Yasmin is transforming her 1890’s style cottage into her forever home.
Listen as Yasmin shares her experience of planning her renovation, taking into consideration her budget, and how she wants to incorporate as much natural lighting into her new home build.
She’s accessing expert advice the HOME Method program to make key decisions about her project.
Yasmin is a member of HOME Method.
My name is Yasmine Finley. I have family, but they’re all grown up and moved away. So it’s just me and my husband. And this is going to be our forever home.
I’m located in Ballarat, and I’m about to well, working on launching on, not a rebuild, extension, but also it’s an 1890 style of cottage.
So, there’s got to be a little bit of renovation, luckily, not too much from … when I’ve looked at other cottages mine is not in such bad nick, just needs, you know. We’re actually looking to, also this has come to us lately, combine this place into a situation where maybe later on in life, if I create a space at the back in such a way, which is actually going to be very large workroom, I could later on look at converting it into an area for us and that main house get rented out as an extra income because one is never sure of the future. So that is also in my thoughts.
What concerns did you have before you started?
Just being, being aware of the light, where it falls. To try and be as ecologically friendly in the process. And also following, make, being aware of the rules. Even though I’m just extending, not doing a new build.
Even though I know a lot, I still don’t know a lot, if you get my drift. I’d say there’s a lot I’ve learned from this course, a lot. And to be able to actually understand the concept of how light and air and so on falls in the space I’m planning to use, and how I can adapt all this to work practically.
It’s one thing to hear that this place is beautiful, this new place, you’re looking on TV. It’s another thing to know how to actually fine tune the whole setup of how you want your windows, that’s been extremely important.
I’ve done a renovation overseas in a place called India. And I have tried, I tried and tried to apply some of these concepts there. This is before I knew the details, but at least some rough idea. Using ecologically friendly stuff was something I had to give up, they could not get it. It was only a renovation. So here I’m determined that I will be able to do that. That is something I really want to do. And it’s in my control to do it.
Over there I didn’t know so much in terms of raw material, where to get it, what could be used, and so on.
But I’m really grateful to come here, and get a much more in depth idea on, on all these little details which I’m told, which I get in the course from Amelia, in a very practical … And you think oh, well… I wonder about this, and you look it up and there it is. She’s thought of everything, really thought of everything.
Everyone’s needs are different. And everyone’s problems when they come up can be so unusual and different. But you think they are and then you look at her material and you think, ‘oh, there it is, that’s the answer’, because someone else has had it or she’s thought of it.
So it’s really great to be assured of the fact that you’re not going to go to some course which doesn’t apply to you, in some ways, because your needs are a little bit different from others. And maybe they’re not I don’t know, but if I feel they are different and that your requirements are very simple. But will that fit into what she’s teaching? And yes, it does fit in, it just fits in. It fits into a lot of needs I think, really it does.
There’s nothing she’s left out and it improves, it improves as time goes by. So I feel really good about this course.
What challenges were you worried about before you started?
I guess, knowing how to adapt my budget to what I want. And two things actually: knowing how to adapt my budget to what I require and as well as understanding how to fit … this is silly, but the windows to create this light, enough light into the place.
Because my build is going to be also a very large workroom, which I wanted heaps of space for, and later look at living in. And I do things like jewellery making. I’m also a counsellor. I want corners around the place. So yeah, to make sure that I had enough lighting without having to have masses of lights around the place, and also to be warm enough, because Ballarat is extremely cold.
So trying to conceive whether I’d make a mistake within my budget, because I think there’s no other way, I just have to put up with it. I don’t want to make that mistake. Light and heat are very important. And given that I don’t want anything too fancy, I want to be able to have this big open space. My requirements for, other than shelves, I guess, are not very, not very demanding, I think.
So to be able to go through this course, it will help me feel or get a better feeling of how to work it, I think. Because Amelia seems to say and I think she’s right, that you can, you can, you might have to make adjustments sometimes, but you can actually reach out and rework what you first thought you wanted, and sort of reject some of the concepts and apply them in another way.
