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Home Renovation Series: Planning

So you’ve finally had enough and decided its time to do something about those leaking taps once and for all. And maybe whilst you’re at it, you can update the kitchen and the laundry. Oh and those tiles will never work now you’ve changed out the cupboards…. sound familiar? Renovating a home can be a big job and often even with the best intentions, what begins as a seemingly small project can be akin to opening Pandora’s box with the list of jobs that follow appearing endless. This is why planning is perhaps the most important thing to consider with renovating. In fact, a great place to start in the planning phase is in the future. This forces you too look forward with consideration of long term use and will mean any decisions made work together to meet that long term goal. Welcome to part one of my Home Renovations Series: Planning.

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Nest or Invest?

Are you renovating as an investment or are you renovating for a long term home? This is a question you need to ask yourself before you get too far into a renovation. There are two main reasons to renovate a space; this includes necessary upkeep due to ageing and decaying:

  1. To reflect changes in technology, lifestyle and personality.
  2. To provide increased rental income or investment potential.

Your motivation behind your decision to renovate, be it as a means of investment or to improve your long term family home, will have a significant impact on what and where you choose to allocate your budget. Over spending, or rather, unnecessary spending for an investment property is going to seriously impact your profit margins so be aware.

Live first, then act!

In the case of home renovations, I always encourage my clients to spend at least 6 months living in the space before bringing out the sledgehammer. This allows you adequate time to get a feel for the current features of the home. What is working and what is definitely off. Do doors open and close the way you want them to? Are the electrical outlets and switches in the desired position or could they be moved? Does the current layout work? If no, why? What can be improved upon in the space.

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Fix your Floorplan

Typically, renovation work involves older style homes. As our way of living has evolved, so to has the way we use our homes to interact with loved ones, entertain, work and rest. Perhaps you can put that formal dining room to better use by closing it off and creating a home office. Or by shifting the main entrance to the home, you might be able to create a more open plan living area that welcomes large family gatherings that would better suit your lifestyle today. It’s so important to really consider how we use spaces – how you could use your spaces if given the opportunity to explore new possibilities.

Focus on Improved Lifestyle

I’m a firm believer that a renovation should add value. Whether that be in terms of financial gain or improved quality of life. If there is no added value in a renovation, I’m pretty open and honest in communicating this with my clients. Why are you spending all this money with little to no change in outcome at the end of the day? If the current layout is working for you, then I’ll advise you stick to it to save on construction costs, but if it’s not then you need to consider possible alternatives because, yes, you’ll end up with updated finishes, but if your pretty finished space is still not practical and functioning it is going to give you the same headaches the old outdated room was.

Scope of Works

Put simply, the scope of works is the amount of work to be undertaken in the renovation project. For example, for a bathroom renovation it might look something like this:

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This is very much an example and your scope of works will vary based on your specific requirements. When putting together your scope of works, it’s important to consider everything that needs to be done so you can get a very clear understanding of the work involved and therefore the associated costs with completing that work.

Know your Budget

Now that you’ve written a comprehensive list of the work involved you can do your research and get a minimum of 3 quotes. The better understanding you have regarding the type of work required the more accurate your quote will be. So rather than enquiring how much will it cost to renovate my bathroom, you can provide your list of work to the builder or trades completing the work and ask for a detailed quote. Yes, you can always save money in the immediate future by doing things yourself but take my advice, if you’re not qualified don’t do it as you might be setting yourself up higher costs in the long run. Once you have an idea of your budget, add 15 to 20% as a contingency. This isn’t to scare you, it’s to save future headaches. Budgets often blow out, particularly with renovation projects when houses are older and it’s harder to gage the true extent of the underlying problems until you get in there and begin. If the budget is tight, and that’s ok if it is, break your renovation project down into stages. Start with one section and then work through your list however long it takes you. Quality over quantity, always.

I hope this provides you with some insight into a home renovation and the importance of good planning in the process. Next week, in my Home Renovations Series, I’ll look more specifically at bathroom renovations and the things you might want to consider before starting your own project. I hope you’ll join me then.

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