8 Things to know Before Renovating
1. Before you have even thought about taking a step into the world of renovating, there are multiple things that you need to think about, discuss, and consider before signing a contract.
HAVING A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF EACH OTHER’S WANTS AND NEEDS IS IMPORTANT.
If you’re doing this with your partner, it is very important that you ask yourselves some of these questions and write them down on paper, so that you both have a clear understanding of what each of you want. Believe it or not, it is quite common for partners to turn up to discuss construction and have very different perspectives on what each other want.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR PARTNER AND THE BUILDER ARE THE FOLLOWING THINGS:
THE MUST HAVES
These are the things that you must have in your renovation and are the non-negotiables – the reason why your doing this. e.g. a deck, kitchen, or bathroom.
The needs are things that are somewhat negotiable and are what you actually need for the room /area to function as, e.g. you require the deck for entertaining or the bathroom to be upgraded, so that you can have better functioning storage and use of the space.
THE WANTS/DREAM LIST
These are things that you would really love to have but are unsure whether you can afford to fit them in the budget. However, if money was not a problem you would absolutely love to have it. e.g. you would really love that outdoor kitchen on the deck or have a bathroom that feels like you are in a resort.
These 3 steps are called the brainstorm stage where all the ideas get out of your head and put onto paper.
Some people feel it is not necessary to write this information down, especially the items that seem like they are going to exceed their budget. What if the builder you were using could somehow work out a way to get something out of your dream list and factor this into YOUR renovation? Wouldn’t that be great? Even if it was just one thing you would really love from your dream list.
Being open and transparent with your builder gives you a much better chance of getting exactly what you want. Wouldn’t it be great to have a builder that actually understands you? The only way to do this is by communicating with the builder and having open and honest conversations.
WHEN IT COMES TO A RENOVATION BUDGET THERE ARE GENERALLY TWO BUDGETS. WHY TWO YOU ASK?
A lot of people watch renovation shows like “The Block.” which can be very misleading with regards to the actual cost of a renovation. Suppliers give their products at a minimal cost to ensure their brand is advertised on TV, therefore the true costs and labour times are not entirely accurate.
It is important that both you and your partner have a clear understanding of what you would like to spend on this particular project; this is the MOST important step before even talking to a builder or a designer, because you don’t want to end up with a set of plans that you cannot afford to build. You could also be charged with additional fees for changing plans and re-designing at a later date to meet your actual budget.
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY BUDGET?
Without a doubt the principal deciding factor for homeowners is their budget and what they hope to achieve with it. When it comes to getting the most amount of value you can from your budget, Homeowner’s expectations often surpass what is achievable, so it is essential to do plenty of research to consider all options.
One of the most common responses is,
“I don’t know what this type of renovation is going to cost us, so we are trying to determine that right now to know our budget ”
This is understandable as no two projects are alike. What if you were to think differently about how you looked at determining your budget?
TYPE OF BUDGET
TYPE OF BUDGET
WHAT YOU WOULD ONLY LIKE
THE END OF THE ROAD BUDGET –
The second budget is the “we cannot get any more money from the bank or we have to sell the car to complete this renovation budget” (which you don’t want to do).
When this question is asked, it makes more sense for people to understand, instead of asking how much this renovation is going to cost, you are asking yourself how much can I afford or how much am I willing to spend on this particular project. By doing this, this will help you and the builder figure out what is the best value for money you can get with the funds you have.
The reason the builder needs to know these two budgets is to understand the wiggle room in between the 2 budgets, because what if they could, somehow, include some parts of your dream list items within your renovation, or even provide you with things you could add to in the future. At least the builder can put these additional items or extras on the table, prior to commencing any work or at least give you the option to take it or leave it.
When it comes to timeline, it is important these issues are addressed at the very start; prior to any building works or signing any contracts. You need to know if the builder is going to be able to start by a certain time and have it completed by a certain date, or if he is just going to “squeeze” you in somewhere and not give your job the priority it should have.
BEFORE YOU START: YOU AND THE BUILDER WILL NEED TO DISCUSS THESE THINGS:
- Is there a certain date you would like to have this renovation completed?
- If there is a certain date your set on, is it possible to organise and complete this on time?
