Gen Y will tell you that you don’t have to do things anymore or read a textbook because now you can just look up how to do it on www.youtube.com. For Gen X I think the same thing happens with the reality TV shows.
It easy to watch a master at their craft and not realise the hours of work that go into learning that skill.
Do you sometimes look at the renovation or cooking shows and think ‘I could do that’? If you answered ‘yes’ it might be time for your reality check.
Have you ever seen the Mona Lisa Painting? So, Could you paint it?
So what is the secret of the renovation shows like The Block, House Rules or Reno Rumble that make it look so easy to design and style your property that they entice budding interior decorators to try their hand.
The shows concentrate on the decoration, colours, furnishings and pillows all of which can make a huge difference but in the end are just the icing on the cake.
So before you start planning your next renovation here are some other things to consider.
Think about the end goal, what are your look and style going to be? Nothing is going to add to your costs like a change of design half way through. So have a plan. We often recommend that you start with a scrapbook of ideas and styles for the authentic look but you also need to consider things like;
Where and how will you live? Major renovations are disruptive. Think about things like where will we shower or bath while the bathroom is renovated? Where will we cook while the kitchen is being renovated? Now some of these you might be able to work around as the week great BBQ feast we had when I renovated the kitchen putting the stove out of action. Some renovations will be impossible to live around so depending on their scale so you might need to budget for the cost of alternative accommodation and even if it’s just for a short period while major works are carried out the cost of these can add up.
Will we need some permits? You have worked out your plan for the renovations and how you will work with them, the next thing depending on the scale of your renovation, is to obtain the necessary permits. Now some of these will be covered off by some of your trades’ people but others may need council approval or if you are renovating an apartment the strata corporation’s permission. Importantly these permits can be both time consuming and costly, so check what is require before you get underway.
As general rule non-structural renovations where you are not adding or removing walls but instead doing things like new paint, carpeting, all the way through to a new kitchen or bathroom probably won’t need council approval for a free standing house. For units, the rules are different so always check with your body corporate that your renovations comply with the Strata Agreement as some even include things like the colour scheme of the apartment.
In your plan, you should also have contingencies because things often go wrong. Very few renovations offer up no surprises. You might find decayed wood or old wiring that needs to be replaced or find that what appeared to be a simple swap turns out to need the help of a specialist. These delays and the additional work can quickly at up to your costs and if you are trying to make a profit from renovation suck the profit straight out of your bottom line. Always allow at least 10% of your total renovation budget to cover any unexpected surprises.
And if you think that it is so simple nothing could go wrong, I offer the example of my uncle, Hank. The house next door came up for sale and as it had a largely underutilised yard and his property had a small garden, figured he would buy the property next door, move the fence and have two properties with good sized gardens adding to their value. What he didn’t realise was that by moving the wall he would interfere with the access to the sewer line. The result of moving the sewer line was a $30,000 plumbing bill and six months of unusable back yards, all of which started with simple moving a fence line a few metres.
Expect the unexpected and budget for the worst but hope for the best.
With your tradespeople, it’s important to know what is and more importantly, what isn’t, covered in your contract. For example sometimes your builder may exclude or neglect to mention some additional costs for building materials, tools and individual repair work from your contract. Understanding your contract is vital and if you’re not sure about something – ask them to explain just what it is that isn’t clear in the contract. If the material is included it’s also important to discuss what will happen if prices change in between any quotes and work starting. Most builders will supply a fixed price contract valid for a particular period to help avoid any nasty surprises come invoice time. If materials are not included, ensure you also allow 5% for material price rises.
Lastly don’t forget to check your insurance, firstly that it will cover you while the tradespeople are working and secondly if all has gone to plan and the renovation has added value, to include the upgraded value.
So if you are done all these things as we say you now have a goal, you have a plan, you now have to get into action.