is essential in the building industry and Peter Wolfkamp has plenty. His
portfolio of work includes historic Devonport villas; ultra modern townhouses;
rustic country estates; restoration of a 1890’s church; and even a few months
sabbatical in the south of France
working on a 16th Century farmhouse.
also has a wealth of experience on talkback radio and is the Newstalk ZB
regular ‘resident builder’, taking questions from callers and offering advice
on DIY projects since 2002.
Peter has completed the NZGBC Homestar Home Coach and Practitioner training, and
the new Licensed Building Practitioner scheme established by DBH.
We're very grateful to have him as our onsite Foreman for the Block NZ, and we were lucky enough to get the chance to sit down with him to talk about home DIY and renovations.
What’s some must have
items when doing Home DIY?
Earmuffs, glasses, gloves, good work shoes. Most builders also carry an apron
with them, and in the apron, you will have a hammer, a ruler, a tape measure, a
nail punch, sharp knife, chisel and maybe a nail bar. And that’s the kind of
standard stuff you need, and the reason they carry it on them all day, is they
use that all day.
Outside of that, you need to have cutting tools, that’s a handsaw or a
powersaw, as well as power tools, which can go on forever, depending on what
you’re doing. Also pays to have a level, string wire. The basic is what you’d
see a carpenter carrying in their apron.
What are the most common DIY mishaps you
Not having a plan, not using the right product or the right application, not
knowing what their limitations are, in terms of, how much they can achieve in a
day and how safe certain activities are.
And unfortunately, DIY has changed a lot because of the licensed builder
practitioner scheme, and people need to be very aware of what they can and
cannot do. It’s handy to go to the building and housing website to find out
what activities are considered restricted building work.
Are there any DIY projects that you
think should only be done by experts?
Any work requiring a building consent now must be done by a licensed building
practitioner. That’s the simplest answer.
What’s the most common DIY projects
people take on?
Most people, if doing DIY, will have a go at building a deck. Typically, if the
deck is less than 1m high, they can build it without a building consent, but it
still needs to be built to the building code.
A lot of people also have a go at bathrooms, but increasingly, alterations to
plumbing must be done as part of building consent.
DIY nowadays is more likely to be painting and decorating, and providing sweat
equity for your trades people.
What do you think audience members can
take away from watching the Block NZ?
Inspiration and admiration, as well as the stick-ability of all the teams…
Anyone who has done DIY or renovations at home, thinks it’s easy, and then by
the end realizes “jeepers, that was really really difficult”. Planning plays a
huge role in that.
The teams that do well here are the teams that plan, if they put in the effort
early, it pays off in the long run, as they’re not rushing to catch up. So
while it might look like you’ve got heaps of time, do plenty of planning at the
What will the judges be looking at when judging the Block houses?
There’s the obvious build quality they’ll be look at, how well are the houses are
put together. So regardless if you like the paint work or the finishes, are
they done professional and properly?
But the judges and the public will also be looking at flare and design and the
Starting the renovation of a home can seem daunting, where do you
recommend planning should start?
As early as possible. There’s also heaps of great online tools available now
too, like Kiwibank have their renomate program that allows you to track it,
there’s also various apps you can download for project management. But really,
the main focus is to plan everything out, and keep records of it.
What are some of the advantages of renovating an old home versus buying
a brand new one?
You can live in it while renovating, so you’re not paying rent. You can do
it as time and money permits. So while it might take 10 years for you to
completely renovate your house, you’ve had somewhere to live, you’ve been able
to save while doing it, as you’re not paying interest on your borrowings and
you can take advantage of capital gain over time. You also get to know the
house really well, and get to have it exactly how you want.
There are some disadvantages too, and most people realize that after
they’ve done it,. You have to live with constant dust, as well as constant disruptions
of not having places finished, and there’s a lot of moving things around.
Unfortunately in some cases you may have hidden expenses.
What are your favourite features of older homes that you no longer see
in new homes?
It’s a combination of the original craftsmanship and workmanship you see
in an old house which you don’t see nowadays. Also the beautiful materials,
things like Kauri, Rimu and Matai, and those sort of timbers, which are hard to
come by now. And the detailing, which I really like.
Also, with age comes character. I find it hard to build in character into a new
home, where as you’re able to draw it out of an old home.
If you had one piece of advice for a homeowner starting their own renovation
what would it be?
Planning, planning, planning. The more you know and the more
questions you’ve asked, the better able you are to make decisions, and to make
the right decisions, on time, and potentially getting better product at a