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What are your top tips for renovating a house?

  1. Plans.jpgEstablish what your property is worth now and predict its value after renovation. (Research previous sales of highly renovated properties in the area to predict the equity gain.)


  1. Set a sensible budget, be realistic about what can be achieved within that budget and never overcapitalise.


  1. Plan. Plan the look you are after, what properties are sought after in the area, the people you are appealing to – and target that specific demographic. Plan the renovation. Schedule the trades. Select product early.


  1. Don’t make emotional decisions when choosing fixtures and fittings, even if you are upgrading for yourself. Remember that everything goes out of fashion eventually, so keep a cool head and watch the pennies.


  1. Find good tradesmen through recommendations and ask to view their work and speak to previous clients. Get quotes.


  1. Keep your trades happy. Pay them on time, give them lots of praise and coffee when they work well. It makes it easier to approach them for discussion when something is not up to scratch. Also, keep notes in a log or diary.


  1. Keep up to date with your paperwork, and keep all of your receipts together.


  1. Style to sell, or enjoy your hard work and stay in a home you love!



Here’s tips for other renovators from my own bathroom project.


Be prepared: We had spreadsheets, we'd looked online, in-store and all over social media but despite all our research, we still weren't fully prepared. Deliveries run late, and hidden problems are uncovered. Purchase as many items as you can as far out as possible to avoid installation delays if a delivery deadline is missed.


Your budget is probably wrong: Ours certainly was. We budgeted $30,000, but the total came to $35,000. Why did we blow out? The main reason is that we didn't stick to the budget on one particular item – we ended up spending a lot more on the vanity than we had budgeted. The other area where costs blew out was tiles – I miscalculated the amount of tiles we'd need, then we decided mid-project to tile all the way to the ceiling. It all adds up. Set aside 10 percent of your budget for unexpected surprises to cover yourself.


Get advice on your selections: Originally we selected a swivel tap to match the bathroom vanity taps. We wanted a swivel tap so when the bath was filled the tap could be safely tucked against the wall. Our daughters treat the bath like their own private water theme park, so keeping the tap out of the way was high on our list of safety measures.


Unfortunately, this particular tap took its sweet time arriving. It finally showed up to the party long after all the other tapware had been installed. However, our plumber recommended against using this particular tap as there was the possibility that it could come loose from the wall. Thankfully, he was able to source a similar-looking matte black tap that fit, but unfortunately it doesn't swivel. The takeaway is that if we ever do a major bathroom renovation again, we'll run the tap selection by our plumber before purchasing.


Check, check then check again: If you're doing this for the first time then maybe run your figures by a friend or someone you know who has renovation experience. They may pick up on something you've missed, which could save you a potentially costly delay in the future.


Work with good people: Renovations take time. Our bathroom took four weeks in the end – the Olympics are run and done in half that time. Before you kick off a big project, make sure you meet your tradies first. Get multiple quotes and make sure you feel comfortable with who you give the job to. We chose our builder because, during the quote process, he was happy to discuss options and welcomed our input in the final layout of the room. He also had a good portfolio of work on his Facebook page. As for our other trades, we were lucky that our electrician is a relative and the plumber is his best mate and we've worked together previously on other projects. There's a lot to be said for having trust in your trades – ask around and get recommendations from people you trust. It can mean the difference between a great outcome and one that you're less than satisfied with. - Darren


From a double garage and workshop build, here’s a few helpful tips for tackling your own D.I.Y. build:


Before I started this project I had no idea of what I needed to do. Check with your local council's planning and building departments and they will be able to help guide you through the process. Try and talk to the same person from each department throughout the process, so they get to know you and you don't have to keep explaining your situation to someone new each time you talk to them.


The first thing is planning permission – you need to find out what you can and can't build on your property. The planning department will tell you what you need to provide. Take any of the drawings you have in, even if they are rough sketches. The department can then make suggestions about what you can and can't do.


It's worth having contacts in the building industry and don’t be afraid to shop around. I had vast ranging quotes for my slab and earth works. I ended up asking someone I know who is a project manager in the building industry for someone that they’d recommend for the slab and got it done much cheaper than the quotes I received. Then the concreter recommended someone for the earthworks, so I ended up again saving a heap compared to quotes I had received. - Seaton


Planning and preparation are crucial. There will always be things that go wrong and little surprises along the way (so you also need contingency money!) but there's a lot you can do before you start to ensure you stick to budget. The most important is having detailed plans and costed specifications/fittings/finishes. You don't want to get into a job only to realise that its going to cost you double what you had anticipated/guessed. - RenoQueen


1. Your relationship with your partner and tradies needs to nurtured at all times. I found communicating with different personalities requires (besides a degree in psychology) a little bit of compassion and a lot of honesty. 


2. Talk, talk and talk again to everyone involved about your ideas and what you want done. People  tend to fill in the blanks with their own interpretation if you aren't completely clear on what you want leaving the end result far removed from your own vision.


3. At the end of the day, don't stress if something isn't working as you planned, chat with others who have done something the same or similar and remember everything can be undone and reworked to achieve what you truely wanted - Don't settle for anything less as you will be looking at the project everyday and you want to love what you are looking at. - Nikkie_P

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