Renovation Checklist: What to Think About Before You Start

Planning your dream renovation can be a fun and exciting time – but before spend hours picking out those hand-painted tiles and on-trend matt-black tapware, you need to put in the hard work and research to ensure a smooth ride while the renovation is underway. Here's what you need to consider.

Budget planning

Even the most seasoned builder or contractor can't know for sure every little thing that can go wrong in a renovation. Things like prolonged wet weather – or even flooding – can blow out costs, and then if you uncover costly problems such as termite damage, unstable foundations or the need to restump your home during the reno, you could be looking at a sizable chunk of change. Err on the side of caution and allocate an extra 10-20% on top of what you think you'll need to provide for emergencies. If you somehow come out unscathed, you'll have an extra few grand in the bank (or more) – just enough to pick up that sofa you've had your eye on! Click here for more handy tips on forward planning for your budget.

Don't pick the cheapest

Of anything! When it comes to everything from quotes to appliances, if you want the job to last longer than the warranty, pay for quality. Ask for at least three quotes when beginning a job (and ask for three references) – if one is substantially cheaper than the others, they've probably omitted something or aren't fit for the task. When choosing a builder or contractor, you should take availability, objectives and their experience into account, not just price. And we've all been burnt by a price that seemed too good to be true – when it comes to big-ticket items, sure, shop around and look for factory seconds, but don't choose a no-brand item and expect it to last the distance.

Spend on design to save on build – and bills!

If you're planning on big changes, an architect can approach a problem in a way that might never occur to you – perhaps you think it's easier to just knock down and start over, or maybe someone told you that you couldn't change the location of X without messing up Y? A professional can approach your home with a fresh perspective to find a solution that can save you money on both the build and future bills – think making the most of light and natural airflow to counter hot, sweaty summer days.

Consult with council

So you want to go up a level and completely makeover your home's facade? Sounds great! Maybe – check with your local regulations to ensure you aren't bound by heritage rules. This is also a good time to check for the location of water mains and electricity lines.

Value adding

Make sure your plans aren't overcapitalising on your home – check around the neighbourhood and chat to local real estate agents about approximate house prices and valuable additions. Sure, four bedrooms with personal ensuites sounds like a luxe choice for you, but for a buyer on a budget, they won't seem appealing. And if you're renovating to sell, now isn't the time to get creative – choose decor to appeal to the maximum amount of people.