Are You Renovating Your House...Or Avoiding Your Inner Demons?
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Are You Renovating Your House…Or Avoiding Your Inner Demons?

Some people believe that if they bury themselves in a big home renovation project, the Big Scary Stuff can’t get them.

By Kris Frieswick
Fri, Oct 22, 2021 1:45pmGrey Clock 4 min

One day, out of the blue, my dad decided to turn our back porch into a screened-in back porch with a big cathedral ceiling. We didn’t need a screened-in porch with a big cathedral ceiling. No one had asked for one. The existing porch worked just fine and wasn’t even that old. He’d never even mentioned the project until the day the work crews showed up.

The project dragged on forever, but my extremely impatient and cheap father never complained about the delays or the money once, which was beyond weird. Then it dawned on me and my siblings: Dad was convinced that as long as the porch was under construction, our mother, who had late stage cancer, wouldn’t die. We thought he was nuts. Maybe he was. But the fact is that Mom enjoyed many afternoons on that beautiful, completed screened-in porch before she left us.

There is something in our human nature that leads us to believe that as long as we are in the middle of a huge, complicated project that takes all our time and focus, nothing big and scary can happen: We are just too darned BUSY.

This belief is demonstrably, laughably wrong, yet we cling to it.

The ultimate example of this is the strange case of Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who manufactured the Winchester rifle. She believed that as long as her home was under construction, the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles could not haunt her. Her home was under construction for about 40 years, right up until the day she died.

Be it cancer, ghosts, guilt or a relationship gone bad, you or someone you know has probably tried to keep it at bay with a massive home renovation project. Here are some of the most commonly seen forms of what I refer to as the Winchester Effect:

The Unemployment Delusion

Your company is on its last legs. There have already been three rounds of layoffs. You, a highly-placed employee, has survived them all, but who knows when the blood-letting will stop. Does this prevent you from hiring contractors to put in a massive 40-by-80 foot swimming pool with a gazebo, outdoor kitchen and wide-screen TV pavilion? It does not. You think that as long as you are spending and planning and living like a highly-placed executive with a stable, well-paying job, you will remain one. Who would possibly fire a person in the middle of such a project?

Pro tip: Your company would, that’s who. Unless you are expecting the mother of all severance packages, this is just a bad idea that will result in a giant muddy hole in your backyard that you can’t afford to fill in. Make living as frugally as possible your new big project.

Renovation Redirect

You are constantly involved in one home renovation project after another. You’re not methodically tackling one room at a time. You are maniacally reconstructing the whole shebang, from roof to cellar, as soon as the last project is done. Just like Mrs. Winchester.

What you’re really doing is creating enough mental static so that you can’t think about all the shady deals, the crappy relationships, the abandoned goals and dreams. You have the financial wherewithal to clutter up your brain with the sound of Sawzalls and nail guns. Who can think honestly and openly about committing massive securities fraud when you’re sleeping in a bedroom that’s been hermetically sealed to keep out construction debris? No one.

Pro tip: To paraphrase Buckaroo Banzai: no matter where you put the new kitchen, there you are. Instead of another gut reno, donate your construction budget to a relevant charity and stop being a horrible person. In the dark, when the bandsaws stop and the nail guns are silent, it’s just you and your guilty conscience and MAN is that thing noisy.

Historic Home Distraction

You are half of a disaffected couple that has decided that, in an effort to come together on a project—since the “marriage” project just isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be—you will buy and renovate a historic home. Well, my friend, you will be praying for just a simple, garden-variety crappy marriage the first time you tear down a horse-hair plaster wall and see the knob-and-tube electrical system that dates to the 1940s.

Pro Tip: Your marriage will not survive this house project so just sell the house now as is and pay for daily couple’s counselling. Compared to the house restoration, the marriage restoration will be about one-trillionth cheaper and it might actually work.

The Envy Endeavor

Your neighbors are attractive, wealthy and intelligent, their children are polite and their pets do not shed. You hate them all. Your life is a shambles baked into a hot mess. It is nothing like theirs, but your house can be! So you’re building a huge three-car garage with an in-law apartment above it, just like your neighbour’s.

Pro tip: Copy cat construction won’t make you feel like any less of a failure. Worse, you’ll attract the neighbours’ pity—they know you own only one car and don’t have in-laws. Stop construction and remember this: no family is as perfect as they appear through their picture window.

The Illness Illusion

You embark on a massive home renovation project when someone you love falls ill, convinced they cannot die until you’re done.

Pro tip: Sounds crazy, but what do I know?


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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Hotel experience at home in Castle Hill

A new development in the Hills District sets a new standard in buyer expectations

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Castle Hill is set to be home to a new hotel-like development, with the announcement that the 94-apartment Astrid site is just weeks away from completion.

While the penthouse apartments across the two buildings have already been snapped up, there are still one, two and three-bedroom residences on offer. The development comes with a gold star iCIRT rating, guaranteeing it has met quality construction standards. The iCIRT rating system has been developed by Equifax in partnership with government, industry and market and rates projects from one to five stars following a rigorous and independent review process.

Steve Harb from developer CBD Core, said it’s the best indicator would-be buyers could have that their investment is safe.

“The iCIRT rating gives people the assurance that we’re trustworthy and have integrity as a developer,” he says. “Our service is complete from start to finish, from developer to builder. 

“As a buyer, you have one point of contact, there’s no shifting responsibility or passing the buck so if anyone has an issue, it can be sorted out as soon as possible.”

He said Astrid has proved popular with locals interested in upgrading without leaving the convenience and amenity of the Hills District. Surrounded by some of the best restaurants, clubs and recreational facilities in the area, it is also just six minutes’ walk to the new Metro station and a seven-minute drive to Castle Towers Shopping Centre. Schools and tertiary education options are also within an easy drive. In addition to some of the best parks and reserves in Sydney, it’s an attractive option for families on the move.

Mr Harb said the concept for the development, as with all his projects, was to create a hotel-like environment.

“I only do boutique projects and when I say ‘boutique’, I mean hotels without the concierge,” he says. “The quality and integrity is built into it.”

The infinity edge pool is surrounded by leafy gardens in a resort-style environment.

Leisure facilities include rooftop gardens and entertaining spaces as well as a fully equipped gym on the ground floor overlooking an infinity edge pool surrounded by lush landscaped gardens. Mr Harb says beautiful landscaping is a signature of all his developments.

“I have lived in the Hills District for more than 15 years and the reason I live here is because I love the leafy environment, the greenery,” he says. “I always like to emphasise that in my developments with strong landscaping.”


Recognising the ongoing desire to adopt a hybrid working model, Astrid provides a dedicated on-site working environment suitable for exclusive use by residents needing focused work time, as well as those seeking professional meeting rooms to receive clients, with wifi enabled work desks, as well as more casual seating. 

Mr Harb said the pandemic taught him that, while working from home was convenient, having breakout spaces within a wider residential development was highly attractive.

“You’re not stuck looking at the same four walls,” he says. “The shared work space at Astrid has comfortable lounges, chairs, coffee tables and more than a dozen cubicles,” he says. “It’s more like going into a meeting room in a hotel.”

The apartments are characterised by light-filled interiors.


The apartments are light-filled living spaces with seamless access to balconies, through to integrated joinery secreting storage. Finishes have been chosen to last, from the Michael Angelo Quartz benchtop and Char Oak Polytec Ravine joinery in the kitchen to the stone splashback and custom-made joinery in the bathroom.

Access throughout the buildings is via a swipe card, providing a secure environment. 

For more information, see Astrid Castle Hill.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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