Renovation 101: 6 Things You Need to Know Before You Begin

Like anything that involves lots of time, money and resources, home renovations require serious planning. There are so many things to consider before you let a hammer or saw anywhere near your property, so here are the six most important.

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Know what you really want done

Before you do anything else, you need to figure out exactly what your renovation is aiming to achieve. That means you need more than just a vague idea. It’s all well and good saying “I want a new bathroom,” but you can’t do anything until you figure out the specifics. What kind of décor do you really want? What colours are you going to choose for the walls and the tiles? Are you just going to replace the fixtures, or do you intend to move things around and rework the plumbing? Do you want new light fittings as well? Every single question must be answered before you get started, or your renovation could become a disaster.

A solid plan will let you budget much more effectively, as it’ll tell you precisely what you’re going to be spending money on. It’ll also help you find the right tradies, because you’ll know what services you’ll be requiring and can search accordingly. Finally, your plan will prevent you from changing your mind halfway through the project, which will save you a whole lot of unnecessary hassle and expenditure. After all, if you have to throw out the first renovation and start again from scratch, it’s going to cost a lot more money.

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Know what your budget is

We’ll keep this one short and sweet: your budget is the single most important aspect of your renovation. You have to know exactly how much money you’ve got to work with before you get started, including extra funds to cover any unexpected developments. We’re talking dollars and cents, the maximum amount you’ll be able to spend. If you just have an approximate figure in mind you could have a very nasty surprise at the end of the project, where you’re scrambling around trying to scrounge up an extra $500 you thought you had but didn’t. Look at your finances, decide what you can realistically afford to outlay, and stick to this figure religiously.

Find the right tradie

These days, it’s easier than ever to track down the perfect tradies to handle your project. The internet is a powerful tool, and lets you thoroughly research anyone you’re thinking of hiring. You can check their services, the suburbs they work in and their licences and qualifications, all of which are vital in deciding whether they’re right for you.

Better yet, reviews on websites like Facebook and (of course) True Local can give you instant access to previous customers’ experiences with any company. This provides a clear picture of the level of workmanship and customer service you can expect before you even get in touch. Reviews often cover things like how friendly they were, if they showed up on time, if the end result looked good and if the experience was hassle-free. And with so many tradespeople out there, this is the perfect way to filter out the dodgy and dishonest so you end up with the best of the best.

FIND A TRADIE NEAR YOU

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Find out exactly what the tradie’s processes are

Unless you get personal endorsement from someone you trust implicitly, you shouldn’t hire tradespeople with a shabby/non-existent online presence. Check the company’s website and social media pages to learn how they work and the processes they use. For instance, if you need the work done in six weeks, you don’t want to end up with a company that can only complete it in eight. If you still want to live in your house while the project is ongoing, you’ll be in a bit of a pickle if the workers suddenly tell you they need the whole place free. Make sure they are able to work with your expectations, or you’re going to make things a lot more complicated for yourself.

You should also look into exactly what they’ll be doing. If you’re remodelling your kitchen, will the tradies be removing the old cabinetry? Will they be knocking down any walls? Are they rewiring any electricity, or moving the pipes? Finding out all of this information before you begin means you know exactly what you’re paying for, and can pick up if there’s anything missing that you want done. Perhaps you intended to get new granite benchtops, but they had not factored that into their plan. If you realise this before starting, it’s much easier to fix than if you find it out once the reno is almost complete.

Looking into the processes involved in your renovation also means you can plan so that different trades are working in a logical sequence. After all, there’s no point laying down your new floor first if tradies are going to be stomping all over it, dragging appliances around and scratching up the brand-new boards.

Look into whether you need any council permits

While most minor renovations don’t require any special permits, it’s always worth contacting the council well in advance to make sure. After all, nobody likes getting fined – or worse, having to completely re-plan and re-cost your reno because it doesn’t meet council restrictions. Be aware of all council regulations regarding the hiring of tradespeople, especially if you’re planning something major like a house extension. You’ve got enough to worry about without getting on the wrong side of the law.

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Research the target market

This one mostly applies to people who are doing up their properties with the aim of selling them on. If you’re renovating for yourself, you can do whatever you like. If you want to sell, however, you’ve got to keep your target buyer in mind. If it’s a one-bedroom flat, you’ll probably end up selling to a young professional or couple. A three-bedroom house, on the other hand, will be much more appealing to a family. You want to design your renovation around what they will want out of a home. For example, a family might want an extra bathroom – or at least more space in the current one. A couple with one bedroom will probably want plenty of storage and wardrobe space. Thinking about these things will make your home more appealing when it goes on the market.

As a general rule, stick to simple, classic aesthetics that won’t go out of style any time soon. Don’t concern yourself with short-lived, flavour-of-the-month trends, despite what the magazines might tell you. They’ll date quickly, and any savvy buyer will be turned off, knowing they’ll be pumping more money into their own renovations in another five years.

Best of luck with the reno, and swing by our renovation blog sometime for more home improvement tips!

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