10 tradie tips from The Block NZ’s Peter Wolfkamp

The Block NZ site foreman Peter Wolfkamp is used to cracking the whip when it comes to managing projects. Here are his top 10 renovation tips


1 Planning

Peter: Tradies love working with an organised client. It can mean getting the job done quicker and staying on budget. Changing things and indecision cost time and money.

YH&G tip: The fewer surprises that come up during the renovation, the better, so plan thoroughly to keep these to a minimum.

2 Tools

Peter: If you are doing it yourself, buy the best tools you can afford. Look after them and they will serve you well for years.

YH&G tip: Quality tools will make your job easier. Lock them away when not in use.

3 Communication

Peter: Decide who will project-manage your reno: you, your builder or a project manager? Hold regular meetings then follow up with an email to keep track of changes and create a paper trail of decisions made.

YH&G tip: Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions so all parties are on the same page with decisions.

4 Kitchen

Peter: I look at a kitchen like a workshop; I want good storage, lots of bench space and good flow. The layout of the cooktop, sink and fridge is an important starting point.

YH&G tip: A good work triangle between cooktop, sink and refrigerator enables efficiency. Each side of the triangle should measure between 1.2m and 2.7m.


Bathrooms are all about timeless style and durability.

5 Bathroom

Peter: This room gets a real workout so think about looks and durability. Ventilation is crucial: ensure extraction is close to the shower and ducted outside. Get a plumbing check on this early to make sure there are no hiccups later.

YH&G tip: Avoid a style that will date quickly.

6 Lighting

Peter: There have been big advances in lighting, so a key component of a renovation should be upgrading to energy-efficient LED lighting. Check out the options for home automation and incorporate data cabling when rewiring your home.

YH&G tip: Get a lighting plan done by a specialist. Consider skylights to harvest natural light where you don’t have windows.

7 Flooring

Peter: There are lots of new products coming into the market, so expand your thinking to include engineered floors and composites. In saying that, I still love an old kauri floor!

YH&G tip: In kitchens, choose easy-clean and non-slip flooring. Ensure bathroom floors can handle moisture; and in your lounge and bedroom, consider comfort.

8 Painting

Peter: The key to a great finish when rolling is to “keep a wet edge”. Work from one end of a wall to the other, rolling top to bottom. If you ensure that the overlap is still wet you will get a seamless finish.

YH&G tip: For a no-fail look, use a matte or eggshell finish on walls, and a satin finish on frames.

9 Insulation

Peter: This should be top of mind. Existing Kiwi homes are typically poorly insulated, so effective insulation can be the first step to a warmer, drier and healthier home.

YH&G tip: Remember, hot air rises so contain that heat by ensuring you have good ceiling insulation (teamed with wall and underfloor insulation).

10 Outdoors

Peter: Creating an outdoor room adjacent to your living room adds usable space to your home, provides one or more entertainment areas, and can be used year round in much of the country.

YH&G tip: If you love entertaining outside, invest in a covered outdoor kitchen next to the barbie, complete with a sink, bench and mini fridge.

Photography by: Tom Hollow, Sharyn Cairns/

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