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Renovating 101 - Planning is key

Making a Splash

Renovating 101 - Planning is key

Hi everyone,


As I finally get to the end of the 'planning' stage of my renovation, I thought I'd share one of our key learnings throughout the process - the value of investing in the 'planning' stage of your renovation.


Let's start from the beginning...


When we were looking for a builder, both my dad and father-in-law had contacts who they recommended. As my dad was contracting his contact to build his own house this year, we decided to meet my FIL's builder who was a long-term contact who he had met working on film/TV sets over the years.


After meeting with the builder, he confirmed that he would love to take on the project and to work with us through the entire planning process. He wanted to start a consulting business working alongside his daughter as she was learning the CAD design side of renovating. They charged us around half what a standard draftsman would charge but the cracks appeared early...


After every meeting with the builder I was left extremely frustrated at his lack of ideas or ability to suggest simple building elements such as the best materials to use. He also never delivered on the promise to deliver the plans need for our Planning Permission Application and it was only after we'd been working with him for 4 months that my husband decided to project manage the planning process himself.


The only responsibility the builder had at this stage was to finish the plans with his daughter for us to submit to council. In December 2015, we finally submitted our Planning Permission Application to our council. This was 7 long months of working with this builder.


In January 2016 we finally heard the dreaded news from our council...the plans were not acceptable and would need to be completely started again from scratch with a professional draftsman.


We have since switched to my dad's builder who has a huge network of contacts including a great draftsman and the process could not be more different! We have been working with the consultants for 6 weeks and they have managed to completely tweak our layout to fit our brief and maximise our use of space as well as reproduce the plans to the standard required by council.


Their plans could not be more world's apart - see below!


Planning a renovation is super expensive and even without an Architect, you can be looking at around $10k before you even have the go-ahead from council. My advice is to invest in quality plans and consultants in the planning stage as it will save you time and money in the long run!


Most people wouldn't dream of using anything other than quality contractors to build their house, so treat the planning stage the same way.


Also, trust your instinct and don't be afraid to decline recommendations from family and friends if they do not fit your brief or you feel even the slightest twinge of doubt when you meet. I knew from the beginning that this builder wasn't all he seemed, but didn't want to offend by FIL. Big mistake that has cost us $$$ and we are now 6 months behind our planned schedule.


More lessons to come...


Example of unprofessional plans (rejected by council):

Bad plans.JPG


Professional plans (by a qualified draftsman):

Good plans.JPG

Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: Renovating 101 - Planning is key

Many thanks for sharing your experiences @KingStreetReno. Glad to see your project is back on track. 


There are certainly a lot of initial costs when embarking on a major renovation project, including the costs of surveyors, soil testing by a geotechnical engineer, structural engineers and of course the architect or draftsperson. I agree that these costs should be seen as an investment and that detailed planning and preparation is crucial for not only getting the best outcome but avoiding unexpected costly surprises later on.


I encourage the Workshop community to share their experiences and learnings. 



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rRe: Renovating 101 - Planning is key

The difference in the two plans is staggering! Glad to hear your project is back on track and can't wait to see some progress shots when it's all coming together.

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