Renovating 101: Overcoming The Challenges

Bringing home a renovation within budget and on time is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges for any novice renovator. It requires skill, knowledge and careful planning.

The same principles apply to any renovation, big or small, and it starts with research and planning, especially if you are managing the renovation and tradies yourself. Here are some essentials to guide you through that minefield.

1. Draw up a project plan
A project plan is an absolute must for any renovation, but especially projects that are trade-intensive and need to follow a carefully defined sequence of works. Kitchen and bathroom renovations definitely fall into that category. There are software programs you can use to put together your project plan, such as Microsoft Project, or even just an Excel spreadsheet. It must include every task to be completed (the scope of works) and in what order they need to happen (order of works). Why? Because you can literally lose weeks in downtime if you haven’t worked out in advance the correct sequence of tasks (plumbing, electricals, cabinetry, tiling, etc). When you’ve finally worked out you’re ready for the tiler to start work, chances are he’ll be tied up on another job for the next fortnight.

2. Build in a contingency
Things never go exactly according to plan on a renovation, so always build a 10% contingency into your budget to cover unexpected costs, especially if you’re dealing with older properties that might require unforeseen remedial work. It’s also a good idea to factor one day per week or fortnight into your project plan to cover unexpected delays: things like tradies falling sick, delays in material supplies or days lost through bad weather.

3. Get a handle on lead times
Know in advance roughly how long things take. You’ll need to wait for the bathroom waterproofing to be done and have time to cure before any tiling can happen. There’s a few days right there. Kitchen cabinets can take weeks to be made up in busy periods, as can windows and doors. This is the kind of information you need to ascertain in order to draw up an accurate project plan.

4. Work out your budget
A renovation budget needs to be proportionate to the overall value of the property. There are different formulas people operate to. For a cosmetic renovation, I recommend capping the budget at 10% of the total value of the property. So for a $500,000 property, that would be $50,000 tops.

5. Choose your tradies well
Getting together a trusted, reliable team of tradies is absolutely crucial. When pulling together your team of tradies, draw on word of mouth recommendations where possible, always personally check their licences and insurances, and ask to speak to their last client. And absolutely always get minimum 3 quotes for any job, so you get an accurate estimation of costs. For more advice on tradies, check out our piece on how to find good tradies.

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All great advice. Its all in the preparation.