Design and planning
This is arguably the most important step of all. Most renovation and building jobs that run over time or budget do so because of a lack of planning, changes to the design half-way through the build, or by failing to identify the extent of work required to achieve your dreams.
So a little bit of time and money spent up-front to define your objectives can go a long way towards saving you lots of time, stress and unnecessary expense in the long run. Understand exactly why you’re thinking about building or renovating and what you hope to achieve and plan ahead – what you need now may not be what you need in a few years time.
Remember that it can be very difficult and expensive to make late changes to things like insulation, heating, cooling and building materials, so it’s important to make wise choices early on, that factor in the ongoing costs of running and maintaining your home.
Get the right advice
Don’t forget that a dodgy build or renovation can easily strip thousands off the value of your home. So it’s vital that you do your homework and consult the right experts before you get started.
Architects, engineers and builders can all help to get the job done properly and on budget, but be sure that any experts you speak to have the necessary licences, insurance and a history of satisfied customers. Ideally, they should also have experience in the type of build or renovation you’re planning.
Don’t be afraid to ask for contact details of previous clients and make a point of actually speaking with them. Ask lots of questions, however many it takes to make you feel comfortable.
Seek planning permissions before you start
Unless you’re undertaking a very small renovation project, you’ll almost certainly need to comply with building laws. So make contact with your local council’s planning office very early in the design stage to understand what’s possible and what approvals you’ll need.
Know your DIY limits
Don’t get carried away by ‘reality TV’ shows that make it look easy to build a mansion, knock down walls and transform existing houses in a weekend. If you don’t have the skills to do the work, employ professionals and make sure you budget for the cost of labour.
But again, do your due diligence before employing someone to work on your house. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is and you generally get what you pay for when it comes to builders and skilled trades.
Plan for the unexpected
When the design’s locked away, you’ll need to make a detailed estimate of the build cost and one of the most common mistakes at this stage is not allowing a contingency for unexpected costs. So don’t fall into this trap.
An accepted rule of thumb is to set the contingency at 10-20% of the build cost, depending on the complexity of the build.
This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.