Poor preparation and short timelines, are good ways for your renovation to lead to a disaster. A lot of people don’t realise how much planning goes into a renovation. Many things need to be considered, selected, trades organised, specialty orders, council applications/approvals, drafting of plans and designs, engineering, soil tests, and so much more. Things like this just cannot simply be sorted out within a months notice.
IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR THE DESIGNING AND DRAFTING PROCESS ALONE TO TAKE 3 MONTHS TO COMPLETE.
The more prepared your builder is and the more organised your builder is, the smoother things are going to go and the better experience you are going to have throughout a renovation.
Be aware of the builders that say they can start within the next couple weeks. Poor preparation, not waiting for council approvals, and cutting corners to start projects, soon can lead to an avalanche of problems. You are better off being patient and ensuring all your ducks are in a row before signing of any contracts.
4. Voicing your problems, fears, and concerns
The thought of going through a renovation can be quite daunting. You have a lot of unanswered questions, you don’t really know what you want, but you know your home needs a change and better layout to suit your lifestyle.
Spending a small fortune of money, will have you concerned and worried about taking that step of trying to find the right builder for you. If you have spoken to anyone about the building industry for more than 5 minutes you would have heard some of the bad stories. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid all the problems such as these?
BELOW ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU AND YOUR BUILDER SHOULD HAVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF:
- What concerns/fears/worries do you have about doing your renovation?
- What current problems/issues are you having that are making you want to do this renovation?
- What is the main drive of you wanting to do this renovation?
- What are your priorities?
- Do you need help with ideas and suggestions?
These are just some of the many important questions your builder should be asking you before you have even thought about designing. If your builder doesn’t understand, or know what your fears, concerns, wants, or desires are, then how can they fully understand you and the sole purpose of you wanting to renovate.
If you feel that your builder has full understanding of these things you’re going to gain a lot of trust between you and the builder. You are going to start a good relationship with the builder through the communication that has already taken place, prior to starting any building work. Remember clear communication is the best way to a really enjoyable experience throughout any renovation. By creating a good relationship with the builder, he is going to want to go the extra mile for you.
5. How to get the most out of your builder
Getting the best value for money is something everyone is after; how do you get this out of a builder you hire?
When doing any renovation from small to large it’s important that you realise from the start that this project will be a TEAM effort, it is made up of YOU AND THE BUILDER. And that we, as a team, are working towards the same goal. You are after the home and lifestyle you desire, and the builder is after your satisfaction of enjoying what they have built and the best possible experience during the process.
An example of a poor relationship is if you walk into a shop to buy a vehicle to suit your offroad camping lifestyle, and wanted some information about a car to suit your needs. The salesman didn’t make any effort to understand what the car would need to carry or do in relation to your needs, and instead tried to convince you to purchase a BMW convertible sports car without any boot space, would you still want to talk to him?
Definitely not! This can often happen when there is poor communication between builders and clients, and the builder does not really have a clear understanding of their client.
A GOOD RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED BEFORE A PRICE IS DISCUSSED OR A CONTRACT IS SIGNED.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT:
THE COMMUNICATION FROM START TO FINISH IS SECOND TO NONE, IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION TO ASK, ASK IT! IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF SOMETHING, ASK IT!
A builder should understand things, from your point of view. Don’t feel bad about asking something because you feel uneasy about it or feel like it’s a “stupid question.”
By asking questions and raising any concerns, this will create a solid understanding of your needs between both parties.
Generally what happens in the building industry is that a small frustration leads to a massive explosion at the end of construction, because there has been a small amount of frustration along the way, which has built up over the period of the renovation. This is also due to poor communication between both parties throughout the renovation.
REMEMBER the builder needs to connect his skills, knowledge and experience with your dreams and desires, and this without a doubt comes through Communication.
6. Planning and designing
When it comes to planning and designing there are multiple things that need to be considered. All these questions you have just read through should be factored into your design.
Things like your budget, current problems within your house, the things you absolutely hate and frustrate you, what your desired outcome is and the reason you are wanting to do the renovation.
Engaging a builder while you are going through the designing process, is best way to ensure that you stay on track with your budget and the plans you are using.
COMMON PLANNING AND DESIGNING MISTAKES:
- Ending up with a set of plans that out way their budget.
- Bad design can lead to an expensive renovation.
- Under/over estimating the sizes, while interpreting plans.
