Firm Foundations: A Guide To Renovating Your Home

A couple renovating their home is working on a fireplace.

Want to renovate your home but don’t know where to start? Lucky you, because you’ve stumbled on the perfect article. Whether you’re looking to refresh a tired home or make significant changes to your home’s internal and external structure, home renovations can be a complicated process to say the least. With so many factors to look into, finances to get in order and builders to consider, the home renovation process can be slightly overwhelming even for the best of us. Thankfully, we’re here to simplify the process for you.

In today’s guide to renovating your home, we explore the 8 steps you’ll need to take when building your dream home. Read on to find out more!

Enter The Planning Stage

You know what they say, a goal without a plan is just a wish. The planning stages of your home renovation are a crucial element that will allow you to define what your final results will look like and, more importantly, how you want to feel in your newly renovated space. This is the perfect time to make some critical decisions regarding the ideal materials, floorings and finishes you would like to incorporate into your new home. Some of the factors that will influence the planning stages of your renovation include your personal needs, lifestyle, family and future plans for the property.  For example, if you have pets or children, you may want to consider using plywood in both your interiors and exteriors due to its durability, strength and aesthetic value.

Getting your plans in order and deciding on the non-negotiables of your home renovation not only helps you stay super clear about what your end game is, but will also assist you in allocating your budget which we will talk about in the next pointer!

Set Your Budget

In an ideal world, a renovation budget would be limitless (and we would all own a money tree). However, to keep things realistic and most importantly, within your means, it is important to dedicate some time to setting your home renovation budget. A budget is a priceless tool that will give you control of your project and help you achieve your financial target.

We always advise getting in touch with your bank to find out about loans that you are eligible for, prior to making major decisions about your renovation project. Afterall, there is no point in planning for a $200,000 renovation if the bank will only lend you half that amount. Creating a ballpark figure before requesting an estimate from a builder and having clarity around exactly what you can or cannot afford is key to preventing unexpected costs or delays down the line.

Not sure where to start? There are a variety of free budget calculators available online to help you get a cost estimate for your dream renovation.

Get Council Approval

We cannot stress enough the importance of getting council approval prior to embarking on your renovation project. No matter how big or small the project, it is vital that you check with your council to clarify the local regulations before you start renovations. Generally speaking, internal renovations rarely require council approval, but if you are planning to add an extension to your home (structural changes, adding a new deck, building a granny flat etc), you will definitely need to get in touch with your local council for advice and approval.

Do take note that approvals may in some cases take up to 6 months or more, so getting this sorted sooner rather than later is the best way to avoid any costly or inconvenient delays to your renovation project.

Chat With A Builder

Now that you’ve made your plans, set your budget and received approval from your local council, it is time to start looking for a builder. A general rule is to get a minimum of 3 quotes for the same plan as you may be surprised at how much they vary depending on the builder of choice. Do note that overspends are very common in building projects, so you will want to add a further 10-20% to your final budget as contingency.

Many builders also handle project management, so be sure to enquire if this service is included in your quote or if you are expected to do it yourself/hire a separate project manager.

Tip: Remember to check the credentials of anyone you hire through your local building authority. It can also be helpful to check out online reviews to get a glimpse into other peoples’ experiences with your chosen builder.

Handle Your Finances

Assuming you have chosen a builder and have a rough idea of exactly how much your project is going to cost, it is now time to start handling the finance aspect of your renovations. When looking for a good deal on a construction loan (also known as a building loan), it is vital to consider interest rates and to shop around. This is because building loans are a relatively long term debt and even the smallest difference can add up over time.

Depending on the type of loan you apply for, you may be required to present a builder’s contract and an ‘as if complete’ valuation as proof of what you will be using the money for. Organising this in advance will allow for a smoother, faster approval process.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Now it’s time to really start having fun with your renovation project. With all the nitty gritty aspects of your build done and dusted, this is the time where you will start to see your project come to life. Even if you’ve hired a separate project manager, you will still need to keep track of costs and timelines. Keep all your contracts, invoices, receipts and plans organised, take note of deadlines and always maintain open communication with your builder to ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Remember to not be disheartened if you encounter delays or roadblocks on your renovation journey. Numerous factors such as weather, labour challenges and material shortages may contribute to delays and are often to be expected. If you are unsure about a delay, always get in touch with your builder. It is also a good habit to thoroughly read through your building contract to find out more about extensions and/or claimable delays.

Handover & Final Certification

The handover and final certification stage of home renovation is often the most exciting. At this stage, your new home is ready for inspection and you will be able to do a full walk-through in order to identify any potential issues in the build. Ensuring that everything is up to your standard is key, and there are many resources and checklists available to assist you in doing your final checks. You may also want to consider hiring a professional building inspector who will know what to look for and will see through any cosmetic improvements that cover up faults.

Don’t forget to collect official certificates from your builder, plumber, electrician and other tradespeople as confirmation that works have been done in accordance with Australian standards. Assuming all is well, you are now free to move into your freshly renovated home. Exciting times!

Style To Your Heart’s Content

Last but not least, it’s time to style your home to your heart’s content. Now that the renovations are complete, you are free to channel your inner creativity and style through your home furnishings and decor. There is truly nothing better than decorating a brand new space and your final touches are what will take a space from good to great; from house to home.

And there you have it – the ultimate step-by-step guide that will help you keep on top of your home renovation project. By keeping organised and following these helpful pointers, you’ll be well on your way to living in your brand new home sooner rather than later.

Are you someone who is planning a home renovation in the near future? Have a few more questions about the renovation process? Be sure to leave your questions in the comment section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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