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Avoiding renovating pitfalls

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

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 at a later stage.

Instead of starting your budget with how much you have to spend, start with your goals—for example, one bedroom with three powerpoints 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 difficult to live in your home while it’s being renovated, so consider the costs of renting somewhere else during this time.

You may want to let your creativity rule your decisions, but it could backfire if you decide to sell. 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. If you’re deciding which rooms to renovate, stick with those that will increase the value of the property, such as kitchens, bathrooms or additional bedrooms.

Also make sure the renovations will add value and support your current lifestyle—there’s no point adding delicate glass features if you live in a house full of kids and pets.

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.

Labour is one of the biggest costs of renovating, so make sure you get a number of quotes so you know what is reasonable.

Make sure your extensions comply with all rules and regulations. If you don’t and you’re caught, you may have to pay a large fine and find it difficult to sell the property later on.

It’s also illegal to attempt your own plumbing and wiring, as well as being very dangerous. Get a qualified expert to complete the job safely, for peace of mind.

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.

Don’t ignore issues that arise during the renovation, even if they seem small. Fixing them now will be cheaper and easier than doing it down the track.

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.

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. To make sure you don’t overcapitalise (when you spend more on a house than what you can sell it for) it’s a good idea not to spend more than 5% of the purchase price on renovations.

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

Make sure you understand all the local council requirements for your area, including permits, regulations and requirements. Your contractor should help you manage this, but staying across the details will make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

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Talk to a Home Lending Specialist to find out how refinancing can help you renovate your home.

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