ask yourself these questions before you renovate
Renovation shows are fun to watch and they make it look all so easy. In reality, they rarely show the meticulous months of planning that goes into a renovation before the first hit of the hammer to start the demolition. Planning is the key to any renovation and whilst it’ll feel like you’re planning for months and months before you even begin the renovation, once you’re in the thick of it, you’ll thank yourself you took the time. Along with planning, costing everything out before you begin will help with a smoother renovation process. Here’s a great list of questions to ask yourself before you renovate.
Without understanding how much your design is going to cost you, setting a budget alone is not enough. If you really want to know whether or not your budget is going to work for your design you need to have it costed. Understanding the costs associated with what you want to achieve in your renovation will give you an understanding of whether or not your budget is realistic.
What is my budget?
Understanding your budget and being realistic about it before you begin will give you the peace of mind you won’t get in over your head. When you’re thinking about your budget, consider if this number includes any design professionals you may need, such as an architect, engineer or designer, or whether you will add their costs on top of your budget. Many renovators will set a budget and are then completely shocked when they start running out of money half way through. This is a less than ideal position to be faced with especially if you’ve only got half a bathroom. You may have a figure that makes sense to you – it’s a percentage of the value of your property, you only have $X of dollars available – however setting a budget is only one half of the equation. Without understanding how much your design is going to cost you, setting a budget alone is not enough. If you really want to know whether or not your budget is going to work for your design you need to have it costed. This is a long and tedious exercise and it takes discipline, energy and time, but understanding the costs associated with what you want to achieve in your renovation will give you an understanding of whether or not your budget is realistic. It’s at this point that you can start to modify your design to fit the costs associated with the renovation to meet your budget.
How much will it cost?
Cost out your ideas before you begin! If you’ve had your eye on those spectacular tiles, make sure you know how much they’re going to cost you before you begin. Start your own cost schedule and input all your numbers to give you an overall understanding of what your design is going to cost. Get the actual cost rather than estimating what you think something is worth. Shockingly, this does happen! If you are ordering items not located in your local area, you’ll also need to take into account freight costs. Freight can add up to a considerable chunk of the budget that you may not have accounted for. Knowing all of the costs beforehand means that if you need to make a design change because your budget requires you to, you’re doing it before the renovation begins and not when you’re in the thick of it. And knowing what everything is going to cost will mean you can make changes that still fits your design style or aesthetic.
Will you DIY the design yourself or engage a professional? Many homeowners give great consideration as to who their builder will be, but they forget that once the builder starts, the builder is expecting answers to a mountain of questions. There are literally thousands of decisions to be made for the design to take shape. And one answer will often bring up another question that requires another answer. If you’re not ready for it, this is the point at which many homeowners start to panic. This is the overwhelming reality of renovating and the pain-point of many homeowners taking on the role of designer. Many of the decisions can be made before you even begin the renovation particularly if you’ve costed out your design but without experience or guidance from a professional you won’t know that these decisions need to be made. If you’re not up for the stress, engage a professional interior designer.
Know the lead-times of every finish, fixture and fitting. Lead-times can impact your budget and renovation timeframe especially if you leave your ordering too late. You don’t want to be ordering fancy tapware from Italy that will take 16 weeks to get to you if you’ve already demolished your one and only bathroom. Knowing how long something will take to get to you before you start will ensure your project runs smoothly. Tip: add the lead-time to your costing spreadsheet of each item so you know when to place your orders.
Where will I live during the renovation?
Think about whether you’re going to live on-site or temporarily relocate during the renovation. If you are going to live on-site during the renovation then it’s a sensible idea to pack up every non-essential item and store it somewhere safe. Effectively, you’ll ‘move’ temporarily, even though you’re still living in your home. Whilst it’s a painful process to consider, it means that trades and contractors won’t have to work around anything and any furniture you’re retaining won’t get damaged. You may end up doing this a number of times depending on the logistics of your build. Trades will generally start on-site at 7.30am so you’ll either need to be ready for when they turn up or just live with the fact that you may be seen in your pyjamas. Consider also you won’t get a sleep in on weekdays, and I hate to say it but even some Saturdays! If you’re temporarily relocating then you’ll want to pack up everything and move it into storage for safe keeping.
While we’re dishing out the bad news, your home is going to become unbearably dusty to the point that you will look around and want to cry. No matter how much you clean, it’s going to look like you haven’t even touched it. At this point I recommend a trip to get dumplings or ice cream or anything that just gets you out of the house. The good news is, once it gets to this stage, you’re on the home stretch and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your new home!
This article was first published 10 April 2019. Update published 1 October 2020.