We ask the experts the 10 most common mistakes people make when renovating their home, and how to avoid them before they happen.




1. Overambitious DIY

Don’t underestimate the skill that renovations can require, said Robert Travers, managing director of home improvement specialist Addstyle Master Builders.

“If you look at someone laying bricks, for example, you think it looks easy but the hardest part is the preparation work, ” he said. Call in a professional for anything structural.

2. Going over budget

Although failure to estimate costs correctly was the cause of most cost blowouts, Home Base Expo general manager Trevor Smith said even seasoned professionals could go over budget because of unforeseen issues.

“When they pull your roof off, it might have white ants, ” he said. Retain a contingency fund of about 10 per cent of the project’s total value.

3. Bad colour choices

Poor design choices that date quickly can affect your property’s resale value, said Sasha de Bretton-Gordon, of Fast Renovations. “Use a colour consultant to do your colours, at a minimum, but use a designer for a complete picture as they will add massive value to the home by getting the ‘look’ right, ” she said.

4. To stay or go?

Dale Alcock Home Improvement general manager Brad Moore said while portable bathrooms and kitchens and temporary walls can help ease the practical strain, you must consider carefully the potential emotional stress involved in living in a home while renovating it.

5. Not vetting builders or trades properly

Ask for — and check — references from tradespeople and builders and always get a written quote, Mr Travers said. “You can tell a lot from appearances, ” he said. If something does go wrong, your avenues for recourse will be maximised if you use a registered builder.

6. Not planning ahead

Don’t expect to plan as you go, Mr Moore warned. Even simple selections such as toilets and baths need to be made early so ensuite services are installed to suit them, while you’ll also need to check if your switchboard needs to be upgraded to handle any new electrical points. Furthermore, Housing Industry Association WA executive director John Dastlik said existing services, such as power, water, gas and main sewer pipe locations and any easements on your property, can have a big impact on your plans.

7. Incorrect scheduling of tradespeople

Scheduling tradespeople in the wrong order can cause delays, send costs up and result in very unhappy tradies, Ms de Bretton-Gordon said.

8. Not getting the appropriate paperwork

As a member of the Building Disputes Tribunal, Mr Travers emphasised the importance of having a written contract stating what is to be done, the price and who will supply what.

By law, all contracts valued over $10,000 must be in writing and all renovations valued over $20,000 must have a building licence. Mr Travers recommended getting written receipts for payments to avoid accusations of collusion in tax evasion and “never, ever” paying more than a standard deposit up-front.

9. Not checking your insurance policy

Ring your insurer and ask whether you’ll be covered for theft or damage to your possessions and property during renovations, Mr Dastlik said.

10. Overcapitalising

The risk of overcapitalising shouldn’t be an issue if you’re planning to stay in your home for at least a few years, according to Mr Moore.

But if you want a more immediate return on your investment, Bunnings’ Clive Duncan suggested going for a few DIY improvements in key areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, rather than a full-blown extension.


© The West Australian

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