This blog post provides a checklist for starting a major renovation or extension project. Nevertheless, these principles are substantially true for small renos too.
We cannot emphasize too much on the importance of careful planning before engaging professionals.
The suggested steps for smart renovators are as follows. We have listed them in the order you should follow to put you on the right path for success.
- Make a wish list: Create a list of your desired changes and consider your real needs in terms of space, light, recreation, and storage. Think about why you want these changes, why your current space does not satisfy you, and how the new space will address your needs. Other things like who will be using it, at what time of day are worthwhile considerations along with noise generated or the need for peace and quiet and privacy. Gather some visual inspirations from magazines etc.
- Do an audit: A simple layout plan of the house will assist with this task and will be useful a little later when talking with 3rd parties. This is easier than what you might think and will involve measuring the actual space / dimensions and how they are currently being used and accessed. Assess each room in your house, noting the current layout and how the space is being used. Consider if rooms can serve dual purposes or if walls can be removed to create larger spaces. Identify any potential problems such as asbestos or structural issues.
- Money and budgeting: Determine your budget and maximum spending capacity, including savings and borrowing capacity. Keep in mind the cost and availability of temporary accommodation during the renovation if you will need to move out. Keep some funds reserved for unexpected expenses or changes in circumstances. At this early stage it’s too early to concern yourself with what things actually cost, that will come soon enough. Now is the time to have a realistic appraisal of what you can really afford in dollar terms.
- Start initial ‘no obligation’ discussions with professionals: Seek advice from designers, builders, and project managers. Research and speak with multiple professionals until you find competent and trustworthy individuals to work with. Consider their expertise, track record, and compatibility with your goals and budget. It’s highly likely that some of your initial ideas may change in this process but don’t lose sight of your budget.
- Set priorities: At this point you’ll need to consider whether or not your budget is likely to be sufficient to carry out your renovation. If not, identify tasks you can do yourself to reduce costs, but be aware of jobs that require professional work or certifications. Prioritize resolving any major problems before starting other projects. Inevitably there will be things that you have to carry out sooner rather than later, so you will need to set some priorities.Establish a project sequence.
- Detailed planning – appointing professionals: This is where many people face the dilemma of choosing between a Designer or a Builder or architect. Don’t forget considering a Project Manager. Whichever way you choose, a very smart thing to do at this point is to commission a Site Plan. It will form the basis of all design from all consultants from the outset and save you money in the long run. You’ll very likely need one to get your Council approvals anyway, so it makes sense to do that sooner rather than later to get the most use and it won’t cost you any more money. Choosing an architect or designer or project manager will help you flesh out some of your ideas and give you some choices for the style and feel of your new home sympathetic to some of your own ideas. It’s during this process that you’ll find out what can be achieved with your budget. Builders work best with a plan that has already been formulated.
- Dotting the ‘I’s & crossing the ‘T’s: You’ve no doubt heard the words “the devil is in the detail”? Never was this truer than when you find yourself at this stage. Obtain references and thoroughly research the professionals you plan to hire. This goes for anyone including us. These days with the prevalence of the internet Google Reviews are well worth studying as well as other review sites. Ensure they listen to your needs and desires. When obtaining quotes, provide comprehensive information and ensure consistency in the scope of work. Before engaging a consultant or contractor, it is important to use a compliant written contract. Most of the consultants and contractors you engage will be required to have a licence. The Queensland Building & Construction Commission [QBCC] is where to look to check if they are indeed licenced and where you will find a wealth of other useful information as well as some standard contracts you could be well advised to use.
Unplanned renovations lead to mistakes and we’ve seen a lot of them. We are often called in to take over renovations that have gone off the rails.
We have compiled a list of the 12 most common renovation mistakes that we see. We call them the ‘Dirty Dozen’! You can access them here
There are two other things to give consideration to if your reno is a big one or involves additions / extensions/ a reconfiguration of layout. Read more here
This is why people use us for their big renovation project
Peace of mind – Guidance – Satisfaction
“Over 8 years ago my wife and I started on our journey to build our dream home. In 2012 we bought a 100 year old Queenslander nestled beautifully on an 800 m2 block in Ashgrove – an opportunity most people aspire to. Unfortunately, the house was in dire need of a renovation – something neither of us had done before.
Our plan to improve our home began immediately and we sold our investment properties to accumulate money to renovate our family home. Five years on we had set ourselves up financially (so we thought) and were ready to renovate, but did not have any experience or guidance on how to move forward.
We went through a tough design period dealing with designers (something naive renovators shouldn’t do without direction) and after 8 months finally had plans to tender out. To our dismay and shock all of the quotes returned were $100,000 above what we could afford.
It was at this point it was suggested we speak to Jacon at SCM. After 1 meeting it was clear to us that SCM offered the guidance that we wished we had before we started our design process. Within 3 months SCM had shaved $90,000 of our project (inclusive of their fee) while still having everything we wanted in our build.
Now, the only regret of my renovation was that we never engaged SCM at the beginning of our project to co-ordinate our design and council submissions – would have saved more money not dealing with designers directly. Their management of start to finish was stress free and reassuring as they dealt with every aspect of the build. All we did was watch it happen with a sense of pride and happiness. They were the perfect middle-man who worked for the client before themselves of their agenda (something that is rare in the building industry).
Overall, we would not have renovated if it was not for SCM. They are worth every cent and second of time they require.” –
Ryan Apps – Ashgrove Avenue, Ashgrove