Pierre & Jennekin du Plessis

Name: Pierre & Jennekin
Surname: du Plessis
Location: Pretoria, Gauteng
Entry Date: Jun 29, 2023
Category: DIY
Project: Entire House

About the Project:

We’ve always dreamt of buying an old house and renovating it as part of a DIY project. Returning to South Africa after living abroad for almost a decade, we finally had the opportunity to invest in an old property; however, the renovation dreams had to wait since our family had grown just as we moved…

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We’ve always dreamt of buying an old house and renovating it as part of a DIY project. Returning to South Africa after living abroad for almost a decade, we finally had the opportunity to invest in an old property; however, the renovation dreams had to wait since our family had grown just as we moved in.

The dream to renovate our home never dissipated and after four years of living in the house, we were able to start with our vision for a rustic-industrial home by renovating and modernising the en-suite and family bathrooms. With this specific look and feel in mind, we soon realised from the quotations we received that it would exceed our budget. So, we went back to the drawing board and, not willing to back down on our design, we reviewed the quotations and realised that a large part of the cost was being consumed by the labour to do the demolition and plumbing, hence we decided to do it ourselves. This allowed us to use a contractor only for the brick-and-mortar work and to do the plastering of the walls and floors using Cemcrete’s Satin-Crete, which was the product we wanted to use.

It took another six years before we could take on the rest of the renovations. The delay allowed us to refine our design, and to do more research on materials, suppliers and green technologies since the focus was not only on the look and feel of the house but also trying to make it more energy efficient. For example, we used UV reflective roof paint and IsoBoard ceilings for passive cooling, and added a small electrical geyser in the scullery, which was the furthest room from the main geyser, resulting in us saving almost 18L of ‘cold’ water every time hot water was needed. We also replaced all light bulbs with LED bulbs.

Finally, in 2021, we took the plunge to start with the rest of the renovations, which included the following:
• Ripping out old carpets and breaking up tiled floors in the house as well as on the two
‘stoeps’ and replacing them with a seamless cement screed floor.
• Replacing all windows with aluminium windows and installing two aluminium stacking
• Breaking open interior and exterior walls to create open living spaces that flow into
one another.
• Joining the exterior laundry to the kitchen and extending the room by about 80cm to
convert it into what is now the scullery.
• Paint the whole house, inside and outside.
• Redo the plumbing and rewire and install new electrical plugs, gas stove and
electrical oven in the kitchen.
• Installed new light fittings and replaced all light switches in the house.
• Create concrete countertops in the kitchen.
• Drop the double-volume ceilings in all living areas, kitchen and study and install IsoBoard ceilings (± 110m²).

Like before, we used contractors for the demolition and brick-and-mortar work, although we did some of the demolition ourselves when we saw the project started to fall behind schedule. The kitchen drawers and shelves were done by a kitchen installer. As avid DIYers and in order to save costs, we did the following ourselves (mostly after hours and during weekends):
• Taking apart and removing old kitchen cupboards, oven, stove and dishwashing
• Demolished the rear stoep’s floor to ground level.
• Installed all the IsoBoard ceilings (with the help of some friends whom we bribed
with filter coffee and boerewors rolls).
• Rewiring of the scullery, kitchen and all living areas as well as installing new
electrical plugs with the help of a friend who is a qualified electrician.
• Painted the whole interior of the house (the exterior painting of the house was done
by a contractor, whom we used before).
• Did all the plumbing for the kitchen and scullery.
• Built a new dishwashing cabinet and installed the washbasins.
• Built and installed cupboards in the study and one bedroom from reclaimed
melamine panels.

Part of our plan was to salvage and sell the old kitchen cupboards, oven and stove, dishwashing basin with the taps and all the old steel window frames and sliding door. The R17 000 we made from the sales was used to help fund the project. Since we did a lot of demolition by breaking out walls, we were able to salvage all the bricks needed for the extension of the scullery and the legs for the countertops in the kitchen, which also helped us save money.

We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how well you plan, there will always be something unforeseen. You just have to accept it, since it is what it is, and come up with a new plan to work around it.

Budget Breakdown:

13m I-beam (cutting and delivery included)
Building materials (not quoted seperately by contractor)
Self-leveling screed
Aluminium windows and doors
Frameless shower panels
Duram Cooltech roof paint
Wall paint (interior & exterior)
Electrical supplies
Gas stove
15L under-counter electrical geyser
Jackhammer rental (for a weekend)
IsoBoard & polystyrene cornices
Floor sealer
Cemcrete (Satin-Crete, bonding liquid and sealent)
Coprox (Dual cote, Cobond and sealer)
Mixers (in kitchen and scullery)
Washbasins (in kitchen and scullery)
Plumbing (copper pipes, gas, brass taps, etc.)


Warren Group
LDP Construction
Independent contractors (bathrooms, exterior painting, countertop skimming & paving)
Anderson Concepts (roof waterproofing & painting)
Alumex (shower glass panels)
Grand Total