Top five insider tips for renovation success

Top five insider tips for renovation success

Over the past two years – actually more like two and a half years if you include the preparation and approvals time – I have been a member of a unique, though huge, group of people.

Since May 2021, my husband and I have been working on what we thought would be a pretty straightforward renovation. There's always twists with renovations, but could we have selected a tougher, more complicated time to do it . . um NO.

We've renovated before, but this time we faced Covid impacts, the supplies drought, services scarcity, Covid a couple more times, plus the usual tricky pivots involved in each project.

The good news is that we made it. We finally moved back in last week and, while there's still a few projects to finish off, we really love the end result.



Thanks to the housing shortage we're facing in Australia along with the explosion in suburbs that deliver massive financial uplift, renovations are set to be a huge focus of the next few years so I have outlined a few tips for you to consider if renovations are on your horizon.

1. Make sure you meet your 'actual' builder – I'm not talking about the guy who takes you through the paperwork, the designs and the contract. Meet the guy who will be walking through your house every day for the next six to sixteen months. Ensure you can be upfront with the person who is actually doing the work and ensure they're really across what you're trying to achieve. They also need to be exceptionally organised so you don't lose months waiting for your kitchen to be installed simply because the back doors haven't been sealed. Yes. . I have a story about this

2. Establish a streamlined accounts tracking process and filing system. I love to be organised but I still had to have a couple of attempts at this and it wasn't really until about half way through that I settled on a good approach. Sure . . our renovation was extreme (aka – big), but even if you're just updating the bathroom there's times when the quotes, invoices and installations are happening really fast so you need a really clear way to keep across everything. Then, of course, ensure you regularly audit what has been paid and what is still to come. Thankfully our builder had a good system, but we were also coordinating items so if we hadn't been on top of it all there was a couple of times where we could have massively over paid. Stay vigilant.

3. Lean into the planning in the early stages. Thank goodness I knew this rule and learned this early in my property life. We really swotted over the plans – plus we had lived in the house for quite some time so we had time to really think through the uses of every inch of the property. Remember it's easy to move a wall while it's just a sketch or concept but will cost you thousands and (worse) heaps of lost time if you have to muck around with planning changes after you have commenced the build.

4. Purchase your appliances before you sign off on your kitchen / pantry / laundry (KPL). We were in a bit of an extreme situation due to building delays, but I signed off on my initial KPL design in January 2022. We purchased the fridge because we knew it was pivotal but I didn't worry too much about the other items because delays were starting to become evident. When it was time to lock everything in, we checked the appliances were available and then signed off on the final design . .this was August 2023. In September 2023, we purchased the remaining appliances and booked delivery for October 2023. Early October 2023 we were informed that our very special oven was no longer available in Australia and no longer in production. Massssiiivvve drama. A story for another time : – ).

5. Stay true to your vision though be open to improvements. Thankfully this was something we actually did quite well. We were really focussed on what we wanted, but EVERYONE had an opinion on what we should do with each room – ie – size, shape, door location etc. I always listened to what the builder, the tiler, the electrician, the neighbours, and people at the coffee shop would suggest. Then I would either incorporate their suggestions or just stay on track. This meant we ended up with an excellent outcome and kept most people happy along the way.

It was epic but we're glad we did it . . well, we will be glad after a couple of weeks more sleep. Would have been better if half of Australia wasn't renovating and building at the same time as us though. Things are much better now, with builders even starting to be proactive at attracting work and the cost of supplies starting to recede.

What does this mean for you?

Are you trying to decide whether renovating is the right thing for you? Or, have you been looking for the right house but you're starting to think the only way to get the right house is to purchase something with easy renovation potential? If you would like to bounce some ideas around to look at the pros and cons, remember you can book in for your Property Clarity Call here.

Author: Debra Beck-Mewing

Debra Beck-Mewing is the Founder and CEO of The Property Frontline. She has more than 20 years' experience in buying property Australia-wide, and is skilled in helping buyers use a range of strategies including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is experienced in identifying tailored opportunities, homes and sourcing properties that have multiple uses.  She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business. As a passionate advocate for increasing transparency in the property and wealth industries, Debra is a popular speaker on these topics. She is also an author, podcast host, Editor in Chief of Property Portfolio Magazine and participates on numerous committees including the Property Owners' Association.

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Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice.  We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.

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