Ph 0450 922 887
Home   ›   Sand pit or sand castle?

Sand pit or sand castle?

By Trae Flett

Some people describe insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. I disagree. Insanity is starting a build four days after giving birth and living on site!

So I might be exaggerating a little bit there, but if I’m honest there were definitely days (weeks? months?) when I questioned why on earth we decided to extend our home when we knew we would have not just a toddler on site but a newborn, too. The answer being that said newborn needed a bedroom as keeping her in a cupboard is frowned upon. Plus it was better to do it before she was crawling.

Our Perth builders, Exactus, tried their best to keep the sand and dust at a minimum by constructing temporary walls and sealing up doorways with gaffer tape (is there anything gaffer tape can’t do?) but of course, some still got in. At one stage, where a new wall had been constructed but not joined by a cornice yet, a contracted electrician caught all the dust on his side of the wall as he buzzed a channel in to it, but took no notice of the plumes of dust migrating to the other side. A thick layer of brick dust covered the whole room; our couches, our curtains and some soft toys weren’t able to be salvaged.

I tried to remain all zen about the constant sand and dust, but the feeling of grit under foot is akin to nails down a chalkboard for me. Looking after a new baby and a toddler, general household duties and finding time for some writing all on very little sleep, I realized pretty quickly I would have to put vacuuming the floor down the bottom of the priority list. It helped that our ‘tenant-blue’ carpet was to be pulled up and replaced, but my inner clean freak still didn’t like it and I made up for it by directing my dust busting skills elsewhere – seriously, you should see my splash back, it is shining!

With all the banging and sawing and dust particles flying around I tried to spend as much time away from the site as possible during the day. The bone rattling drilling in to the bricks pushed me to my limits, though the baby didn’t seem to mind at all and Tricky was quite happy to don ear muffs and keep playing through it all!  


Living on top of one another in one half of our tiny house wasn’t fun. The furniture from the kids bedrooms was crammed in to our tiny lounge/dining and navigating our way around it all without stubbed toes was a mission. Add some LEGO on the floor and you’re guaranteed to trip over. Whilst I was lamenting that it is impossible for a house to look tidy when all the contents are piled high in one room, the toddler was loving it and thought “camping” in the lounge room was the best thing ever.

After hearing horror stories of renovations I had psyched myself up for things going wrong all the
time but there were only a few small hiccups that occurred. A wall was put in the wrong spot for the bathroom thanks to an earlier copy of our plan being on site at the same time as the revised copy. When it was noticed (at half height) we were told straight away and after having a look and a bit of a chat, Nicholas and I actually decided to leave it as it was and not have it corrected. Funnily enough when the house was built by my parents in the 1970s one wall was put in the wrong spot then, too, so it seems to now be a bit of a building tradition in the family! A few delays in products arriving and a mirror going in the wrong spot were minor inconveniences and the skip bin catching on fire was actually pretty funny (OK, catching on fire is a bit much, it was just smouldering slightly). But the thing is, I don’t mind if people make mistakes – hey, I make them all the time – it’s how they’re handled that matters, and Ralph and the team were quick to correct anything that was not going to plan or let us know in advance when suppliers were holding everything up. But all up, we finished slightly ahead of time and that’s a win, right there.

Living on site meant we saved a lot of money and let us see the amazing progress every day. Seeing a slab transform in to a house before our eyes definitely helped us keep our eye on the prize when the strain of living in half a house, and my own struggles with PND got on top of me. It also gave us the opportunity to really get to know some of the Exactus team, who it turns out are quite the friendly bunch.


I think kids are excellent judges of character and my boy adored the team. He learnt all their names and would excitedly announce when they’d arrive each day, run out to see them and even started drawing the guys in his pictures. They were all so lovely to him, chatting to him about the big trucks and patiently answering his questions. One day he even cried when he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye before they left. Nawww. But I knew in the first week of the build that I’d like the guys after hearing them jovially singing along to a 90s hit on the radio together.

Being quite obsessed with all things clean, one thing that I noticed that was very different between our Exactus site and the other building sites in the area was how free of litter ours was. Walking down to Tricky’s school, the road is now strewn with Maccas wrappers and ice coffee bottles from a site where the builders just drop things when they finish. Ours made sure things were in the bin, or back in their own cooler bags. I made them cookies and tried not to look too confused when they talked to me to show them how appreciative I was of their efforts.

Before our eyes our sand pit was beginning to show signs of being a sand castle, but the question still remains…

Next up: Was it worth it?

← Return to Blog
Glengariff Drive kitchen

Testimonial from Mark & Gina, Floreat

Rated Exactus 10/10 “Being a first time renovator, I wasn’t sure what to expect given…


Skipton Way entry

Testimonial from Julia & Simon, City Beach

Rated Exactus 10/10 “For our first renovation, we have had a great experience with Exactus…