Renovating is like running a marathon. Well, let’s just say that I have never run a marathon, nor plan to, in fact the furthest I have ever probably run is about 10km (and even then I might be fibbing!) but the analogy remains the same. In theory it sounds great…a stretch, but achievable. You start off excited, a few butterflies, then comes the blood, sweat and tears…the empty feeling that it will never end, and then all of a sudden you reach that finish line…exhausted but exhilarated that you did it!
Like any good athlete, you train, you plan, you prepare. Whilst I can’t give you training tips, I can give you a solid guideline for planning your renovation. Before that first wall gets knock down, make sure you do some careful planning, I promise it will pay off in the long run (excuse the pun).
- The Intent
Simply put, why? You don’t wake up one morning and decide to knock down walls. So, think about what the reasons are that have led you down the path to renovation.
Assess your needs and intent thoroughly to ensure you really know what you want to achieve before you embark on the process. Perhaps aesthetically the kitchen has always driven you mad, or you’ve hated that 70s avocado green bathroom suite since you moved in, or maybe it’s because your family is expanding and you need a little more space.
If there is a partner, husband, wife, or other involved, it’s vital that you are both on the same page right from the start, especially regarding needs versus wants.
- The plan
Identifying the key things you want to achieve is a key part of the planning process, incorporating functional, structural and styling perspectives, and creating priorities within this.
Make a list (yes, sigh, I do love a list) by walking around your property and identify all the little details you would like to change, amend, adapt, and then analyse and consolidate. Before spending any money on a renovation, it’s key to understand whether this will add value to your property, and whether or not you might be better off rather relocating than renovating.
- The (dreaded) budget
I cannot stress enough how vital this part of the planning process is. The reason most people go completely off budget during a renovation is because they haven’t assessed and planned their needs properly from the start, or they are totally delusional in terms of how far their buck will stretch.
Always allow a contingency amount in the budget to account for unplanned or added extras. This should never be less than 15% of total budget.
Be realistic. It’s simply not worth going into debt over…rather wait and do the job later, or simplify the work.
Always consider hiring an expert, like an interior designer or project planner who understands budgets, can give informed advice and support throughout the process, and who has all the right contacts in the industry. (Contact me).
Compromise. It’s a hard pill to swallow, I get that, but sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to fit your budget. Go back to your list, compare your must haves vs the nice to haves, and focus on the things you can’t do without.
Think long term. Often when a budget is tight (and let’s be honest, 9 times out of 10 it is), we tend to overlook longer terms savings such as installing energy efficient technology or materials. Basic technology such as good insulation, LED lighting, solar panels or rainwater tanks will save you a fortune down the road.
This being said though, your budget needs to be a reflection of your intent. If you know you are going to stay in the property only for another year, then make relevant decisions accordingly.
Whatever you do, do not cut corners to try and save a little cash, it’s honestly not worth it and it will come back to bite you in the butt. Do it right first time.
- Bring in the A team
Based on what your plan is you should be able to easily identify what you can/ should and shouldn’t do yourself. Here is not the place to take shortcuts and paying professionals for the bigger or “harder” jobs can save you more in the long run. Take it from me, plastering a wall for example, is a lot harder than it looks.
Knowing exactly what you want done and how, better equips you to call in the right people for the job. Do your research, get referrals from friends on whom to use, and always ensure you get a couple of quotes to ensure you are getting the best price. Don’t always hire the cheapest guy, as many people undercut on quoting to get the job and then hit you with a higher bill down the line. Be realistic – if you get 3 quotes and 2 are similar, but one is only half that, try understanding WHY. never be afraid to probe a little further.
Ensure you do the right research and understand what legal requirements you have to adhere to such as planning permission.
5. The fine print
Sometimes in all the excitement the practicalities are forgotten. Carefully consider all aspects of the renovation: time frame – get realistic timelines from your building team, understanding what needs to be ordered and what the schedule of works looks like. Contractor availability? Stock availability?
Think about who is going to project manage the job. If you have a full time job, then how will you manage being on site every day making decisions?
Are you going to stay on the site during the renovation, and if so….seriously (this is enough to turn even a sane man a little crazy)!?
If you aren’t, then where are you going to stay and have you factored these costs in?
Don’t be blinded by the prize at the end…be practical, logical and think all aspects through.
6. Get creative
Work with what you have…understand the key strengths of your home and enhance this. Let the words reuse and refinish take hero position over replacing…sometimes all it takes is a little imagination and a huge Pinterest board!
Keep it simple.
Look around you. What exterior changes or adaptions have your neighbours done, or what could you do to compliment the neighbourhood? Don’t be the asshole in the street.
Don’t let trends dictate your decisions. Design trends come and go, make a space YOU want to come home to. This is where something like creating a Pinterest board is hugely helpful. Gather all the images that speak to you, what are the recurring patterns or threads that you keep being attracted to, and would these elements work in your space?
Get advice. Ask anybody who has recently gone through the process – what lessons they learnt, and what they might do differently 2nd time around. No two renovations are the same, but no harm will come from seeking other’s advice or opinions.
Browse shops and restaurants for design ideas. Pour over design blogs and magazines.
Visit home improvement shows and trawl local markets.
Don’t let the process overwhelm you, let it be the adventure and ENJOY the process.
Ultimately, let your space tell your story.
At the end of the day, we can all agree its stressful process, but if you enter into it with your head in the game, the end result will be far sweeter.
Good luck and happy planning.