In Re-decorating, renovations, Uncategorized

There is no secret in the Australian passion for DIY projects around the house. It starts with an idea that sounds good at the beginning and often ends in an argument about who’s style is best. Or worse still, ends up in a complete wreck and you need to call the professionals in to rectify your project.  Sound familiar?

Whether you are renovating for profit or aiming to transform your existing home, renovating any home is a monumental task that requires careful planning to avoid any blunders.

Let me give you some advice before you get started and keep your relationship intact. Here’s a few tips:

  1. Plan your budget
    Once you can agree on a budget, use a spreadsheet to keep track of every item. Most renovation projects blow out by as much as 80% of the original budget. Most renovators just keep spending, chasing the dream, without the budget dictating their choices. Most projects will have some cost increases so the budget for at least 20% more than anticipated.
  2. Plan ahead
    When doing a larger project, you may need to order materials to complete your project thus delays will occur if you haven’t forecasted what is needed and when. This is even more relevant if you are wanting custom made items, delays of a few months may even be possible.
  3. Keep it real
    Whilst you may have some champagne tastes, keep an eye on your beer budget. Some items may be nice to have but in reality, you can’t afford them and therefore they may have to be considered as an add-on at a later date.
  4. Live in the house first
    If possible, spend some time in the house before you start with a renovation project. Learn how the house traffic flows, where you enter, where the shopping lands, where the TV is best placed, where the rain comes from etc. etc. When you understand how you live in the house, you can better understand where the improvements can come from and get it right the first time.
  5. Not hiring a colour consultant or designer
    You are about to spend more than you ever thought possible so it might as well be for a correctly-designed thing. Interior designers, architects and colour consultants typically either charge by the hour or take a percentage of the overall job – a small sum compared to your total payout. A draftsperson or building designer can draw up your plans, but make sure the drawings comply with building and planning regulations. It may spare your relationship and surprise you with ideas and concepts you never dream of affording. Be cautious about selecting the cheapest quote on professional services. Ask for testimonials and references or examples of their works. Talk to their clients first. Call me for a no-obligation, complimentary chat.
  6. Ask a lot of questions
    You need to totally understand every step in the project, every tradesperson, every material you are using and every inch of the design. When you ask a lot of questions, you will set yourself up for not being ‘taken for a ride’ with the wrong decisions.
  7. Write it down
    If you’re managing the project yourself, write a diary of what’s happened onsite each day. This helps ensure the renovation is on track and also gives you specific dates to refer to if problems arise with tradespeople or deliveries.  colour pallete
  8. Test your colours first
    Don’t waste money on painting the entire wall first to only realise that was not the right colour for the room. Buy sample pots and test on a small swab first. Move the swab around the room to see how it is placed next to other furnishings. That is where the eye of a colour consultant can really come into play and put the harmony into the colour choices.
  9. Don’t skimp on what matters
    Like door hardware, doors, faucets, appliances, kitchen cabinets that you use numerous times a day – you will be glad you chose quality over funky/trendy items of inferior quality. The tactile experience sends a daily reminder to you and your guests about the solidity and quality of your home.
  10. Focus on one room at a time
    If you start tackling every room in the house at once, you will only end up in a muddle, confused and disillusioned at the whole project. Unless you are moving out and getting a contractor to do the entire project, it is highly recommended that you only focus on one room at a time, complete that, and then move onto the next room.
  11. Maximizing the opportunity
    Whilst you are in the renovation mode, take the opportunity to increase the thermal mass within your home (Remove carpet or other insulative coverings on slabs and replace with tiles or polished concrete finishes to expose thermal mass), cut the running costs (by installing solar power and changing to LED lighting), increase the efficiency, invest in renewable energy generation, add insulation, Install flow restrictors on taps that deliver too much water (e.g. hand basins, sinks), install a rainwater tank and consider reusing greywater instead of tap water for the garden.


Renovating your own home can still be a rewarding experience in creative expression but inexperience often leads to unforeseen social, environmental, emotional and financial costs.

Whilst the popularity of home renovation TV shows make it look a breeze, the lifecycle outcomes from these renovations are often poor.  Remember, it’s TV so it has to look good for the camera for the moment. Critical long-term details such as thermal performance and energy efficiency are commonly overlooked to achieve a quick turnover that conceals these problems; and passes them onto the new owner.

If you are choosing to go down the DIY path, then evaluate your skills and strengths then use a professional tradesperson at the critical stages. Maybe consider using a licensed builder to get your renovations or additions to a safe, lock-up stage so the building is waterproof and able to be left locked up in the shortest amount of time.

If you are confused as to where to start, then let’s book in a consultation and steer you in the right direction. I’d be happy to be part of your renovation support team.

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