Inside Out (Australia)

THE RENO RULES We set out the 10 commandmen­ts to live by to ensure a successful home renovation

Organisati­on is key to a successful makeover, and who doesn’t fifind life easier with a few guidelines in place? Here, our Panel shares their advice to ensure your project goes to plan


1 set your budget (and then some)

A renovation budget shouldn’t simply be the funds you can lay your hands on. You need to work out how much you’ll need to spend in as much detail as possible. “Then add at least 10-15 per cent as a contingenc­y,” says builder Wayd Munro. “You will almost certainly need more than you think.” Make sure your architect and builder are fully aware of your budget. As work starts, you need to keep track of variations and any additional costs. “People often approve variations early on in a project thinking they have lots of money, only to realise towards the end, that they’ve spent more than they budgeted for,” says Wayd.

don’t rush the design

No matter what size your project, it’s easy to feel pressured into making quick decisions on something that is going to be difffficul­t (and costly) to change further down the track. “The constructi­on industry is notoriousl­y pushy,” says architect Andrew Benn. “But it’s critical to take the time to design. Too often people rush these early stages hoping to save a bit of time, only to then have to live with a bad decision every day.”

3 choose the right team

We’ve all heard the horror stories about inflated quotes, shonky work and no shows, but the majority of Aussie tradies are highly trained and work to a high standard. And it’s worth the legwork to find them. “Word of mouth is your best bet,” says Wayd. “If a builder comes recommende­d, you can pretty much guarantee they are among the best in their trade.” Make sure you check the currency of all licenses and insurances. Once you have the right team in place, use them! Don’t overestima­te your DIY skills; most jobs on a reno are best left to the pros.

4 remember the aesthetics

You want to have a practical space but there’s more to a home than just functional­ity. “Too often it’s only the practical solution that is promoted. And this often comes at the expense of beauty,” says Andrew. “But these two things are not mutually exclusive outcomes, and good design will incorporat­e both. Beauty is what makes you love your home and it’s what will make someone else fall in love with it if and when it comes time to sell.”

5 decide on the details

‘The devil is in the details’ is a good saying to remember on a reno project. “Although it’s essential to have a grand plan, good building design is mostly about getting the details right,” says Andrew. “Choose your finishes early,” advises Wayd. “The most efffficien­t projects are the ones where the colours, tiles, paint and appliances have all been picked out before the project starts.”

6 spend time on the flfloorpla­n

If you’re adding an extension or remodellin­g an entire floor, getting the floorplan right is key. “You need to make sure each space flows, with good circulatio­n and function,” says interior decorator and stylist Lisa Koehler. “Consider how you currently use the space and how you would like to use it to suit your daily needs. Write yourself a brief for each room – this will help you make decisions and will form the foundation for the design.”

7 communicat­e clearly

They say the customer is always right but on a build, more often that not it’s the homeowner who – unwittingl­y – causes the problems. “Vague verbal requests mean the builder has to second guess what you want,” says Wayd. “Unsurprisi­ngly, they sometimes get this wrong and that’s the major cause of frustratio­n to the client. Having proper plans to work from and documentin­g any changes that are made along the way will make everyone more accountabl­e.”

8 create a moodboard

“Place all your favourite finishes and details you love on a board to give you inspiratio­n for the final colour palette and the general look and feel,” says Lisa. “Don’t limit yourself to interior images – it’s important to create a concept that’s individual so add any images that represent the things you love.” When it comes to choosing the finishes, Lisa’s advice is to start at the bottom. “Base all your colour decisions from the colour or tone of the floor. Everything should link back to that.”

9 c don’t go on holiday

Moved out for a reno? People often think it’s a great time to take a trip. But that’s rarely the case. “Many mistakes can be avoided simply by being on hand,” says Wayd. “If there are problems, such as the wrong tiles or appliances being delivered, they need to be solved with minimum cost and stress.” Even if you have a project manager, there are still times you are going to be needed on site. “But don’t be tempted to sneak onto the site after hours and on the weekend,” says Wayd. “This is not only dangerous, it also leads to unnecessar­y questions on a Monday about things that are still a work in progress.”

10 expect the unexpected

Some things won’t come as a surprise – noise, dust and more dust are part and parcel of a reno. But there will always be things you haven’t factored in, especially if you are renovating an older home. Unforeseea­ble problems with plumbing, asbestos, mould and dodgy work by previous owners are all things that will eat into your timeframe and your budget. And when that happens, just think how pleased you’ll be that you followed rule no. 1.

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