Real-life reno: The time a car almost hit our house

ADAM HICKS
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014
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UH OH: The first bit of demo work on our renovation was done by a rogue car that almost crashed into our bedroom.

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HERO: A bold Aussie Tea Tree took the fall for us.
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OLD KITCHEN OR RETRO LOCKERS? Throw away or repurpose, what do you think?
Old kitchen or retro lockers?
BIN OR KEEP? Work shop relic or talk piece?

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Politicians and businessmen mark the first day of construction projects with a ceremonial turning of the sod. We marked the first stage of our renovation by calling the police: it turned out our sod was rotten.

We're currently counting down to the final three weeks before the new builder starts on-site, but the first works of our renovation were actually completed over eight months ago. 

It was about 3am on a Sunday in October when a drunken car thief, aka our sod (there's a bunch of four letter words that also work here, but we'll stick with sod) lost control of the Holden Commodore he'd jumped from just up the street and wiped out one of our carports.

He barely made it a few hundred metres from his first crime scene before he lost control while speeding down the rise that runs towards our house.

One of the major prompts for this renovation is that there is only one bedroom on our top floor, and on this night my whole family were in this room with the car careering towards us while we slept in our beds.

The skid marks through our neighbour's lawn show he was on a direct collision course with our heads, so I'm not exaggerating when I say that this sod could have killed us all.

But that is when a brave Australian stood tall. An Australian Tea Tree that is. I didn't even know there was one in the garden until that morning when the impact ripped it, roots and all, from the ground and changed the course of the car enough that it narrowly passed by the edge of the house and took out the carport instead.

Gotta love a good Aussie!

We woke to the sound of corrugated iron thundering in our ears, and in the confusion I thought it was a cat burglar breaking in through the roof (it seemed logical at the time).

"Wait here," I told Bec as I stumbled off out the front door, rubbing my eyes and wearing only a pair of baby blue undies.

I'm not sure if it was the impact of the crash or the sight of me in my delicates that stunned him, but the driver was out of the car, dazed and walking around in tight circles swearing at himself.

"You alright?" I asked.

"I'm sorry mate, I'm sorry mate, a taxi pulled out," he rambled. "I'll write you a cheque for the damage." 

"Nah, I'm gonna call the cops," I replied.

I mean, who uses cheques these days anyway?

And with that I went inside to put on some pants and alert the authorities and looked out the window to see him high-tailing it down the street.

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He managed to get away, the car was a write off and we ended up on the front page of the local paper

Our top floor is level with the street, and until that point we were planning to build on an extension and create four bedrooms upstairs while renting the downstairs area as a self-contained apartment to help fund the works.

But this episode convinced us to adopt a reverse living concept and move the main sleeping quarters to the safety of downstairs. I guess this proves the adage that you need to live in a house for a while before you do any work to it. Rebekah had raised the worry about passing cars a few times, but after getting out the front with my protractor I'd decided it wasn't a risk we needed to worry about. Oh how wrong I was (she reminds me often). 

A welcomed bonus of the new concept means we no longer need the old carport. Thus, the first part of the renovation was completed for us, and as an extra special bonus, the insurance has recently come to party wit a $7400 settlement (after the excess payment). 

Another positive spin on the story is that we'll have the front page of the paper framed and displayed in our new home. 

Call me sentimental, but I want my home to tell a story. A story about our family - but also a story about the history of the building itself. Forget pops of colour. I want my house to pop with character, and a front page detailing our close call is a perfect vehicle for that.

It also got me wondering if there are other 'treasures' we can unearth from the house and incorporate into the project to add character and save cash.

When the previous owner Brian moved out, he left me a garage full of stuff and I've rummaged through it and found some 
maybe items. I think they're gems - but they could just be rocks. 

Old kitchen or retro lockers? There was a stack of retro kitchen wall cabinets that are pretty badly beat up and hiding in the back corner. We could dig them out, resurface the back and top, sand and paint the doors and use them as a set of lockers in the new play room.

Pulley or industrial chic? There is a cool, industrial old pulley still hanging in the rafters that I reckon will look awesome holding up our Turkish chandelier (more about the chandelier in future columns). 

Work shop relic or talk piece? There is a seriously old school wooden work lamp that I imagine used to get hung in engine bays and tight spaces in workshops. 

Old cutlery or new coatrack? I found a set of old silverware hiding on the top shelf. I did a quick google search and they don't seem to be antiques so I fashioned them into a coat rack. I basically flattened them out with a hammer, bent them 
into shape and then screwed them onto the piece of skirting board that I removed during the downstairs demolition. It didn't come up as nice as I'd hoped, but it's going to live in the laundry and does its job of holding bags and dog leads etc. 

Deer antlers or hat rack? Last, and probably least, I also found a set of deer antlers that could be fashioned into a cool storage solution. But then again, deer antlers have been a bit overdone of late and I'd always feel sorry for the deer everytime I hang up my hat.

Potential is the key word here. They may not work in the new house, but it's worth dusting them off and giving them ago.

What do you think about these finds? Are they trash or treasure? Check out our Facebook page for more pictures. 

BUDGET UPDATE

Total spent to date: $9291.85 (no change this week)

Total remaining: $93264.15 + $7400 = $100,664.15

Adam Hicks is a former journalist who helps run family businesses retailing wallpaper and fabrics with The Inside and offering made to measure curtains with Window Trends. 

- Stuff

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