7 Types of Doors to Maximise Indoor-Outdoor Living

Spending time outdoors is part of the Aussie way of life and our houses, as much as possible, are designed to bring a sense of flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. Various types of doors can help make this transition seamless, as well as enhancing natural light, ventilation, visibility and connection with surroundings.

10 Top Design Tips for an Ergonomic Kitchen

Good ergonomics are more important in the kitchen than any other room in the home. Get it right and you’ll create a smart space with good flow where every meal is cooked smoothly and in style. Get it wrong and you’ll be frustrated on a daily basis. Here are 10 clever tips – as well as mistakes to avoid – to help design a fit-for-purpose kitchen.

Building Near Trees? Read This First

Trees can easily be overlooked during the design process, but they can become critical items later on. And don’t think you’re off the hook if you’re not planning to remove any trees to make way for your extension, renovation or new build. Building anywhere near a tree of significance (even if it’s not on your land) can bring with it regulations that might force you to change your design or limit your ability to build at all. It’s best to know where you stand with trees on or near your property early, before the design process gets underway – it will save you from headaches later.

Building Your Own Home? Here Are 7 Essential Lessons

For those of you about to launch into building your own home, you may be asking yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’. Fear not – these pearls of wisdom, passed on by those who have also built their own homes, may be just what you need. The task at hand may seem daunting, but the general consensus is to stick with your gut instinct and plan, plan, plan. If you succeed, you’ll end up with a home that will not only endure the years, but will suit you to a T!

How to Plan a Family-Friendly Home

Building a home can be one of the most exciting and daunting things we do in life. For those attempting it for the first time, there are so many things that can be overlooked during the initial ‘floor plan’ design stage, especially for those who are about to be first-time parents, too. If you are planning on building your own home and you want it to be a place where you can watch your family grow, here are a few key things you may like to consider before the bricks and mortar begin to go up.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Plan an Extension

Extending your home is an exciting prospect, but for many it is quite daunting too – we’ve all heard horror stories shared by those who have gone down that path. It doesn’t need to be that way though. With a little bit of planning, the right advice and some discipline, you can take control of the process and ensure your extension improves your lifestyle for many years to come. Here are 10 questions to get you started and heading in the right direction.

Spreading Out: Where to Extend or Gain Space in Your House

If you are thinking about extending your home, I assume you need more space. First, consider all the ways your house could be adapted to achieve your desires; there may be restrictions according to the type of house you have. If it’s a heritage home, for example, there could be limitations on building works or materials, especially to the facade facing the street. The position of your house on the site – front, middle or rear – can also significantly impact how you might be able to extend, and the site’s topography is a further consideration. A level site can be more accommodating to an extension than one with a steep slope.

13 Hidden Costs Often Missing From Builders’ Quotes

Building and renovating is a new process for most of us, and it can be very daunting if you’re not well prepared. In particular, choosing a builder is one area that can overwhelm a lot of people. This is completely understandable, given the horror stories we often hear and the significant financial investment that’s at stake. After all, you’re playing the builders’ game, and they’re a lot more familiar with how it’s played than you are.

Unfortunately, there are builders out there who take advantage of their experience and exploit their clients’ lack of knowledge. But rather than taking an ‘us versus them’ approach, it’s far better to improve your knowledge of the processes involved, so you can develop an open, informative and transparent relationship with your builder. One of the first steps toward achieving this is navigating the quoting process.

Here are some costs that might have slipped your quote’s net.

Follow the Journey of an Owner Builder: Permits, Plumbing, Preparation for Fit Out

Over the course of the next few months, Sketch Building Design will be following the journey of an owner builder.
We will to take you step by step through each stage of the build, providing you with valuable insight into the process of building your home.
Follow us on this journey, and if you have any questions along the way contact us here.


  • The restump (see previous post) was carried out on a separate permit, which is provided by the company.
  • If at this stage you don’t already have your building permit, no problem – no permit is required to have the plumbing and electricity installed within the existing house. Take advantage of the open floors while you can.
  • It is a 6-8 week wait for an Owner Builder Certificate through the VBA (Victorian Building Authority), so be sure to submit the application well in advance so that the building process is not delayed.
  • You will need your plans ready to be submitted for your Owner Builder Certificate, which will then be sent over to the building surveyor for the building permit. Your building permit will need to be authorised by a private building surveyor.

