Making renovations to your home can be an exciting time, but it’s important to know what to expect at each stage of the project. Here are some of the most common renovation pitfalls and how you can avoid them.

1. Poor preparation

A successful renovation starts with a good plan. Make sure you get specific contracts drafted up for every contractor and tradesperson involved, outlining the price, scope and timing of the project. Get the contracts checked by your solicitor and make sure every agreement is in writing.

Don’t buy any materials until all the planning is finalised and make sure you’re completely happy with the plans before starting, as it could be more expensive to change them later on.

2. Underestimating the costs

Instead of starting your budget with how much you have to spend, start with your goals – for example, one bedroom with three power points and four downlights – then get detailed quotes from at least three contractors to help you compare. Never guess what the costs will be.

Don’t forget to factor in additional costs such as council application fees, levies, permits and increased insurance. It may be tricky to live in your home while it’s being renovated, so also consider the costs of renting somewhere else during this time.

3. Ignoring regulations

Make sure you understand all the local council requirements for your area, including permits, regulations and requirements. Your contractor should help you manage this. If your extensions aren’t fully compliant, you may have to pay a large fine and find it difficult to sell the property later on.

It’s also illegal – not to mention dangerous – to attempt your own plumbing and wiring. Get a qualified expert to complete these jobs safely.

4. Ignoring market trends

Consider the style of other houses on the street and think about whether being the best house in the street (or an eyesore) could affect the property’s resale value.

Also consider future owners and what they may be looking for, such as outdoor entertaining areas or a swimming pool. When deciding which rooms to renovate, stick with those that typically increase the value of the property, such as kitchens, bathrooms and/or additional bedrooms.

5. Spending too much on too little

Fittings and fixtures like tiles, taps and door handles can be a lovely touch, but if you spend too much on these it may leave you out of pocket and future owners may not be willing to pay a higher property price for them.

6. Renovating an unsafe building

If your home isn’t structurally sound, renovations can cause cracks and other problems that may be expensive to fix and reduce the value of your home. Get qualified experts to complete a building and pest inspection before you start, to see if your home is suitable for renovating.

7. Cutting corners

Make sure you complete your renovations with the best quality labour, tools and materials you can afford. Cutting corners can mean increased maintenance and repairs in the future, so it’s best to do it right the first time. Hire qualified and licenced contractors who are members of industry associations and talk to past clients to see if they would use them again.

8. Not knowing your limits

Know exactly where your money is going and stick to your limit during the project. If it’s a smaller project that you’re doing yourself, keep your receipts so you can stay on track. A good guide to help avoid overcapitalising is not to spend more than five percent of the purchase price on renovations.

For larger projects, make sure you know how you’ll finance your renovation before you begin spending. Consider planning for an extra 30% in costs just in case and keep in regular touch with your contractors to make sure they stay on budget.

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Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before acting on this, consider the appropriateness to your circumstances.