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The seven deadly renovation sins

The seven deadly renovation sins

Spring has sprung, and with it the desire to breathe new life into your home. For many of us, it’s the ideal time to think about renovations. Cooking outside is easier in the summer months if you’re replacing a kitchen, while paint and finishes dry faster in the warmer weather.

Before you take a jackhammer to the wall, though, make sure you’re not about to commit one of these renovation sins.

1. Not tailoring your renovations to your lifestyle

If you work long hours and struggle to heat up a can of soup, you might not need a state of the art kitchen. Got small children or elderly parents living with you? Maybe the wrought iron spiral staircase should wait. On the other hand, if you live to entertain, then extending your outdoor area might be the best money you ever spend.

Being unrealistic about how you use your home can cause costly mistakes in renovation. It can be tempting to renovate according to the life you want to lead but take a look at the life you do lead instead. Where do you and your family spend the most time? Will that change in the next few years as you either add to your family or your grown children fly the coop?

Invest your time and money in the parts of your house that you spend the most time in and plan your renovations accordingly.

2. Over capitalising

Over capitalising is a classic renovation mistake. This occurs when you spend too much money on your renovations and can’t recoup it when you sell. If your home is in a cheap area or on a small or difficult block, even the swankiest interior is unlikely to recoup its cost.

If your planned renovations are big budget, talk to a real estate agent first. They’d be delighted to do a free appraisal on your property so you can get an idea of whether the renovations are worth it.

3. Not doing enough planning

It’s tempting to dive in and get going, but planning is key to a successful renovation. Have a budget in mind when you start. Get quotes and cost out the steps of the renovation including labour and materials. Many renovations do go over by a margin, so allow for that in the budget, but starting with a solid plan will help you rein it in.

Research fittings and fixtures before you start, to make sure your materials are available. Otherwise you may end up with a very mismatched effect.

4. Forgetting about council approval

Internal renovations, like an updated kitchen, don’t need council approval. If you’re adding to the external structure, however, you might need to add this step.

Council approvals vary between council areas, so always check with your local authority. As a general rule, it’s wise to check before adding a new deck, shed or balcony. A second level will almost certainly need approval, as will excavation work of any type.

Even if you don’t need approval, it’s good etiquette to warn the neighbours if your work is going to cause them any disruption.

5. Not using professionals

Some minor renovations can be done yourself, and even larger renovations have scope to help. Anything structural, or which requires electrical or plumbing work, should be left to the professionals. Every tradesperson has a horror story of the owner who dug up a sewage line or removed a crucial structural support. Budget for professionals and you’ll save money in the long term as well as buying yourself peace of mind.

6. Ignoring the realities of your property

No matter how carefully you plan your renovation, you’re stuck with certain realities. If your kitchen faces south, it isn’t going to get the same amount of natural light as a north-facing room. A small bathroom won’t lend itself to a grant claw foot tub no matter how much you want one. Some rooms may have low ceilings, or odd corners.

Trying to ignore these quirks will lead to disappointment. Instead, embrace your canvas and work with your home to create something really special.

7. Doing too much too fast

It can be tempting to rip the whole house apart and fix everything at once. Apart from the cost, though, it may be more than you need. Tackle the area that bothers you the most and see if you still want to do the rest. Sometimes, having your dream kitchen or additional entertaining area solves more problems than you think it will. For other spaces, a fresh coat of paint or new flooring may be all you need.

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