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Renovating? Look at how this builder finds the sweet spot between clients' wants, needs and budget

One of the renovations Pieter Venter from Space Man, a Cape Town company specialising in refurbishment, waterproofing painting, and general renovations, has worked on. Picture: Supplied

One of the renovations Pieter Venter from Space Man, a Cape Town company specialising in refurbishment, waterproofing painting, and general renovations, has worked on. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 5, 2022

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1. The same - but different

The lifting of the lockdown last year that enabled builders to go back to work was an opportunity for Camps Bay restaurant Café Caprice.

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The owner called on the services of Pieter Venter of Space Man, a Cape Town company specialising in refurbishment, waterproofing painting, and general renovations.

Venter’s background is architectural design but he has worked as a builder and project manager for the past 20 years or so, and says he brings his experience to finding the sweet spot between what the client wants, what is doable and the budget.

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Here he takes us through three renovations.

“I’m a builder but I work in people’s spaces – hence the name of the company – to make them better and make them work for the client.” Café Caprice had an overhaul.

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Before the team got to work on the popular beach-front Camps Bay restaurant. Picture: Supplied

“We built a new bar, re-floored whole place, sorted out the damp, installed new lights, re-sanded and refurbished the wall cladding, put down real marble tiles on the stoep, and painted the whole place.

“It took three to four weeks, and as we finished restaurants were allowed to open again. We changed it completely but it looks the same – we retained the authenticity of Café Caprice, and the vibe is the same, but it is essentially a brand-new restaurant. We’re proud of that. And the client was happy.”

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After: The classy marble-tiled stoep of the totally refurbished Café Caprice. Picture: Supplied

2. On-trend bathroom

Out with the old and in with the modern and practical for a Hout Bay home

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Older houses have an advantage when it comes to renovating bathrooms – they’re usually a good size so you can do more with them, according to Venter.

“Houses in modern developments tend to be very small, but the existing bathroom in House Rodrigues in Hout Bay was big. “This enabled us to remove the old built-in bath and replace it with a deep, round free-standing bath. These are very popular today.”

The bathroom, with its modern free-standing bath, loo and frameless shower. By keeping the old layout, builder Pieter Venter was able to save money. Picture: Supplied

By putting the bath across the corner, Venter was able to install floor-mounted mixer taps where the previous taps had been, saving money. The loo was replaced, but also kept in the same place.

“By keeping the layout of the room the same, we were able to modernise the bathroom without wasting money on new plumbing and drainage.

“And we put in a frameless, walk-in shower, which is the trend today. You don’t have to step in.

“You don’t have the problem of water all over the floor because you go into the slab and tilt the shower floor just slightly, so the water runs into the drain.

“We could have had a wet room, which is a novel idea, but not very practical as you tend to get water everywhere.

“Sometimes – though not in this case – the client fancies a wet room and this is where I step in and explain the pros and cons,” Venter says.

3. Sleek, modern kitchen

Clever use of space and elements produced a redone room on budget

Before: The breakfast bar was dated and the cupboards were bulky, taking up unnecessary space. Picture: Supplied

A few years ago, House Rodrigues was a classic 1980s/1990s home, says Venter. At one point it was run as a B&B and, about two years back, it was bought by a Joburg family who used to stay there in their holidays.

“The client called us to fix a collapsing boundary wall, leading to us getting an R2.5 million project to refurbish the entire property, turning it from three-star to five-star boutique hotel quality,” says Venter.

“But the house is no longer let – the family keep it as their exclusive holiday home.”

After: The white breakfast bar is a lot smarter than the old curved one but is in the same place. A wall-mounted TV means the cook can keep up with the news. Picture: Supplied

The kitchen was modernised, and new appliances were purchased, but all the elements essentially remained where they were.

“I didn’t enlarge the space at all, but the room looks bigger by making better use of the cupboards – the old ones were bulky and brightly coloured.

“We installed pale cupboards and a white breakfast bar where the previous one had been. We replaced the lights hanging from the top with LED lights and put in a white glass splashback.

Note the slimmer cupboards and the white glass splashback. Picture: Supplied

“That is one way to make a space look bigger – another is to use mirrors.

“As a result, of not moving the kitchen around, we could use existing electricity and plumbing points, which is one way to respect the budget and still have a supermodern kitchen.”

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