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Renovation Guide: Top Tips for Navigating the Current Climate

The pandemic spurred a renovation blitz across the country. Here are the key things to consider if you’re looking to renovate right now.

Unsplash via Toa Heftiba
Unsplash via Toa Heftiba

Whether you’re transforming your family home or investing in a holiday rental, embarking on any renovation project can be daunting. Then, there’s the added layer of Australia’s COVID-induced renovation boom, supply chain disruptions and a trades shortfall. There’s a lot to consider. Aussies have spent more on remodelling over the past two years than ever before, and the splurge is slated to continue through the remainder of the year. So where to get started in 2022? Here are our top tips for creating your dream home.

Set a Realistic Budget

Step one of any renovation is to set out your goals and your budget. What do you want the renovation to look like and include? Once you have a rough idea you can create a ballpark budget. The more detail you include in your renovation brief the more accurately it can be costed. Keep in mind a contingency in your budget of at least 15-20 per cent, just in case. It’s worth getting quotes from a number of builders and trades before committing, with an expectation to pay roughly 10 per cent of your home’s value on a renovation. These should be provided to you in writing and outline the specifications of what is and isn’t included. Make sure to check the credentials of anyone you engage throughout the renovation process. Talk to your bank or financial advisor about how to best finance the upgrades.

Get Expert Advice

Depending on the scale of your renovation, you may want to hire a project manager or builder rather than do it on your own. Not only will builders and project managers keep things on track, but they will be able to engage licensed trades, knowing who will do a good job. Otherwise, be sure to ask for references and check their insurances. For larger projects, architects can help with the design and may save time and money in the long run. That being said, architects can be pricey – on average architect fees are roughly 10 per cent of your total budget.

Understand Council Approvals

It’s essential to check with your local council or a consultant town planner on the regulations and approvals needed before you get started. Generally speaking, most extensions and additions require a Development Application (DA), while smaller renovations – such as updating a kitchen or bathroom – may be exempt. Demand for new homes and major renovations skyrocketed during the pandemic, causing delays in the approvals process. Allow roughly three to six months for a Development Application, and even longer for more complicated builds.

Don’t Be Too Precious with Time Frames

On average, home renovations take between four to eight months. Over the past two years, the building boom has meant extra pressure on trades, which, coupled with continuing supply issues can severely push out timelines. Renovations that may have taken six months to complete can take up to 12 months to reach completion. Problems may also arise once a renovation is already underway, which may include anything from structural defects to dampness. Be realistic to avoid disappointment later on.

Access To Quality Materials

Talk to any builder and you’ll receive the same response: the cost of materials has steadily increased since the onset of the pandemic. This will no doubt have an impact on your overall budget, factoring in a surge in the price of timbers, steel and concrete. That being said, opting for high-quality materials will ensure your renovation not only looks great but also stands the test of time. Choosing more durable materials may cost more upfront, but won’t need to be replaced as quickly, thus saving more money in the long run. High quality materials also tend to be more sustainable than their cheaper counterparts.

Avoid Overcapitalising

Whether you’re renovating to rent, sell or live in the property, there are key strategies to maximise your investment. Find the line between making your home more attraction and over capitalising on your renovation. Start by having the property professionally valued and aim for renovations that make the most financial sense – new kitchens, bathrooms and additional storage are always favourites. More and more, people are choosing to make eco-friendly updates, renovations that can help reduce energy bills and make the home greener.