Top 7 tips for your build or renovation project

design edit issue 4

There’s so much to think about when you undertake a new build or renovation project.  It takes serious planning and preparation - but the satisfaction of creating a space that’s completely bespoke for you and your family makes it so worth it!  These tips will serve as a great starting point for those about to start this adventure.

Photo | Turton Oliver

1. Planning

The time you spend up front planning, researching, looking at ideas, designs and products will save you even more time and money later.  Believe me, it’s better to invest more time at this stage rather than rushing things and having regrets. Consult with professionals, like building companies and designers, early on in your planning process - they will bring imagination, experience and knowledge to your project so that it’s the very best it can be - and they will have advice on how to create the spaces you want within your budget.

Once your plans are fully drafted, chat them through with trusted friends or family who have gone through a build or reno experience. A good friend knows how you and your family live and will be able to assess the plans from an objective, practical point of view. 

Try to be as thorough as possible in your planning - and you'll thank yourself later. 

2. Budgeting

Know your spending limits - be really clear and specific about how much you can (and want to) invest in the project.  Before you even start any designs, make sure your dreams and your budget are compatible. A simple way to do this is to establish a square meterage cost in your area - go to show show homes, talk to builders and friends who have recently done a similar project. Then apply this square meterage cost to the size of your project to see how realistic it is.  

You can then adjust square meterage, finishes, upgrades and splurges to meet your budget. Always be clear on the “must haves” versus the “maybes” when budgeting for your new build or renovation. As a rule, invest in the essentials, the things you use every day that are integral to the house. The design of the home or renovation, quality construction, flooring and the kitchen are key to invest in, while splurges like a special cladding, underfloor heating or a rain shower can be adjusted when the final costings are complete. For a big project, always use a professional to cost up the job - a final “working” budget should be developed once your designs are finished and you have completed the cost estimating process with your project manager or building contractor. 

Tip: make sure that you tack on at least an extra 20% for those inevitable issues or splurges that will happen along the way.  

And don’t let television makeover shows set your time or budget expectations - I think they almost never represents reality!

3. Have a vision and commit to it!   

Be really clear of the look and style of your finished home or space - it will make all the decisions along the way so much easier. Pull images from magazines, scour Pinterest and Houzz, visit showrooms, take lots of pictures of looks that you love - you'll start to see a clear style emerging. Refine the images to form a reference for your project - and refer back to them for inspiration and to keep you on track! And if you are overwhelmed, find a designer who can help clarify a vision for you.

It's also better for your budget, your sanity and your relationships with tradespeople if you have selected finishes and fittings before the project begins. Making changes after building has begun is expensive and can cause delays. Even little changes can translate to extra costs - so do your research and planning, and then commit! 

4. Don’t stress about trends

Trends are for accessorising, not for the design. Remember that trends come and go - but you're investing for the long term. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a high-quality job in a classic style. You won't regret quality construction and finishes. I don't think classic ever has to be boring - but future proof your project by aiming for a timeless design.

5. Call The professionals

Even if it's a relatively small renovation, consult a professional. Pros know their stuff - how to work within and maximise your budget, how to avoid costly mistakes, advice on the project and a wealth of insiders’ information. Your builder is a key partner - you need a team you can totally trust. Word of mouth is a great way to find the best team. And remember to get more than one referral before you commit - and actually make contact and speak with these past clients if at all possible.  

6. Be present

Be on site as often as you can, even if you're not living there. The smallest detail to a contractor could be a big detail to you! Queries will come up and you need to be there to respond to them and make decisions. And redoing things costs time and money.  If possible, do a site visit every day.  

7. AND Have fun! 

There's nothing more rewarding than watching your dream become a reality! So enjoy the process - the good and the challenging - and look forward to the days ahead when the work is complete and you can enjoy the results of all your hard work.  

I hope these tips help you prepare for your new build or renovation project. And if you need some help to clarify the vision for your project, make informed and confident decisions or ultimately to create a space that you absolutely love, just call or email me to see how I can help.