The long and wind­ing road

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It was John Len­non who sang “life is what hap­pens to you while you’re busy mak­ing other plans”. Ren­o­vat­ing and build­ing can feel a bit like that, too.

Once you fi­nally de­cide to go ahead and do the work — and get your fi­nances sorted out — you can gen­er­ally ex­pect that a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion or com­pletely new build will take about two years from start to fin­ish. Two years. And that’s if things go smoothly. That takes into ac­count set­tling on a de­sign and get­ting plans drawn up, tak­ing them to coun­cil, deal­ing with any changes re­quired and sourc­ing a builder.

De­pend­ing on who you go with, you might need to wait be­fore you get started — the good ones are al­ways booked up — and then the build process re­ally kicks off.

One of the few ben­e­fits of liv­ing through the drought is that it can mean that your build will not be de­layed by rain. Be­cause when we’re in a nor­mal weather pat­tern, you can al­most guar­an­tee that as soon as you take the roof off your old house, you’ll be hit by one of those tor­ren­tial storms that Syd­ney does so well.

You can see why peo­ple get so frus­trated and stressed.

Some as­pects have been made a lit­tle eas­ier in re­cent years with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Com­ply­ing De­vel­op­ment leg­is­la­tion which has cut the ap­proval process back to less than two weeks, al­though it doesn’t al­ways help your re­la­tions with the neigh­bours who can feel left out of the loop.

The thing is, a well ex­e­cuted build­ing project can trans­form the way you live. Done right, it is ab­so­lutely worth the drama — and the hit to the mort­gage.

Which is why so many brave souls throw them­selves into the build­ing abyss. As an ar­chi­tect once told me, the only thing most peo­ple re­gret is not do­ing it sooner.

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