13 Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

Renovating your home can be quite a task! Whether your looking at renovating a kitchen, bathroom or the whole house, there are several things to be prepared for. Your renovation does not have to be another horror story – here are the top 13 things you need to know to ensure a smooth renovation:


1. Not setting a realistic budget

Set yourself a realistic budget – don’t underestimate the price of a renovation. Of course, the overall price is strongly dictated by your selection of fixtures and finishes so do make sure to seek advice here. If you are working with a Designer or Builder, they should be able to guide you in the right direction in terms of selecting items that fit into your budget. The best way to ensure an accurate quote for your renovation is to have a complete and detailed set of drawings and documentation where your design and all product/finish selections are clearly noted. This way, wherever you send your project for a quote, everyone is quoting the same project and not simply making allowances for certain items where your preference is not listed.

2. Overcapitalising on your property

It is important to keep your property’s value and location in mind, especially if you are planning on selling the home in the future. Look at local real estate trends, home valuation statistics, etc. to get a better understanding of what would be a realistic amount to spend on a renovation in your local area. A great starting point is of course, real estate websites; they do often include statistics of home values in your area. If you are renovating a home you plan to stay in for good, of course you can afford to spend a little extra where you feel necessary!

3. Not allowing a contingency amount

Always allow a contingency amount of about 10 – 20% of your total project value to cater for any unforeseen expenses. This relates to items that may need attention for the project to proceed safely but cannot be seen or confirmed until work has actually commenced on your home. For example, asbestos may be found during demolition, rot may be found once the floor has been removed, etc. Always ensure you have allowed an amount in your budget for items such as these; hopefully you won’t need to use it!

4. Not preparing a Design Brief

Create a clear design brief for your project that is thorough enough for anyone to be able to pick up and understand your vision. This is a crucial step that will ensure you get exactly what you want, without any grey areas!

Include any and all items that your Designer and Builder should keep in mind when designing the renovation: Crucial items to include are: What you need, what you want (two very different things!), where you plan to store which items, what you are willing to compromise on, what you like and what you dislike about your existing space, what needs improving, etc. If you’ve used images for inspiration, include these too, along with any fittings or finishes you  are considering.

5. Being indecisive!

It can be tricky choosing fittings and finishes, so spend some time during the planning stage investigating your options and settling on something you really love to avoid making changes later on in the project. Although there is some leeway for changes to be made, after the project reaches a certain point these amendments can be very costly and can even lead to lengthy delays.

6. Not using trusted Tradies & Builders

Whether you are hiring your own tradies and managing the job yourself or have hired a building professional/project manager, make sure to only use people that are insured, highly recommended, are willing to offer you references and that are open to answering any queries that you may have. Try to focus on Builders who are not all over the media: these guys unfortunately do often tend to only focus on the numbers! Instead, opt for a specialised builder who only takes on a certain amount of projects at time. This will ensure your project receives the attention it needs!

7. Lack of communication

As discussed earlier, do put together a design brief that is easy to communicate to the next person. Communication is key in ensuring a successful renovation: make sure everyone is on the same page at all stages of your project to avoid costly mistakes. Do ensure all decisions are made in writing and communicated effectively to all parties involved, avoiding any confusion down the track.

8. Not seeking applicable permits

Make sure to look into and obtain any relevant Council permits where applicable prior to starting any construction work. In Victoria, you usually do not need a permit if your renovation is strictly internal; if however, any part of your renovation does alter any external part of the home, do seek your Council’s advice on which permits you will need. This includes opening new doorways that lead outside, new windows, new external walls, etc.

9. To DIY or not?

If you can safely DIY certain items, do so! This will help reduce the labour costs involved in your renovation. Stick to things that you are confident with and always ensure to use a Registered Plumber & Electrician where necessary.

10. Not staying on top of Time Schedules

Ensure you stay on top of and are aware of the project’s time schedule. On that note, do make sure your Builder is willing to supply you with a time schedule from the beginning of the project. You should always ask how long they expect the job to take and when their earliest start date could be in order to achieve said timeframe.

11. Not meeting deadlines

Get any necessary decisions made on time to avoid delays and added costs where applicable. Keep in mind that certain items do have lead times – Always make sure to ask about any applicable lead times when making product and finishes selections as these can impact the duration of your project. The best thing to do is to have everything planned and ordered early on in the renovation, ensuring that everything is ordered early in advance, allowing for any lead times and readily available to be on site when needed.

12. Not performing a Walkthrough with your Designer & Builder

At the end of the project, always perform a walkthrough with your Designer and Builder: test out all new items, drawers, hot water, electricity, etc. to make sure they are all working as they should be and everything has been built according to plan. If something is amiss, take note of it and let your Builder know to arrange a solution for you.

13. Not having FUN!!

Renovating your home should be a fun, creative process! Sure it can be stressful at times but you should always keep in mind that it will all be worth it in the end, so enjoy yourself!

Do you have any renovation advice to pass on? Please share in the comments below!