    As an owner builder, the only thing you will have to do is obtain the Owner Builder Certificate. The plans and building permit can be taken care of by Sketch Building Design.

certificate of consentFor more information on becoming an owner builder, visit the VBA website. Or you can download the Application Kit here.

permit stamp
Now that we have the building permit, we can begin work on the extension.



Now that the plumbing and the electrical has been installed to the sub-floor, the flooring can now begin. We are using foil board Super 15mm insulation to the under floor which are fitting snugly between joists.




The Yellow Tongue 19mm flooring arrives

IMG_3666Daryl from Driptech Plumbing (0413 823 441) begins the work on the stormwater for the new downpipe locations and new sewer for the ensuite.

IMG_3668Line marked out ready for the excavator for the trench


IMG_3677The pipes are in, ready for the inspector. Tomorrow will be back fill.



Backfilling and levelling of site



Clearing for the extension



Back fill completed, cleaned up and levelled out.



As part of the Owner Builder, you will need to get your hands dirty and be the labourer. As you can see below, the owner is taking off the architraves of the existing residence in preparation for the carpenters.








Follow the Journey of an Owner Builder: Making the Move, Restumping

Over the course of the next few months, Sketch Building Design will be following the journey of an owner builder.
We will to take you step by step through each stage of the build, providing you with valuable insight into the process of building your home.
Follow us on this journey, and if you have any questions along the way contact us here.


Currently in its third week, the restorations and addition for this Victorian weatherboard have commenced.

Clearing the front of the house in preparation for the restump:



Relocating the family to the rear of the house, this is how life will be for the duration of the buildIMG_3615


At least the kids are happy



The most important thing when beginning a renovation is to get the floors fixed by a reputable restumping company. A solid foundation will make life easier after this has been done correctly.

In this case, the restumping commenced, but as all renovations go we found bearers and joists to be completely rotted through. The guys from Melbourne Wide Reblocking & Underpinning went about their business and completely re-floored the existing house with new stumps, bearers and joists.

Can’t thank the guys enough for doing a great job.


IMG_3631The restumping begins!








Whilst the floors are open, we’ve got the sparky checking and roughing in the power points.




6 Inner-City Terrace Renovations That Conquer Common Problems

So you bought your dream home in the city – the terrace you’ve always longed for. But hang on, no one ever mentioned the fact that they can be dark, outdated and low on storage space.

But fear not, because clever renovations will solve those niggling problems and ensure your terrace is in tip-top shape. When renovating your terrace, don’t simply update what’s already there.

Use it as an opportunity to completely rethink how your home works and how it can perform better. Read on to learn from the professionals what you can do to fix your architectural issues.

8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space

People are increasingly keen on the lifestyle possibilities offered by open-plan living, but many are frightened off by the idea of rattling around in a big, soulless space.

To avoid an open-plan space looking dull and ‘flat’, the best designs incorporate interior devices that define different zones – playing with the degree of separation between areas, changes in floor level, finish, islands, furniture groupings, slots of daylight and so on.

These deliberate layers can scale-up the perception of space as well as creating a more interesting room to be in.

How to Read Your Architect’s Plans


Reading plans may come naturally to some, but for others who don’t have a sense of space or can’t visualise a plan in 3D, it can be a little overwhelming – there is a lot to take in.

To move forward with your designer or architect’s preliminary plans, you need to have a firm understanding of what you’re looking at. Otherwise, you may end up with a renovation that looks nothing like you had imagined.

Let’s look at a floor plan and its elements in detail.


8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Renovate

Of all the questions that arise along the renovation journey, the first one I put to clients during our first discussion about the project always seems the hardest: ‘What would you like?’ It’s amazing how many times the homeowners stare blankly at each other, realising they don’t actually have a clear idea or vision like they thought they did – and who could blame them? While renovations often occur around a life-changing event (first house, first child, growing family), this doesn’t make it any easier to define exactly what you need … and even if one half of a couple can define it, often the other half has conflicting ideas on the design, budget and what they want to achieve.

To help clarify your ideas and thoughts, I have posed a list of questions for you to consider before you embark on your renovation or extension journey.

5 Industry Tips for Cost-Effective Building and Renovating

We all have lots of ideas on how we plan to furnish and personalise our homes after renovating or building. There are so many great new products and interesting materials at our disposal in a global marketplace.