To be able to have someone you can talk to, is great. Whether what you’re thinking is going to work with the material you think might work, or can they suggest someone else. Just to be in a bounce of ideas like that even.
How did you first discover Undercover Architect?
Oh, I’ve been, I’ve got my eye on her since I went to India, before I went to India, which was in 2018. I noticed her. She popped up somewhere, and I’m a big researcher. I research and research and research. I don’t stop researching. That’s my thing. And I come across things nobody else comes across, that’s how you know.
And out comes Amelia’s show and I’m like, exploring it, and I’m finding, wow, she’s so generous with her, her explanations, with her information. She’s someone I should keep an eye on.
So throughout the time in India, because I wasn’t just doing that, I was also preparing myself for the Australia renovation. Where I could, I knew I could do things more the way I wanted to, rather than be a little bit out of control as it is in India. I had my eye on her, the little details she provided, of course, I couldn’t be too much.
But she was in my list of, you know, persons I can go back to and keep referring to, as time went by when I had some moments that I could keep up with the research. So that’s how I had her on tap, and came back.
And then while I was kind of gearing up. I came back in March last year, which is in the middle of the lockdown. And I, she popped up and I saw her ad at some point in the middle of the year. And I’m sort of contemplating, took me a while, took me a while to get used to the idea. And then one day I thought, well, this is an investment. And it’s going to help me in so many ways that will be kind of like, reassuring to my plans.
So I took the plunge and, but it took me a while I can tell you, because I was unsure of my decision whether I was being too, I’m one of those people just dive in, that’s my nature. I don’t, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. If I feel like it and that I’m old enough to work out if you miss, you’ll miss your chance, if you don’t just do it. So that’s when I decided that was it. I just applied.
Did you consider joining any other course out there?
Yeah. I have lots of books I refer to as well. I thought that would do me. But then I thought no, actually it would be so nice to talk to someone local. And for them to advise me. And in a way, this is an advice sort of venture I’ve gotten into where it’s a course, but it’s still an advice section you feel you could talk to someone, but I have heaps of books.
I’ve accumulated literature, I’ve you know, downloaded in PDF format which answers some of different things about design and all that.
But still, to talk to someone on a practical level is a big plus point, someone who’s generous with their information, and not using it as a tool just to leave out bits that make you think, ‘oh, maybe I should just, you know, hire them to do the job’. And yet I don’t have the cash.
You know, people talk about, for instance, people talk about saving money, if you do it this way, you can save electricity bills, blah blah. But at the end of the day, my situation is such. After that there’s nothing left. So there’s no point of me thinking of what I’m going to save. There’s nothing left when it’s over. That’s it. I’ve been a single mother too long.
And so no, it’s good to have that caution in the start to be able to size up, because my requirements are so different. I can’t think of the money I’ll save on electricity in four years or two years or even one year. It has to work right at the start, or it’s no good for me. That’s just one example.
What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?
I believe that whatever you do in terms of a project, be it a building project or a being a chef as well, so a restaurant or anything. You must know that back to front, never mind who you employ. Because you cannot tell them with confidence what you want without feeling that they think you’re an idiot because you don’t know the reality. You must know the reality. You must be better than them in concept.
And, and then you get someone maybe, depending on, because, obviously building is different. They have, there’s a good architect who gets what you want and accepts what you want. Then it’s good.
I don’t, haven’t had much experience in architects and building designers, but I do believe I need to know what I’m asking about. That this is feasible. I don’t want to give them some airy fairy impossible task.
And in any, in any project, I think that’s really important. Otherwise they turn around and look at you as not being real, realistic. And maybe even, you get some gradually manipulated into a situation where you have satisfied. And this is where I plan to live.
So I just, I took the course on so that I know the ins and outs of how it all works here, and where I can get this and what is possible, what is not possible. So what do I do to work around that. And I think Amelia’s course offers all that.
