I’ve been wanting to share tips and stories from our members for quite a while now and when I saw that one of our top contributors, Emma Carrera was coming close to the end of her renovation, I thought it was the perfect time!
Emma has used our group for lots of questions but has also given back, providing valuable feedback & tips, and trusted recommendations for other members.
I’m pretty proud (but not surprised!) that she has used a few of our Trade Directory partners along the way. I asked Emma a few questions about her experience and here’s what she had to say!


Yvette – In my words, ‘your builder can make or break your build’…what is it about Pat and All Things Building that has made your experience as good as it has been’?

Emma – Gosh, where do I start!? I have said that statement many times over because I’ve seen my fair share of horror stories and if there’s anything I can impart – it’s to trust your gut. It’s that instinctual feeling of who you can “work well with” day in, day out, for the next 3, 6 or 12 months!

I believe the reason our experience was so seamless – was Pat’s, and also his teams’, solutions-based approach. For us, being inexperienced for a renovation of this size, he was the calm to the storm, the yes to a no, the straight forward honesty that’s hard to find in a crowded space. We bounced off him and his team with what was doable, what was worth fighting for, and what was worth sacrificing – but ALWAYS coming up with some type of solution that we were happy with. In a nutshell; strong communication, excellent trades, flexibility, cleanliness, and laughter along the way!…


Yvette – What has been a favourite choice you have made?

Emma – My favourite choice (and no renovator picks a FAV easily!) would have to be a tie between our tiles and our flooring. We never had a big budget, but Sharryn McNamara from Amber Tiles Seaforth helped me choose a colour scheme that was affordable and striking and still looks high end. She also helped me source beautiful Jamie J Tap wear and a vanity, the icing on the cake.

Now I could write a whole article on flooring alone – as there are SO many options now to suit the stage of life you’re at and they’re worth exploring – for us, 3 boys under 8 (including hubby does that make it 4?!) we adore our hard-wearing, 100% waterproof, soft underfoot, Hybrid floors by Ash at Lifetime Floors. Hardwood is not the only option these days – functionality often reigns supreme and colour options are endless!


Yvette –  What is the best piece of advice you have for someone about to embark on their renovation journey?

Emma – BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET. Actually, did I mention Budget??… When Pat first uttered the words “google docs” – he had me at “hello”. It may seem painstaking and laborious, but it’s worth every second of your time to price out as much as you can before commencing – and it’s where a spreadsheet can navigate your build to success. I did my research from this invaluable community and priced out options rather than just going off what you might think. I was surprised at how competitive local suppliers can be – you just have to ask! Having a running sheet on the go helps you work out where you can pull funds from to achieve what’s most important to you. The one part of the build I would always allow more for – is electrical.


Yvette –  Any regrets/tough lessons learned?

Emma – No regrets as everything’s a learning experience, there really wasn’t anything we had a “hard lesson” on. For me personally – I work from home, and most certainly stepped away from my business whilst we built, one thing I would say – is being on-site, or having someone to project manage your choices when you can’t be there, will make your build speed by, as I felt like I made decisions almost every day from the moment we threw the first hammer – not to mention the 12 months before in planning phase.

It’s also worth mentioning there are other options other than architects. We used Action Plans in Manly and we never felt we compromised with the finished design and product at a more affordable price. Bill Derrin worked closely with Pat at the end stage of our plans so we knew we wouldn’t submit a DA – have it approved, only to find out you couldn’t afford to build it! The chicken or the egg analogy – our discussions with Pat allowed me to go to Action Plans with an idea of what we could create with our budget.


Yvette – What are you most looking forward to when your house is finished?

Emma – Anyone who knows me – knows I love a cold beer/glass of wine while having people over – and our whole build focused on entertaining, bringing family and friends together in an open, beautiful, stress-free space that could double for “adults” after hours as much as it could provide for kids play-dates, sleep-overs, a home office for me and functionality that would see our family carve out a lifetime of memories over the next decade and then some. A house for now – that we could grow into.

As much as “the house” is important, I often think the part that gets neglected in a build is integrating the outdoor area once the house is completed – and Pat ensured we never lost sight of this. Bedrooms, after all, are just for sleeping. The heartbeat of your home life is where you “hang out”. Pat’s team went the extra mile and ensured all our outside areas met the match of what was inside – no easy feat when you’re working to a budget. There’ll be endless days and nights, kicking back and just soaking it all up, indoors and out – I guess “living – not existing” is the best way to describe it!

A huge thanks to Emma for opening up and sharing her experience! I’m so glad that she has found our group valuable and truly hope that she and her family enjoy their new home! I also hope that she continues to remain in our group as a positive contributor now that her renovating journey has come to an end…there are always things to be learned and shared by all of us knowledgable ladies!