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The renovation of this Wellington villa didn’t go completely to plan

After many setbacks, u-turns and surprises, the owners of this Wellington villa share how their initial renovation idea didn’t quite go to plan

Meet and greet

Jessica Godfrey, general manager of Acme Cups, Sven Wiig, freelance art director, and Otto, 9.

The renovation of this Wellington villa didn’t go completely to plan

They say good things take time. This may be true in the case of wine and cheese, but it’s not what you hope for when planning a quick property flip. Take Wellington couple Jessica Godfrey and Sven Wiig.

They bought their three-bedroomed 1907 villa in 2003 with the plan of renovating and flicking it for a profit within two years. What actually happened was they started a family (Otto joined them in 2008), took six years to complete the interior, and only finally laid down their paintbrushes last year. Ah, the best-laid plans…

Honesty box

The best bang for your buck?
Jessica: Never underestimate the power of a good wall colour. Using the same colour throughout was important in such a small house.

The challenges?
Money, time, energy. Also, the fact that we discovered the house was only being held up by its weatherboards – most of the uprights were rotten.

Worst reno moment?
There were a few! Pulling up the old cork tiles in the kitchen, expecting gorgeous matai floors, only to find there had been a slow leak (which explained the damp) and all the matai was rotten. It was really hard to find recycled matai boards to match, especially at the 38mm width – and, boy, was it expensive. We were starting to get stressed about money at that point.

In the middle of the renovation, after some heavy rain, the earth bank behind us collapsed and fell against the back of the house. It held up renovations and severely affected our budget because the insurance only covered half the price of putting retaining walls in, and our bank was putting a lot of pressure on us to get the retaining done. At this point we had borrowed as much money as we could.

Renovation tip for others?
Have the greater plan in mind: the layout, the materials, the colour palette. Be clear about what style the whole house is going to be – that way, even if your renovation takes years, it will all work in the end. Also, there is rarely a perfect time to renovate. It’s rare to have the money, energy and spare time all at once. My advice? Just get started.

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Nicola Edmonds.

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