What are you doing differently because of this Undercover Architect course?
I’m being more cautious, being more careful, because that’s her advice. And I thought, hold back. Yes, she’s right. Get to the end of the course. Unless something you, I am in a situation where I have to move out where I am now, which is a rented place.
And I, in India, I lived on site. So you know, I had dust flying and all sorts of things going on. But one stage, the veranda had no windows, no glass. And I realised by living there, it was much better.
And Amelia mentions that in her wonderful notes, where she and her children are moved in with her husband to one of the places, she had lived in a building site, literally. So we’re trying to get there. I had to, I have to try to pack, so we can move out. And I think that by moving into the space, my ideas of how things should be placed, which is very, very important.
I’ve realised design is very important in terms of being sure of your size, which is something with the other project, I didn’t have to worry much. But with this because of extensions, and changes where I might have a bathroom, where there was no bathroom, or what is the final product in order to get the builder to understand and follow your instructions exactly. Those things have to be read, have to be ready and I agree with her.
With the other one was different, I had all these workers who just did what they did. And then workers in, in India not as expensive here, nowhere near, poor things. They really struggle. So I could be a little bit, sometimes changing my mind about a few things, not much, but just a few. Here, I have to be just so precise. And if I’m not, then mistakes are committed. I can see that very clearly.
So I moved in and I can decide where my shelves, or cupboards, or whatever going to go, for instance in the kitchen. I can see it more clearly by living there. And I think that will be very, very helpful.
And so being cautious, not rushing in and looking for a builder straight away, just living there. Getting my sizing right, getting the design right. Being absolutely sure. Because I’ve called the builder or so here.
When I first, when the vendor, how do you say, while the COVID lockdown was done, you still got people from the building industry visiting you. And you found that they obviously needed the one thing which I was unprepared for. I had an idea of what I wanted, but I didn’t have sizes up.
So everything I got from them was an estimate. And you really want a precise figure and you want a builder who knows what you want.
But, so the most important thing is the design. Live there, get it right, then go ahead with getting your quotes together. And I’m sort of three quarters through that.
Has the Undercover Architect course helped your budget?
Yes, just being cautious has saved me from being vague about what I wanted. Or not being specific when I’ve had those couple of times.
As I now look at myself and think, well, that was a bit of a waste of time in hindsight, because I didn’t realise how specific it is in, in this country, that way, you can save money and time by being just specific and decisive about your design.
About, you can’t tell someone, look, I’ll tell you tomorrow. It’s best to give them, here’s this item, please give me a quote. It’s all there, the details. And know what he, what I can do to save some money and time as well, in terms of costings. Then I didn’t have that tool, I should say.
But it has saved me money now. I can see it will, is what I’m saying. Because otherwise I was planning to do it another way, which now I can see might have been dicey in terms of spending too much money.
Did the Undercover Architect course save you drama + stress?
Oh, just by giving me information on how to proceed with my design. And understanding with greater depth about how the sun moves around. Things are not thought of in terms of where the windows should go, and why they should go like that. So far, those are the things I’m learning about, I’ve only come to that point, there’s other things that I still have to, about that.
So if I’d read it, rather than hear someone actually go down and tell you, you know, as a human being, I’m personally very visual. So for me, that works much, much better. And then when I read something, I can actually get the concept better, simply because I’ve been listening to what Amelia has been explaining. So everything marries after that. Her explanations, and then you read something in line with that, and you can marry it and you can see, understand how to proceed.
So if I hadn’t done that, I would have made mistakes. I would have half understood some of the stuff I’d read. And maybe I would have found that didn’t really apply to Australia. You know, so many things involved to have someone doing it from Australia.
For me, there’s, I don’t think there’s anybody like that, really. You get some information from architects. In fact, Amelia knows one of them, I noticed she had an interview with them. It’s just not as complete. And that in itself can be very frustrating.
Because you then, when I presume when the show’s over, you think, well, I didn’t get that out of it. I wonder what, what they would have said, but it’s all finished, because it wasn’t complete enough.
