So, you’ve decided to renovate – Congratulations!
You’ve bought a dear old dump in a great street and now you’re going to turn it into the best house in that great street. Or maybe you’ve been living in the dear old dump for years and you’ve finally had enough! Or the kids are starting to kick up about sharing bedrooms and one bathroom … you’re simply bursting at the seams and desperately need an extension.
Whatever your home improvement scenario, here’s something that’s pretty important:
Don’t rush into it.
If you suddenly decide in June that you want a big, beautiful new family room to accommodate the entire extended family for that year’s Christmas dinner, you’re probably headed for disappointment. Not to mention possible disaster! Home renovations represent a major investment – in money, time and emotional energy. Careful, inclusive planning on every single level is vital.
And for buyers of dear old dumps – if you can possibly bear it, try and live in it, unrenovated, for twelve months before drawing up your plans. You’ll discover all sorts of aspects – angles of light, prevailing breezes, spaces good and bad – that you may or may not want to incorporate into your renovations. Plus we often live in our homes very differently in summer than we do in winter. You’re not really going to get a feel for the ‘bones’ of your house until you’ve experienced it in all its varying moods and seasons.
Talk to the neighbours
We’ve all heard stories about WW3 breaking out between previously friendly neighbours over renovation plans. If at all possible, bring your neighbours up to speed with your ideas right from the start; try and enlist their thoughts and input on the project. A friendly chat over a cup of tea or a beer can work wonders. And neighbourly approval is usually a matter of give and take. Don’t expect a smooth ride, for example, if your new two story extension is going to rob their kitchen of its natural light.
Budget, budget, budget
Dreary but vital fact of life: renovations are nearly always going to eat up more of your hard-earned dollars than you expect! Allow roughly 25% for contingencies and you’ll avoid nasty surprises. And don’t skimp on quality when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms – both are very important to the value of your home. As a rule of thumb, a kitchen should comprise roughly 5% of the cost of a home build, a bathroom 1%. Plus don’t forget about possible extra costs once your renovation is complete – higher rates and water and power bills, for example; even insurance premiums.
And there’s a good chance you’ll change your mind about something during the process, which, once again, may well cost you! Don’t be too hard on yourself if and when this happens – it’s a pretty standard occurrence.
Not only will renovations generally cost extra – they’ll usually take more time (see Christmas dinner scenario, above) than you bargained for. If you expect the whole process to have some hiccups and delays you won’t get stressed when they inevitably occur. And if everything does go according to plan, you’ll get a wonderful surprise!
Try and use an architect
He or she may cost more, but a good one is worth every penny. Architects are trained to use incorporate space, light, form and function seamlessly into renovation plans, and these factors can make a huge difference to your everyday quality of living. You may have your own ‘perfect’ plan in mind for a draftsman to draw up, but what are its hidden (often very significant) faults? How could it be improved from an architectural viewpoint? Seemingly simple details like the width of a hallway, the height of a stairwell or even shadows on a wall can make all the difference to the impact, livability and ultimately the value of your home. Plus an architect should not only be able to recommend a suitable builder, they are extremely valuable in managing the whole project. (See ‘Don’t DIY’, below.)
But whether you employ an architect, a designer or an experienced draughtsman to draw up your plans, it’s vital to do your homework first. Check out his or her work thoroughly, talk to past clients, and make sure you’re on the same page – design, communication and budget-wise.
One more thought about your design – try and favour classic over trendy. Homes that slavishly follow the latest fashions in building will inevitably date – very quickly.
Unless you’ve already successfully renovated a number of other houses, and have a host of skilled, prompt and reasonably priced tradesmen at your beck and call – hire a licensed builder. ‘Inexperienced owner builder’ more often than not equates to ‘Inexperienced Owner nightmare’, both in terms of cost, time and quality – not to mention sanity!
Research the quality builders in your area, then get quotes from 3 of them. You may well have to stand in line for your preferred choice, but an excellent builder is well worth the wait.
Move out if possible
Don’t underestimate the disruption renovations will cause to you and your family’s routine. Apart from everything else, first-time renovators are usually appalled by the massive quantities of dust generated by the whole exercise! So if you have any chance of decamping, don’t hesitate! And if you’re forced to stay put, once again, expect the worst. That way you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
One good tip for storing your possessions: Keep lists of where everything is stashed. That way you won’t go crazy peering under dust sheets and rummaging endlessly through self storage units.
A fresh start
Despite all these grim warnings and dire predictions, there are, of course major payoffs to renovating your home. Apart from anything else, renovating represents a golden opportunity to declutter, reassess and simplify your living environment. A good renovation will revitalise your whole lifestyle. With the right planning and forethought, it will look – and be – fabulous!
Betaview are leading Sydney specialists in the supply and installation of all types of aluminium replacement windows and doors. With everything from sliding windows to bi-fold or stacker doors, we’ve got your custom renovation needs covered. Call us today for friendly, expert advice and an obligation-free quote on 02 962 35611