Foreman Keith sat down with us to discuss his new book, The Block, what it takes to successfully renovate and the mistakes he has made along the way!
What can our readers expect from your book?
“A guide on owner building, I’ve kept it nice and simple. Basically everything I’ve learned over the years of building is in the book. I felt as though I was in a good position to write a book because I’ve done so much of it. The way I see it is all the contestants on the block are owner builders and if they can do it, anyone can do it.”
A lot of our readers live in small homes or apartments, what area would you recommend they renovate if they are on a limited budget in order to add the most value to their homes?
“Obviously Kitchens and Bathrooms sell houses and I think they are they main things to renovate in an apartment, they are expensive but can also add the most value to a home.”
We saw some couples encounter some budgeting issues in the last season of the block. Will the importance of budgeting be a focus throughout the book?
“It is. I think what you should do is sit down with your architects, get all your quotes and try and get a figure in mind and then probably add on 15 or 20 percent. There is nothing worse than getting half way through a project and realising you can’t fund it. It has happened to me, I did an owner build and had to stop working on it for 6 months while I got the money and then started again and it can cause a bit of heartache for the family.”
You do an incredible job keeping your cool on site. Do you have any advice to would be renovators on how to keep their cool throughout the reno process?
“You can’t judge The Block like a normal renovation. On The Block we do a massive renovation in a few months and I think that’s the reason we have so much stress involved. If you are doing a renovation yourself, you can do it at your own pace, its up to you. As long as you’ve got the money, you shouldn’t have too much stress. The key is to have a good carpenter/foreman.”
On The Block the renovations are done to strict time constraints and there are a lot of people helping to make it happen. What time frame would you give to people at home attempting to do a similar renovation?
“If you’re doing a whole house, you probably want to try and knock it off in about 4 months. That gives you enough time to do it properly, without having to do 16-hour days like we do on the block. Instead you can do 8 hours days and be a lot more comfortable. I try and encourage people that don’t know what to do, to not touch anything, leave it to the professional trades and that way you wont go belly up. Take it slow and work well.”
You’ve got two daughters, what advice would you give to those wanting to renovate with a young family in tow?
“Design your build around the way you live, that’s what I’ve done…I knew I had kids. Get your block of land and you can plan different sized rooms. Where as if you get a volume builder to build your house you’re stuck with their design and you can’t actually change anything. That’s the good thing about owner building is you can customise it to the way you live.“