So by getting a grasp on so many aspects of what she teaches, you know, in terms of design, in terms of how to handle your builder, which is very important. What to do if things are not working out. What to do when you’ve got plumbers in and what they expect from you. And what you should provide and be ready with. Electricians, what are the ins and outs of going about that. Tilers tiling.
And if you’re not very hands on, what, you know, those are the things you have to account for and that is what she brings up one after the other, she deals with them. Whereas some of them you’ve not even thought of, you haven’t even gotten that far. But you have to if you’re going to start a project like this.
What was the best thing about being an Undercover Architect course member?
Oh, gosh, learning about the design. I think that’s been really interesting. The emphasis on design, and being careful about it. I still have lot to learn. But also, if I’m sort of still toying with some of the things she said, as to whether I’ll be able to get it right.
So it’s given you an overall unbiased picture, and realising that the importance of the design, I think comes first, then everything else. Because you can, once you know your design, once you know your sizes, which I never realised how important it was, you can and you’re set in that how it’s going to be. You can move on to the next, and the next step.
And whether you can do it, even whether you can get a satisfactory enough design together, or whatever. And, and project it yourself or you need help. You know, It makes you look at yourself a lot more. Is this going to happen? Or do I really need to splurge and invest in that? Was I, mean, for me, I don’t know if I can at this point, but at least I’m reading up on it. Learning. Trying to understand as much as I can.
Because as I said, I’m not doing a full build, I’m just doing three rooms, two small and one large, with a bathroom to share. So we’ve got two bathrooms. And, but the other rooms are just like a study and a room. A room I call because that’s where one might meditate, exercise, do whatever. And so can I even then, it’s not a small, you know, the workroom is going to be enormous.
I want it to be spacey. I saw something on Renovation Australia, Restoration Australia, which really was what I wanted. And so I’m still contemplating. So she really makes you look at things and be able to become, eventually decide.
It’s just the knowledge that she provides that allows you to get to the end of the line, but then go back and see what’s left.
What would you say to others thinking of joining this Undercover Architect course?
I think they should. I mean, it’s, it’s silly to think that … if you’re, well, if you’re like me, where you have nobody there. And I know, I know these days, it’s even harder to get even friends to whole heartedly pitch in and hold your hand while you’re trying to work things out or be part of your whole build. Everyone’s busy. And if you want to do that, because of the fact you’re maybe limited in funds. I like doing it. I’m a hands-on person anyway.
But lots of people just can’t conceive doing it themselves. I have a few friends like that. And they want to get someone to do it. And then, because they know nothing about it. I’ve often heard them complain afterwards. ‘Oh, well, you know, the architect didn’t quite understand what I said, or the plumber didn’t quite get what I wanted. Or the builder wasn’t listening too. I didn’t want this area to be like this. But what to do, we’re stuck with it’.
You know, all that shouldn’t happen if you know.
So for them to at least know the process and to be able to recognise when things are going to flow the way you want them, only because you know and the builder knows you know, or whoever it is that’s working on.
It’s very important to have someone, you can’t go in blind. Not, not unless you’re a millionaire. You can’t go in blind.
Anything else you would like to share?
One more thing I’d like to say, is that I really like the way that Amelia presents everything. She’s very human. You know, you really feel she’s talking to you directly. And she’s very down to earth, which really appeals, is very appealing to people, I would say.
It’s not nice having some stiff person or someone you can’t relate to at all, or someone who makes you feel like your information, your knowledge is so inadequate, you’ve just got to not ask. She talks to you like she’s been there. And that’s what I like about it.
She like, she’ll laugh about something she did mistakenly and, and she does it like ‘ha, silly me’, you know what it’s like without saying. And you know what she means. So I really like that, you know, human touch about her that she’s not necessarily putting on a face all the time where she’s giggling at things, which we all do.
It’s very human that way. You feel very relaxed about it.