Top 10 Renovation Tips

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Spend time planning your renovation to keep budgets in check and maximize resale value

1. Rules and regulations

Research the specific building regulations of your local government area before you start renovating so you’re not hit with any costly surprises or extra unforeseen charges.

Some councils have regulations that are designed to maximise sustainability or reduce the risk of bushfire and flood damage.

Other councils have design rules to maintain the character of certain suburbs or localities.

Prior research won’t necessarily change the bottom line figure, but it will make the full cost evident before the renovation begins.

2. Smart budgeting

There are many variables that can affect a finely tuned renovation timetable so it’s wise to assume something may go wrong.

Weeks of wet weather can delay a project significantly, causing added expenses further down the line.

If the specific tradie you wanted is unavailable, you may need to book someone else who charges more or takes longer to complete the job.

Having a bit of spare money tucked away will ensure you don’t have to skimp on quality or cut corners.

3. Valuation

Renovating is always a risk but make it a calculated and informed one by knowing the value of other homes in your area as well as the value of yours before and after the renovation.

There is no point paying big dollars for something that won’t add any value.

Real estate values, like any other market, experience highs and lows. Not even the experts can say with full certainty when markets will peak.

If the real estate market is flat you may want to consider whether the timing is ideal for a costly renovation or if it’s more prudent to wait.

4. Get talking

Advice from an experienced renovator can be invaluable on a big project. Talk to others who have recently renovated to get an idea of what features are worth including and what ones aren’t.

A new kitchen with space saving corner cabinets might look good on paper but if you can’t access their contents easily then they won’t be used.

Also, avoid choosing the cheapest quote or the earliest available tradesman and listen to word-of-mouth recommendations from friends instead.

Tradies who turn up on time, work hard, take pride in their craft and quote accurately are worth their weight in gold.

5. Plan ahead

Get development applications in to council sooner rather than later as approval can take longer than expected, and plans may need to go back to the drawing board if they don’t get passed the first time.

Have a firm idea of what you want and try to stick to the original plan. Altering plans means added costs so try to keep changes to a minimum.

The earlier plans are finalised the sooner you can aim to book the architect or builder and arrange funds to cover the work.

6. Drive a bargain

Take the time to research renovation fittings by shopping around both in person and online.

You’ll be amazed how often the price can be slashed by offering cash. Retailers are often keen to unload end-of-line products or display models that are in great condition.

Don’t be embarrassed by trying to get a bargain. A retailer wants to make a sale so it’s worth haggling, especially if you’re putting in a large order, buying expensive items or you’re a regular customer.

7. Think long term

Always renovate with the next owner in mind, keeping updates universally appealing. Add versatile features that won’t need to be changed by the next owner and play it safe with neutral colours.

No one will be offended by a white ceiling and off-white walls but potential buyers might baulk at a red wall and purple ceilings because of the additional costs and effort to repaint.

To add colour, accessorise with cushions, paintings, curtains, rugs and furnishings that are easily changed or put away if you tire of them.

Whether it’s a carport or an enclosed garage, off-street parking adds value and lifestyle convenience. It’s also a feature in an inner city area that could be rented for either parking or storage to yield extra income.

8. Cut costs wisely

It’s not only illegal, but also a false economy to risk your home or your life trying to do dangerous jobs like electrical work to save a few dollars.

Even plumbing can have dire consequences if not done properly.

Instead, save money on tradie costs by figuring out which small, fiddly and time consuming jobs you can do yourself, such as dismantling kitchen cabinets or removing carpet.

These simple tasks don’t require a skilled tradesman but can save you hundreds of dollars.

9. Get gardening

If you’re renovating with the intention to sell, don’t overlook the garden.

A tidy garden with plants suitable for the climate, soil and area is far less work long term than a garden that needs constant watering and pruning.

If gardening isn’t your hobby, then create an easy-care yard with a slow-growing lawn and paved areas. Replace fiddly, back-breaking garden beds with shrubs and trees that fend for themselves.

Choose plants you can propagate to save costs and create a uniform look.

10. Take a walk

Looking around your local area will give you an idea of what homeowners like in a house. Renovating to suit the style, size and location of the property can boost its resale value.

In a coastal location, decks for outdoor entertaining are much sought after, while a fireplace is a must-have in colder areas. A level lawn for kicking the footy around suits a suburban backyard.

Be mindful of the type of home you have and use that to guide your renovation. A large family home would benefit from a big kitchen with plenty of bench space while smaller homes might only need a compact galley kitchen.

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