One upside of being forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic? Having more time to tackle a home renovation project or two.
Among those in the Illawarra keeping busy with renovation efforts during lockdown is former rugby league star Michael Bolt.
The former Illawarra Steelers player turned Wollongong bar owner has extensive experience undertaking home renovations and other projects.
"It's all those little things you want to do, that you didn't ever think you'd get a chance to do," he said of pandemic projects.
"Sometimes with renos, you just go for it and do things... Sometimes, the longer you look at them, better options come into play. That's what I've found.
"That's the good thing about having that time; you don't just do the first idea that comes into your brain. COVID gives you the time to think it through."
A new report from property valuation and advisory company Herron Todd White has revealed that other than a brief pause during July due to COVID restrictions, home renovation projects in the Illawarra had been plentiful during the pandemic.
HTW's region director Chris McKenna said that travel restrictions, combined with HomeBuilder grants and other cash injections, had likely convinced many Illawarra homeowners that it was the right time to get on the tools.
"Some have been small reconfigurations or updates, others have been large whole-of-home rebuilds," Mr McKenna said.
"Builders and tradies have been very busy in the past year trying to keep up with the extra demand.
"One home owner I met recently advised that they have taken to YouTube to learn how to lay pavers as they weren't getting return calls from tradespeople."
Mr McKenna said the majority of projects were completed by owner-occupiers for their own benefit.
"Either they need more room for their growing family or they're a bit older and finally have the savings to afford their dream house," he said.
"They've either recently bought an older house and immediately renovate, or they've lived in the same property for a number of years and it's now time to complete their upgrade."
As documented in the Mercury last year, more than two years ago, Mr Bolt began his latest project when he bought an original 1950s home at Mount Ousley and sought to undertake a loving, sympathetic renovation.
Mr Bolt resides in the house, and said much of the work was completed prior to last year's lockdown.
However, the lockdowns have led to extended periods of temporary closure for his business ventures, providing him with more time at home to tackle the finishing touches.
This has included landscaping works, internal touches and the 'man cave', which is nearing completion.
The two-room man cave is located in the lower level of the home, and features a pool table, bar, televisions, family photos, rugby league memorabilia and more.
"When you've got a lot of stuff, the walls fill up pretty quickly," Mr Bolt said.
"I've gone through a lot of boxes, found some old photos and other things, that I've picked up frames for and made frames for. That's a little time consuming, but they're the perfect jobs to do when you've got time on your hands.
"It's a nice little retreat, and there's also a fire pit outside. So we've got summer entertaining on the back deck, and this is more the winter entertaining and late night stuff inside."
There's also an old pew he picked up from a church in Woonona, which he's incorporated as seating in the pool room.
As much of the major work was completed before the onset of the pandemic, Mr Bolt said he hadn't experienced issues with materials becoming increasingly expensive as a result of pandemic-related shortages.
"I haven't been after the larger quantities of anything, so a price rise here and there hasn't really had an effect on me," he said.
"But I have heard that timber has become more expensive."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.