As soon as you get the keys to your dream do-up it’s easy to go straight in, swinging a sledge hammer to knock down the walls and open everything up. But regardless of a strong desire to do just that, sitting down and making a detailed plan is the way we start every renovation.
We have learned (at times, the hard way) that if there isn’t a plan in place at the start of the renovation, the renovation’s budget and timeline will suffer throughout the project.
So with this in mind, here are six key thoughts on how to plan your reno from the outset.
1. Begin with the end in mind
Visualise the project you want to end up with. Start with a Houzz ideabook and collate all the images that inspire you. Ideabooks are more than just a wish list; they make it possible for you to see what your result could look like. Find examples of ideas you have or trends you would like to follow: consider how others have achieved what you want. What do you like about their designs? What would you do differently? Creativity encourages creativity; so if you’re inspired, your design will be inspiring.
2. Set your goals and milestones along the way
Set targets you want to achieve throughout your project. A project can take a long time and if you are only motivated by the end result, it can get hard to stay enthusiastic.
Smaller goals allow you to celebrate milestones, to see the progress you’re achieving, to stay motivated, and allow you to see if you’re on track.
3. Be realistic
What you see on reality TV renovation shows is not what you should expect in everyday life. It’s easy and so common to underestimate the time involved in renovating. So when you create a schedule for your renovation, consider all aspects of time: the spare time you have, the fatigue of renovating, allowing for rest, and how slow you can be when you are doing something for the first time.
There are also a lot of hidden costs that can surprise – so don’t be naive. When a contractor asks if you would like additional elements or upgrades on products, always ask the question: how much will that cost and how much longer will it take?
4. Establish your priorities
By prioritising what’s important for you at planning stage, you can make your decisions based on the priorities you have already established. It can help to write a prioritised wish list knowing that there will always be compromise in order to stick to budget or program.
5. Know your limits
You don’t know what you don’t know. While trial and error will get you there in the end (and yes DIY does stand for do-it-yourself), getting advice will get you there quicker and cheaper. That doesn’t mean paying someone to do everything, but rather simple suggestions such as talking to someone who has just gone through a renovation, searching through Houzz stories, and asking around.
Talk about everything with an outsider or expert, from running your cost estimates past them to see if you are being realistic or if you’re allocating your budget well, or asking if you need to get your electrician and plumber in before you gib that wall. If you aren’t confident, ask around and get others’ input on costs and the overall process.
6. Identify and manage risk areas
Take some time to identify the risky areas that will affect your goals. Think through how you can minimise the impact of these, or better yet get rid of the risk altogether.
For example, with one of our renovations, I had an estimate down to replace 200 square metres of driveway. We had never replaced a driveway before therefore there was an element of risk in that estimate, and having the wrong allowance could really deplete my contingency money. So to manage that risk I called around to contractors to get a realistic price for my budget, and then got quotes to know for certain what it would cost.