The humble “renovator’s delight” has become hot property as more and more Australians opt to update their home rather than build from scratch. Whether it’s a whole-house transformation or a one-room makeover, renovating is on the up — and propelling it along is the host of reality reno shows on our TV screens.

Steve Grehan, general manager of Dale Alcock Home Improvement, says on average about 2500 West Australians a year do some sort of significant renovation that requires a building permit (not including those that undergo cosmetic renovations).

Why are so many homeowners eager to wield a sledgehammer at their lounge room walls?

Dominique Travers of Addstyle Master Builders says there are a number of reasons.

“There are the traditional reasons such as the desire to restore or contemporise an old character home, or situations where a family has simply outgrown their existing home and requires more space, ” she said.

“However, renovating and extending have significant financial advantages over moving or rebuilding. Once you consider the high cost of relocating including agent selling fees, removalist costs and stamp duty, you can easily spend upwards of $80,000-$100,000 before you’ve even moved in.

“Alternatively that money can go quite some way towards renovating or extending the home you’re in.”

While improving our homes has long been something of a pastime for Australians, “reality reno” shows such as Seven’s House Rules and The Block on Nine — both ratings hits — are inspiring new would-be renovators.

House Rules host Johanna Griggs, who owns a construction company with husband Todd Huggins, is no stranger to the renovating industry and while she knows these shows portray condensed, unrealistic time frames, they’re often the incentive to get renovation brains ticking.

“People always send me photos of rooms they’ve been inspired to build or makeover from House Rules or Better Homes, ” she said. “The great thing with House Rules is you see couples like Amy and Sean. They had no experience and in a short period of time you can see how much they’ve learnt and how much their level of workmanship has improved. I’m sure there’s someone out there going ‘Well gosh, if they can do it, why can’t I?’”

Ms Travers agrees, saying while TV shows can create unrealistic expectations in regards to budgets and timelines, what’s on display in these shows can whet consumers’ appetites for renovating. “Mostly, I think they present some great design ideas that can transform a home by utilising much of what is already there, ” she said. “They also showcase a lot of new products and trends.”

Johanna Griggs’ top five renovating rules:

1. Planning and preparation — nothing is too over-the-top when it comes to planning renovations.

2. Take photos, tear out pictures and collect samples of everything you love so that you have a clear idea of what you want when it comes time to designing it.

3. Ask questions. So many people get bamboozled by trade talk, and it needn’t be so. If you don’t understand something your contractor is talking about, ask them to clarify it.

4. Be in a place long enough to understand how you want to live in it. Sometimes, the ideals you have aren’t practical to certain locations and you need to work around that.

5. Incorporate your landscape. Even in built-up areas, you can work out ways to create a secluded oasis if you really sort through what you’re putting in your garden.


© The West Australian

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