Transformation Home - Essex Street, Wembley

Back in 2013 Dale Alcock Home Improvements transformed this charming Essex Street character home into a stunning 4x2 family home.

Follow the Journey

Home Improvement Journey



Stage 1 - Introduction

The Brief

We bought an old home at 44 Essex Street in Wembley, so we could give it the Dale Alcock Home Improvement treatment, and give you a bird’s-eye view of the entire process.

The brief? To extend and modernise the home, while maintaining its original character and personality. Specifically, we’re converting it from a 2x1 into a 4x2 + study. Plus we’re giving it a new kitchen, a large open plan living area and a beautiful alfresco area.

Construction started in August, and the home was completely finished in February 2012. 

Family home

Essex Street Before

Any builder can renovate a home. But renovating one that’s been in the same family for 70 years, with a sentimental history and original heritage styling? That’s another matter entirely...

Graeme, now 70, smiles wistfully as he recalls the childhood he spent at 44 Essex Street, Wembley. Seven decades later, over a cup of tea in the living room of the self-same home, he tells us how he grew up there with his parents, how he moved out to start his own family, and how he eventually moved back to care for his ailing mum. 

Naturally, we wanted to retain a sense of that history in the home. To remain true to the original 1930s fixtures, fittings and floor coverings. Like the light fitting in the living room that was a wedding gift to Graeme’s parents. And the grandfather clock that Graeme’s grandfather actually made. (Yes, really!)

And you should have seen Graeme’s face light up when we told him. “It’s nice to know the family home will remain,” he said. “I’m sad enough to let the place go; I’d be devastated to see my whole family’s history demolished. Thank you for not doing that.”

Join us as we renovate and extend Graeme’s family home, and see how we retain its sense of history, its memories and its character, while still modernising and improving.


The Home and its location

Why did we choose 44 Essex Street, Wembley? Well, style was definitely a factor. A project home would have been easier to modernise, but only a historic residence would truly showcase our renovation capabilities.

Obviously we wanted something that had had little or no work done to it. Something rich with original character. Something with great ‘bone structure’, solid foundations and interesting features. Something with an obvious history.
In other words, we wanted a home with a story, so we could write a spectacular sequel.

Of course, the location was important too. 44 Essex Street is an old home with a variety of tasteful homes nearby. It sits on the high side of the street, on a flat block close to a busy thoroughfare, but not on one. It offers ample row access from a laneway at the rear of the property, and required very little in the way of large tree removal or demolition of out-buildings. And finally it was centrally located and close to our office.


Our Tips...

  • Know your maximum spend
  • Identify some local homes that are similar to what you have in mind
  • If they’ve been sold since renovation, research their sale prices
  • Estimate how much their renovation would have cost
  • The sale price minus your reno estimate tells you approximately how much you can justify on a purchase
  • Don’t forget to include sundry fees in your calculations (agent’s fees, stamp duty, etc)




Stage 2 - Design

For any renovation, design is important. For a home like 44 Essex Street, with such a distinctive character already, it’s doubly important. And doubly challenging. See how our design team modernised the home, transforming it from a 2x1 into a 4x2 + study, while still retaining its original style and charm.

We share it all, as well as some general tips to help you with your own renovation.


Our design rationaleLayout and design musts






Stage 3 - Pre-construction

At this point in the process, we’re really cooking with gas! The pre-construction stage starts when the design has been completed, and has been passed on to our drafting, estimating, prestart and scheduling departments.

Plans are drawn, variations are costed, contracts are prepared, finishes are selected, approvals, licences and permits are granted, and finally the job is scheduled. We’re ready for construction.


The prestart process is definitely fun, but it  can also be a little daunting. Picking the fixtures, fittings and colours for your entire home is a monumentally important task, so it’s not something to be taken lightly. But if you’re well prepared ahead of time, and you invest the time the process deserves, you’ll get the results you want. 

Obviously this means you need to know what style you’re aiming for, and you should also know what you want in terms of things like sinks, taps, doors, door handles, floor coverings, light fittings, shower screens, and so on. Plus you need to know what’s included in your contract.

TIP: Start a scrapbook as soon as possible, and fill it with photos, images and clippings of anything you like — both colours and styles as well as fixtures. Look at magazines, websites and even visit display homes or the DAC Showroom for inspiration.

But it’s not just the stereotypical ‘style’ items you need to think about. You also need to think about where you’ll need lights and power points. Figure out what furniture is going into each room and what devices. Try to imagine yourself going about your daily routine, and visualise when and where you’ll need good lighting and easy access to power (and for how many devices).

Also be prepared to answer questions like which way your doors will swing, and whether you’ll be getting your tiles through DAC or one of our recommended suppliers. 

Fridge, freezer, dishwasher and microwave recesses need to be thought through too. Once they’re built by the cabinet maker, it’s difficult to change their size. So if you’re supplying some things yourself, like appliances, you’ll need to let your builder know their specs, model numbers, measurements, etc.

And one final tip: Always try to return documentation to your builder ASAP, so you don’t hold up the process and delay construction.



Stage 4 - Construction



Stage 5 - Landscaping



Stage 6 - Finishing

Final touches


Stage 7 - Complete Home

Your dream home completed


Download your Character Home Renovation Guide

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