We see inspiration everywhere; but how to afford even a few dream items when the mundane (yet obviously very necessary) construction elements of the project absorb so much of the budget that we would much rather spend on beautiful finishing touches that express our own tastes and individuality?

The good news is that with some discipline, you can make your build more cost effective. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Sketch Building Design featured on Australia’s Best Houses (7TWO)

Sketch’s West Brunswick Addition was recently featured on 7TWO’s Australia’s Best Houses, a television series that features some of the most exciting and visually stunning homes in Australia. Gary Takle interviews director, Darrin Albert about the permit process and Sketch’s role in the design; as well as Amanda Ayres (Amanda Ayres Interiors) and builder, John Paul Kavanagh (Kavanagh Builders).


Watch the episode now:


The (Sustainable) Case for Renovating Instead of Building

Sketch’s Elsternwick Addition has been featured in the following article on Houzz.com:

While it’s many people’s dream to build a sustainable home from scratch, it can sometimes be kinder to the environment to take what you have already and retrofit with energy efficiency in mind. “Renovating a house is the ultimate ‘upcycling’ of an object and can lead to some creative outcomes,” says Kristine Somerfield of Field Design Studio. Australia has many great examples of historic houses, old worker’s cottages, weatherboards and ’70s brick veneers that have been successfully converted to dream homes.


Connect with Sketch on Houzz.com

Planning a new home or renovation? Houzz.com is a great platform to gather all the inspiration and information you need for your dream home.

Follow Sketch Building Design so we can help you get started. Our projects are featured in many articles, which will keep you up to date with the latest trends, and give you great tips for the best design solutions.



Visit Sketch Building Design’s profile on Houzz.com now!

Add a Servery to Your Kitchen and Make the Living Easy

Sketch has been featured in this article on Houzz.com.


“Historically, serveries have been popular in architectural designs to hide away the clutter of the kitchen from guests and for the maids and chefs to deliver food efficiently to formal dining rooms,” says architect Rebecca Naughtin. “In more recent years, serveries have made a come back … with a transformation.”

That transformation has come about in Australia as a result of our love of the outdoors, and our growing desire to bring the outside in and the inside out. So what are the real benefits of a kitchen servery and how easy is it to put one into an existing kitchen? We ask the experts and find out.

10 Ways Passive Solar Design Can Slash Your Energy Bills

Why pay for energy when you can get it for free? Not everyone has access to full northern exposure but if you have any access to some northern sunshine, it makes sense to cut your energy bills by harnessing the power of the sun. Here are 10 tips to design or renovate your home in a way that makes the most of passive solar principles.


Building a Home: 10 Decisions You Will Never Regret

As exhilarating and fun as it is, building a house can also be a challenging and nerve-wrecking process, for any of the hundreds of decisions you must take can make or break your dream home. So take a deep breath, grab a cuppa, forget trends and have a look at my recommendations for a house that will make you happy for years to come.

Expert Tips for Planning a Welcoming Small Front Yard

The perfect way to create a grand, inviting entrance to a home is with a beautiful garden setting. Large front yards offer an amazing scope for creating these entries with the added potential bonus of a functional garden zone as well. Unfortunately, though, not all front yards are grand in scale, so let’s investigate the exciting options of what can be done with a small front yard that will maximise your street appeal, improve your property value and, most importantly, create that warm and inviting entry for your guests.

Key Measurements to Consider When Designing the Perfect Kitchen Island

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the kitchen island is the heart of the kitchen – a central hub where people gather to prepare food, eat and chat. Therefore, it’s important that it is as functional and practical as it is beautiful. This comprehensive list of key measurements to consider when designing your island bench will ensure it will fit your space and suit your needs perfectly.

Clever Design Ideas for your Bathroom Vanity

From Houzz.com:


The bathroom is one of the busiest rooms in the house – especially in the morning when everyone is rushing around to get ready for work or school at the same time. So it makes sense then, that when designing your bathroom vanity, function and practicality is just as important as style and finishes.
Here are several that caught my eye and cover all the bases.



Planning a Renovation?

Get inspired and follow us on Pinterest!

We’ve just set up boards with our previous work, as well as ongoing inspiration boards with ideas for new projects.

If you’re planning a renovation, this is a great way to collate all your ideas.

Let us help you get started!

Visit Sketch Building Design’s profile on Pinterest.