When it comes to renovating your home, it pays to ask the right questions. PELE FINDSON spoke to five industry experts about the most common questions they encounter, and how they typically respond.

Can I stay in the home while the renovation is going on?

“Absolutely, for the majority of renovations you and your family can stay in your home while it’s under construction, ” Chris Johnston, general manager of Summit Home Improvements, said.

“It’s one of the major benefits of choosing to renovate in the first place, as you do not have the added expense of renting while your home is being transformed.

“Our top tip is to consider your scope of work and make plans so your stay goes smoothly. For example, if your extension or addition requires the removal of a kitchen, then look to purchase a camping kitchen or barbecue.”

I would like to remove a wall to open up the internal space. Is this possible?

RBK Renovations operations manager Malcolm Harris said the answer was yes but was dependent on a few factors.

“The first would be to determine whether the walls to be removed are load-bearing or not, ” he said. “If a wall is load-bearing the removal is still possible, however it just gets a little more complicated.

“In these circumstances we will employ the services of an engineer to specify the method of shifting the roof support, usually by means of a steel or laminated timber beam.

“In most cases the beam can be hidden within the roof space, ” he added.


Ask the right questions: Renovating essentials.

Should I have my renovation designed by an architect?

The most important part of a renovation is the design, according to Jimmie Roche, owner of boutique building company Finished Konstruction.

“If you’re spending half a million to a million dollars on a renovation, you need to spend at least $10,000-$15,000 on a recommended architect, ” he said.

Mr Roche said to consider the architect’s fees in context with the total amount you plan to spend.

“Ten grand isn’t a lot to spend when you’re already spending a considerable sum and you’ll end up with a home that’s going to be much better to live in and ultimately sell.

“You want a seamless flow from the old home to the new — not an addition that looks tacked on.

“An architect really does make a difference — it’s the difference between a great extension and one you might not be totally happy with.”

How many jobs do you have under construction at any one time?

“People are understandably anxious about getting good value for money as well as a top-quality job, so it is important they know how busy their site manager is with other work and how much attention they can pay to their project, ” Australian Renovation Group director Stuart Redwood said.

“We typically have about 10 projects under way at any one time, depending on the size of the jobs. Having a small number of jobs under construction means we can do the lot — painting, installing the pool, landscaping and so on.”

Mr Redwood, working on a small number of projects also meant ARG could be choosy with its trades. “If a trade is not good enough to work on my house, then they’re certainly not good enough for a client’s house, ” he said.

Is a second storey possible?

“Second-storey extensions are immensely popular as they can create valuable extra living or bedroom space without eating into your garden, ” said Dean O’Rourke, general manager of Dale Alcock’s new homes, home improvement and development divisions.

“While it’s true an extra floor can be added to most single-storey properties, we will always send an engineer to check the suitability of your home before any design work starts.”

Mr O’Rourke said that whether building up or out, new additions must also comply with any structural, local council or heritage regulations or standards.

“And if you don’t want to change the look of your house from the street, then a cleverly designed rear extension can give you the space you need while retaining your home’s original curb appeal, ” he said.

“What’s more, a second-storey addition to your home can be much quicker than you would probably expect, taking just three months to build on average.

© The West Australian