Q: For years, my partner and I planned our dream house. We saved the money, found an architect, endured a long renovation. Now our neighbours are planning their own reno. They’ve asked to see our architectural plans and want to take photos of our interiors. How do we politely tell them to get their own ideas? P.N., Preston, VIC

Illustration by Simon Letch.

Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:

A: I suppose you could take it as a compliment, like a neighbour asking for the recipe of a dish you cooked them: a dish that took years to create, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, involved dozens of specialised chefs, and required local council approval to ensure the recipe complied with the guidelines of the Cooking Code of Australia. But I think these neighbours are just hoping for an easy reno ride.

They’ll be avoiding architectural fees, expensive mistakes and a stressful six-week paint trial of 18 different shades of interior white, before finally settling on a Feather Soft/Hog Bristle combo, quarter-strength, low-sheen.

Be honest: tell them how much the house means to you, how much the reno cost, how much the strain affected your relationship because you wanted a cocoa-gloss, subway tile kitchen splashback and your partner wanted a hand-chiselled, Moroccan tile kitchen splashback – and for two months you couldn’t stand the sight of each other’s splashback-stubborn faces.

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