Before you begin your project, here’s a handy list to help you plan ahead, stay on track and manage the budget.
STEP ONE: PLANNING
There are a number of different ways to go about renovating and you’ll need to decide what is best suited to your lifestyle and budget.
A common way of undertaking a major home renovation is to engage a building company which specialises in renovations and can either take care of your design in-house or work with an outside architect or building designer.
“They will take a lot of the stress out of it because they’ll go from start to finish, ” Trevor Smith, of Home Base Expo, said.
Alternatively, you may choose to make an architect your first point of call. According to architect Brad Cook, of Formlab, architects typically walk the client through the whole design and build process, also overseeing the construction phase, which they will tender out on your behalf.
Some homeowners choose to owner-build and manage the project themselves — generally with the objective of saving money — but renovation expert Sasha deBretton Gordon, from Million Dollar Makeovers, said this should be approached with caution because any mistakes could have a significant impact in terms of cost, time and stress.
STEP TWO: BUDGETING
Determine your budget early on — this will influence the scope of the project and your design.
Mr Smith advised keeping a contingency fund of 10 per cent since renovations carry the risk of unexpected problems, which may increase costs.
STEP THREE: CHOOSING YOUR TEAM
“The best way to choose (who to work with) is through word of mouth, ” said Steve Grehan, general manager of Dale Alcock Home Improvement.
“Talk to friends, find out who they used and if they were happy with the results.”
When approaching companies, Ms deBretton Gordon recommended seeking references, speaking to past clients and viewing completed jobs.
“Also ask to go on-site and see real-life renovations occurring to check their system and quality and trades, ” she said.
Look out for awards that the company has won and membership of professional organisations such as the Housing Industry Association or Master Builders’ Association. Architects must be registered with the Architects Board, while painters, plumbers and electricians must be licensed.
STEP FOUR: DESIGN
To achieve a design which will suit your family and lifestyle, Mr Grehan recommended putting together lists of ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, as well as considering your future needs, such as whether you plan to have more children.
“Think about what you really want out of the renovation. Is it to increase your entertaining space, create zoning between kids and parents areas, or create a more functional design?”
Mr Cook said that a good design would also incorporate key considerations such as universal design —“wide doors and passages, lever handles instead of door knobs and the like”— as well as energy efficiency and sustainability.
STEP FIVE: NOTIFYING NEIGHBOURS
Owner-builders will have a range of additional tasks to sort out at the planning stage — from obtaining council approvals and arranging insurance to obtaining owner-builder registration if your project is valued more than $20,000.
“You need to advise your neighbours as to what’s happening too — it’s just good manners, ” Mr Smith said.
STEP SIX: TO STAY OR GO?
Staying in your home during construction can save substantially on rent but Mr Smith warned that you should be prepared for some inconvenience and mess, no matter how considerate your builder and tradespeople were.
If you decide to stay, he recommended taking steps such as ensuring there is a portable toilet for tradespeople to use so that they don’t have to use your bathroom.
STEP SEVEN: THE BUILD PROCESS
Your level of involvement with the construction phase will be determined by personal preference — Ms deBretton Gordon said she and her staff typically had weekly or daily contact with their clients either via email, phone or on site, although some preferred to be “hands off” and even go away on holiday.
Regardless, Mr Grehan said you should expect contact from your builder at least once a week and be able to directly contact your site manager, who is responsible for monitoring the progress of the job.
Equally, you should ensure you are readily contactable in case of queries from site. “If you choose not to be involved, you take a risk of something being done that you don’t like, ” Mr Smith cautioned.
STEP EIGHT: FINISHING TOUCHES
It can be tempting to cut corners to get over the finish line but hiring a professional interior designer can pay dividends.
Your outside space shouldn’t be neglected either, and Mr Cook advised engaging a professional such as a landscape designer from the beginning of the project for the best results.
TIP: Mr Smith said it was important for all homeowners to notify their insurance company of impending construction work — if you don’t, you risk voiding your policy.
© The West Australian
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