Top 5 renovation pitfalls

Excited about planning your home renovation? These are the top 5 pitfalls you need to avoid to achieve your goal.

People in a meeting looking at renovation plans
ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas

Planning a home renovation is exciting. Creating fresh floor plans, choosing colour schemes and picking out finishes, fixtures and fittings can be fun and with so much inspiration all around us, renovations are becoming increasingly ambitious.
It’s not always possible to avoid pitfalls completely, but planning for unforeseen circumstances can help minimise the impact if problems do arise and help ensure that your project doesn’t come to a grinding halt.
To help understand the kinds of challenges renovators are most likely to encounter, we asked the Refresh Renovations team about issues they’d faced on recent projects. 

Here is their top five: 

  • The project is bigger than planned This can happen when work begins and preparatory work shows there’s a problem, such as damp, wet or dry rot or structural defects, that wasn’t detected in advance. This is what happened when Nielen Prince of Refresh Renovations SA was brought in to give a client’s bathroom a facelift. When his team started work they discovered rotten Gyprock beneath the old tiles.  To make matters worse, the structural uprights didn’t comply with SA building regulations and the integrity of the bathroom wall was compromised. The ceiling also lacked proper support. The structural issues had to be addressed, but the work wasn’t within the original project scope and Nielen had to get the go ahead from his clients.  They were away on holiday at the time, so Nielen sent text messages and photographs to show them the problems that had been uncovered. They quickly approved the necessary work and budget increase.  The result was a bathroom that took a little longer and cost a bit more than planned, but the clients were delighted with their finished bathroom and had the peace of mind that the job had been completed to a high standard with all structural issues rectified.  Nielen Prince bathroom renovation ###### This is a bathroom renovation by Nielen Prince. View case study here.   
  • Budget blowouts There are two main reasons why renovation costs turn out to be higher than expected: Insufficient detail in the original brief/costings. The more detail you have in your renovation brief, the more accurately it can be costed. Choose suppliers, tradespeople and project managers who will give you a firm quote (rather than an estimate) for your project and avoid agreements based on uncapped hourly rates.  Unforeseen expenses.  Problems often come to light once a renovation is underway, so be mindful that additional costs may crop up. This is one of the reasons experienced renovators recommend having a contingency (of at least 15-20% of the total budget) just in case.
  • Communication challenges  Effective communication is vital if a renovation is to be completed on time and on budget. So make it a priority to work with people with whom you feel comfortable and communicate well. When getting quotes, make sure you understand exactly what is and is not included.  After meetings or important discussions, follow up by email to ensure your requirements are clear and that you understand the cost implications of any decision. This is important, even for apparently minor details such as the position of power points, since moving them at a later date could cause delays as well as additional cost.  Diana May kitchen renovation ###### This is a bathroom renovation by Diana May. View case study here.   
  • Poor planning  Effective planning ensures time and money are spent wisely, delivering maximum value for both. Plans should be in place well before a renovation’s start date and should help ensure that all procurement is completed in good time; the order of work is logical and efficient; and that clients and/or members of the household understand the scope of work before it begins.
  • Time pressures  Clients will often come to Refresh with a tight deadline for a project. Sometimes there is little or no flexibility, particularly if the renovation is being undertaken in time for a specific occasion or event, such as the birth of a new baby.  At other times, clients may be time poor and look to Refresh to deliver a quality job, quickly and with limited input from their side. Diana May of Refresh Renovations WA knows this situation well. Last year she renovated the kitchen of a client’s investment property on a tight deadline and with minimal client time for meetings and discussions. Diana met the challenge by providing her client with a shortlist of classic finishes suitable for her property and ensuring everything she suggested was in stock with suppliers.  ‘This meant that when [our client] chose her bench top, for example, it could be delivered and installed straight away,” says Diana.  Whether you’ve just made your move onto the property ladder or are renovating your dream home, the secrets of a successful renovation are clear says Refresh Renovations’ Nielen Prince: “Good communication, managing expectations, smart decision making and employing quality trades are all vital. Effective planning starts well before the project start date and is absolutely critical too.” #### If you’re planning your home renovation, you should read Does the weather affect your renovation plans? ### Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home renovation project If you would like to discuss home renovation options for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too. *All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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