Everything you need to consider before you start your renovation project

Whether you are planning on renovating your first home, or redoing your kitchen or bathroom; there are a few things you should consider before you take the next step.

Like any project, having a clear plan helps you understand what your expectations are and how you are going to achieve them. No matter how big or small your project is, here are 11 essential things to consider before you start your renovation.

1. Set realistic goals

Your goals should be set from your motivations. If your goal is to increase the value of your property, your goals should reflect an increase in percentage against other desirable properties in your area. You may like to get your property valued before you start your project to see how much you are likely to increase in value and what is desired by potential buyers.

It could be that you need more space for your family, more room to cook, no more fights over the bathroom or simply having friends over for a BBQ. Is your goal just to simply feel better in the space that you have?

Whatever your motivators are – you need to understand them so that you can benchmark your goals. Understanding why you are renovating will help you achieve your vision and be satisfied when the projects finished.

2. Set a budget that doesn’t break the bank

Has anyone ever told you that renovating is cheap? If they have, they are lying.

Similar to goal setting – setting a budget for your project is completely up to you. If you are renovating for profit, you want to keep your budget low to increase your profit margins. Utilising sales, renovators’ outlets, looking for discounts or if you are using a builder, use their trade discounts and contacts. However, if you are renovating to create your dream home, you may want to consider higher end materials that are more fashionable. However, this does not always mean the most expensive.

Other essential considerations for your budget are hidden costs, materials and products that can save you money in the future such as solar or passive designs, sustainability, planning and government costs.

Whatever you choose – by setting a budget you will ensure you only spend what you can afford and that you won’t be stuck with a half-finished project, or a big bill at the end.

3. Set yourself a realistic timeline

First things first with your timeline – are you doing the project yourself or are you hiring someone to help you?

If you plan to do the project yourself, you should consider how much time you have realistically and what role you will play. Are you going to project manage the whole process, do you have children, are you working full time, does the project need to be finished in a certain timeframe, have you done this before? All these factors come into play when tackling a project on your own.

If you enlist the help of a builder or a project manager, ensure you sit down with them and talk through your expectations and when you would like the project to be finished.

It is always helpful to write this timeline down in an excel document or a gantt chart, so you can see how long each stage is projected to take.

4. Organise your plans and DA or CDC

Most projects such as an extension, second story addition or major renovation requires a Development Application or a Compliance Development Certificate.

You can apply for a Development Application through your local council. Each council is different, so you will need to look on their website for their requirements. The council will require you to submit various forms of documentation to show them the work you are proposing to do.

Some councils may allow you to get a Compliance Development Certificate through a private certifier, depending on the work. This is most likely for smaller projects such as bathrooms, kitchens and other internal projects.

Both require detailed plans and information about what you are planning on doing.

Most builders are happy to do this for you and can incorporate it into the quote and scope of work.

5. Do you know what you are doing or do you need to enlist the experts?

What makes a good tradesperson? You’ll need to know this if you are going to enlist the help of others to complete your project.

There are many people who can help you complete your project.

To begin with planning, you may like to enlist an architect, a draftsperson, or a building designer to help your initial visions come to life.

If you are tackling the job yourself then you may like to engage a project manager to help you prioritise the work and develop a schedule.

Getting a builder is also a common route that people take, builders also project manage and have all their own sub-contractors. The benefit of going with a builder is that you are only dealing with one person instead of many.

A simple way you can find the right people is:

  • Word of mouth or referral

  • Google reviews or testimonials

  • Stopping by local work sites and asking for business cards

Whatever way you find the people you want to work with, always ask for a few quotes so you can compare, check their credentials and ask for a referral or examples of their previous work.

6. Are you adding value or over capitalising?

Overcapitalising can be a daunting thing to think about. Going back to your original motivation is a good place to start when trying to understand if you are or aren’t.

If you are planning on making some money in the future, some experts say you shouldn’t spend more than 10% of the overall property value on renovations. But if you are planning on staying in the home for a long time, you might just want to add space for your own comfort.

7. How much DIY can you do?

Saving money by doing it yourself is such an appealing thought. Picking up a brush and having a go at painting, restoring old furniture or even doing some gardening are all great things to bring appeal to your space.

But when it comes to building – leave it to the experts. They are after all the experts.

8. Invest in quality materials and designs

Investing in good quality materials may seem daunting at first. But trust me, it’s worth it. Good quality materials will extend the life span of your home and most likely will save you money in the future.

Some products you can consider when renovating:

  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly products such as thermal performing products, structural ability or energy saving products will end up saving you lots of power and heating in the future.

  • Recycling old products such as bricks and timber can help bring character and history to your house while reducing waste costs.

  • Innovative design and new technologies such as passive housing or fire-resistant products will save you money and protect your house from potential fires.

9. Decide on a design style

Everyone has their own unique style and vision for their home. Deciding on adding to your existing style with your project or taking a whole new one is something that you need to consider when you are thinking about renovating.

If you’re renovating a kitchen or bathroom to your house, it needs to fit in with what is already there. If you are adding a second story addition or extension, it will also have to match.

Consider your wall, floors, windows and doors, the tapware, tiles and cabinets.

If you don’t feel confident, your builder should be able to help you out or you can always enlist the help of an interior designer.

10. Envision what you have and where it will go in your new space

Like the previous point. Thinking about what you already have is really important. There is nothing worse than building this great new space to then realise nothing you own goes with it.

Always envision what you already have and how it will work with your new space. This will save you a lot of money in the future.

Another consideration would be to allow for room in your budget for new furniture. But remember to always plan for this so you are not surprised at the end.

11. Stay on track with your paperwork

Even if you enlist the experts for your project, there will still be a lot of paperwork. There will always be invoices, contracts, insurances, plans and certificates. It can be pretty overwhelming if it is your first time renovating.

The best way to keep on top of it is to keep a folder and diary to stay on top of everything as it comes your way.

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