He’s probably New Zealand’s best-known builder, but his top tips for home renovators are undeniably straightforward.
âI’m going to be very cheeky when you ask me for three home improvement tips and just say they are: plan, plan, plan,â says Peter Wolfkamp.
âKnow what you want and what contractors information you are going to use. Then plan what you are asking them to do, when they are going to do it.
Talk to Hosted stuff as part of First Rung: Reno 101, a new podcast on everything you need to know about planning your home, Wolfkamp says renovators also need to think about supplies – what and when you’ll need them to make sure they’re available and don’t delay work.
Homeowners who oversee their own projects, including outsourcing the builder, plumber, electrician and other trades, often underestimate the extent of schedule management work, says Wolfkamp.
âYou have to be very well organized and you have to constantly talk to your (trades) so that you know who is responsible for ensuring the progress of the work, without significant gaps. “
French farm project
With over 30 years in the construction industry, Auckland based Wolfkamp has had many remarkable projects in his professional life.
Last year he was renovating a dilapidated villa in Devonport.
But one of them was the three-month renovation of a century-old farmhouse in the south of France.
âIt was fabulous for the food, the wine and the scenery, but also really, really, interesting to work on something so old.â
The local building techniques were different, but the owners were happy that Wolfkamp introduced Kiwi methods.
âUsually their interior partitions are all brick, roughly like a clay brick. And I said, well, it’s not really something that I do. What if we were doing structural work and plasterboard?
Wolfkamp, ââwho has just completed his ninth season as foreman on The New Zealand Block, and who also has a radio show on Newstalk ZB on Sundays, says it’s great that Kiwis are so passionate about DIY and âgive it a tryâ.
“Good hat, good feet”
However, he thinks we need to put more emphasis on making our homes warm and dry.
âAn old saying about houses is ‘good hat, good feet’ – that makes a good house.
âMost of us come across a house that needs work. We see that it is poorly insulated, that there are drafts, that there may very well be leaks, that it has no fixed heating. Among a thousand other things you want to do at home, you really need to look at these basics.
Having thermally efficient homes should also be a priority, he says, given that many New Zealand homes cannot meet the World Health Organization’s standard of maintaining an indoor temperature of 18 degrees Celsius.
Respect the professionals
Wolfkamp says the flip side of Kiwis’ attitude is that we don’t always recognize that some work is best left to professionals.
âThe construction is considerably more technical and more complex than in the past, so I think we have to respect what the professionals do.
âSay you’re an owner with a lot of enthusiasm, but not a lot of skill, then sweat equity is the best thing you can do. “
By that, he means that homeowners can help businesses like builders, plumbers or electricians by clearing out trash, emptying trash cans, and generally helping out.
âI mean, looking at your builder with a broom is costing you about $ 60 an hour. So why not be active on the site, come in and help out that way?
“And don’t underestimate the power of a cup of tea and a scone to keep builders on track.”
If you are deeply renovating or want to start furnishing your home, check out First echelon: Reno 101. To find out more, click here or download, subscribe and listen here.