- Not engaging a builder from the designing stage.
- Poor planning and designing can lead to additional costs during a renovation and confusion.
- Plans not getting built due to costing more then originally thought
These are just some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to planning and designing. This is by far the most important part of your renovation, leaving the builder out of the most important part can lead to a number of problems. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you are going to be able to get the outcome you want and achieve it with a smooth sailing process.
7. Future Requirements
Sometimes your budget doesn’t afford the luxury of including everything you want first up. Your builder should encourage you to think of everything you may want or plan to have in the future, so when you are ready to include the next part of your grand scheme it viable and easy to do and does not look like an add on or a mistake.
It is better to run services and allowance for future inclusions so you don’t get ugly pipe or conduits up walls or concrete cut out and replaced.
GOOD EXAMPLES OF THINGS TO PLAN FOR ARE:
- Home automation – Tv points, data points, speaker wires, power
- Sheds – sewer, stormwater, water, electricity
- Home theatre rooms – sewer, stormwater, power, water, gas
- Sprinkler system – water, electricity, conduits
Your building process should never be rushed or minimised as there are many things to consider and you don’t want to have a renovation with regrets or the “I wish we had thought of that”.
8. Quoting and proposals
THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST REASONS THE BUILDING INDUSTRY GETS SUCH A BAD WRAP.
Getting 3 builders out to quote a job and trying to compare figures on paper with what has actually been priced. I am sure you have heard some of the horror stories within the building industry.
Generally they are to do with all the additional costs and variations that are made throughout a renovation as well as their renovation originally costing a lot more than the figure they first received on paper.
SO WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
It all comes down to poor planning and preparation, prior to starting any work. Generally the builder thinks they understand and know what their client wants, but it really is only a small snippet of what’s running through their mind.
There are so many questions people want to ask. but never seem to get the answer to all of them because their builder doesn’t have an opportunity to address their concerns, fears, wants, and desires or they don’t get a chance to voice their concerns.
WHY IS THERE SO MUCH DIFFERENCE IN PRICE BETWEEN THE 3 BUILDERS?
No 3 builders can do it cheaper than another.
All quality materials cost the same amount and all quality labour costs the same, the only way one builder can do it cheaper than the other, is if they use inferior materials or they use cheaper and less skilled labour.
The only other way a builder can make their quote look more attractive is too leave things out or set there provisional sum/prime cost items at a very low price, and then when it is too late to realise what hasn’t been included, there are extras and variations which end up leading to additional costs.
Your experience throughout the whole renovation then becomes a very unenjoyable experience, and not to mention, leads to a lot of dramas and frustration with your builder.
THERE ARE SO MANY COMMON MISTAKES AND HIDDEN COSTS WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING A PRICE TO COMPLETE YOUR PROJECT. HERE ARE JUST A SMALL LIST OF THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- STANDARD INCLUSION:
Generally these are a standard allowance the builder has set up to make them look cheaper than other builders. Be aware each builder’s standard inclusions vary. Do you understand what the builder’s standard inclusion is, and do they explain this to you in detail?
- PC OR PRIME COST ITEMS:
A prime Cost refers to an item such as a fixture or fitting that either has not been selected, or whose price is not known at the time the contract is entered into. Most common items used for (PC) are tapware and door furniture etc. Beware of some builders setting low dollar values for PC items or “standard” items only. The builder MUST allow enough to supply the specified item. These can easily lead to additional costs later on down the line.
- PS OR PROVISIONAL SUM:
A provisional sum refers to the “estimate” of the cost of carrying out particular work such as earthworks. The builder is unable to give a definite amount for these types of costs at the time the contract is entered into, until the work has been completed. The most commonly used Provisional Sum under a contract would be Earthworks. This is the amount of work required to dig footings or piers and can sometimes be unpredictable. A dollar value is then written down as a provisional sum, and is only charged at the required materials and labour to complete the job. Be careful of builders setting low provisional sums to look cheaper on an initial quote. Cheaper amounts generally end up costing you a lot more in the long run, due to unrealistic allowances.
There is plenty of fine print written in contracts and it is quite important that you understand what you are signing for, instead of “just” signing it. If you and the builder are going to be working together for a decent period of time, it would be worth while to have your builder sit down and go through the contract with you, so you have a clear understanding of what you are signing.