’t work in your house. And you’re not spending, to me, that much money learning how to navigate it and figuring out really thinking about where you’re starting from. And to see where you have to go.
Like it really does put that like, okay, what can I do? You know, how much money do we have to do this? Is this realistic? Thinking through what you want, and building a good team around you, just makes the process so much better, and she helps you do that. She teaches you how to, how to manage it. I haven’t told the builder that we have her. But I want to.
What would you say to others thinking of joining this Undercover Architect course?
I tell anyone that’s building and renovating, I give her the pod … I give them the podcast and then tell them that she has a course. And you can tell the people that aren’t, you can tell when they aren’t listening. But then there are some people that are like, oh, this is great. Like it’s helpful.
Because it’s not a small thing to rebuild or renovate and spend that much money, you might as well do it well. And she teaches you how to do that.