Amanda and Damien Lavercombe and their family are no strangers to renovations. They've done several renovations and have just wrapped up their latest in Mayfield. For a year they worked away, dubbing the house 'Errol'.
When they purchased him, Errol started out as quite feral, but they knew, like the Australian Crawl lyrics to the song of the same name say, everybody would want to be like him at the end. Before the Lavercombes fixed it up people wondered if it might be demolished, but instead it evolved into a spacious creation with carefully sourced materials and bright white and soft blue interiors.
"This house was really good because we redid everything inside it; we didn't have to go for approval," Amanda says. "We just remodelled it so we had four bedrooms and two baths. Previously it had three bedrooms and one very scary bathroom."
When they first bought it a friend compared it to the house out of the horror movie Saw with evidence of cockroaches, termites and rats.
"It had been layers upon layers," Damien says. "We estimate the original house was built between 1915 and 1920 and the 1950s was the original reno. In the '70s was when the main extension was done."
"We uncovered heaps and heaps of wallpaper, when it came off we found heaps and heaps of drawings," Amanda says.
The two have lived in Newcastle for 20 years. They lived in Belmont while they renovated here. Amanda is a primary school teacher and Damien is a handy man. He has many trade friends, and they're the ones he calls in to tackle the older houses. Amanda helped make sure they stuck to a budget. They source everything second-hand and she "trolls marketplaces."
We just remodelled it so we had four bedrooms and two baths. Previously it had three bedrooms and one very scary bathroom.Amanda Lavercombe
They sourced the two front windows second hand.
They found the French doors on the side of the road in Marks Point.
They found the what is now the front screen door under the house.
"I was obviously here doing mending and prepping and Amanda would be sourcing." Damien says.
Their two teenage kids Darcy and Maya helped with the renovation, Maya had an eye for colour, and Darcy has a fascination with old houses. He loved working out the period of the home and what its original features were.
Damien's parents helped them through the process as well.
"It's been a huge family affair with his sister and her family all pitching is as well," Amanda says.
The house is now a bit of old and new. The Lavercombes matched as much as they could with the original. During the renovation the found old newspaper clippings to help with the dates. They could see where things had been. For example when they steamed off the wallpaper they found an illustration of what might be a princess in the forest. Their neighbour told them it was painted in the late 50's by a Mum for her daughter!
"Unfortunately this house lost a lot of its original features. We managed to find some including the picture rails, skirting boards, dato boards: some are original," Damien says.
He drew and worked out the plan without having to take any structural thing away, remodeling it within this roofline. They played around with internal spaces.
"Everything was where it is now except the backroom was a laundry, and it's now a master bedroom," Damien says.
They loved working in the neighborhood.
"It's a real community and Damo has been here most days. They all stop by and have a chat. They all come in and check in," Amanda says.
They're wrapping up some finishing touches before it goes, including the deck out the back. After several previous renovations they're confident and experienced in the process.
After a wild ride, Errol has been polished up and is almost ready to welcome new owners. After transforming the fixer upper, The Lavercombes will wish Errol and his new family the best of luck.