If you’re feeling inspired by those amazing renovations on this year’s series of The Block and ready to channel your inner ’Blockhead’, you’ve come to the right place.
Despite the cost of living pressures of recent years, Australia’s love affair with home renovations is far from over. Data from the ABS reveals Australians spent $2.55 billion renovating our homes in the June 2023 quarter.1
But unlike those “blink and you’ll miss it” transformations on The Block, renovating your home requires a serious amount of attention to detail – especially in the planning stage. To give you a hand, we’ve put together this list of eight things you might want to consider before reaching for a single tool.
1. Know your why
Understanding your motivation for renovating your home could help you make the best decisions for your family and ensure your budget is clearly targeted. If you’re renovating to increase the value of your property, it may help to chat to a local real estate agent about what types of homes are popular with buyers in your area. If your “why” is accommodating a growing family, it’s a good idea to be realistic about how much space you might need in the future, and if you’re renovating an older property, it can help to have breathing space in your budget to take care of any structural problems that might pop up.
2. Set a budget before you begin
Time spent researching, planning and costing your reno will pay off and could help you avoid unexpected expenses later in the process. Consider labour, materials and permit costs, and obtain estimates from at least three renovation professionals.2 Including a contingency of 5% to 10% will help cover you for unanticipated costs while also giving you room for any last-minute aesthetic changes or upgrades.2
3. Consider your timeline
If you think you’re going to renovate your entire home in just 12 weeks like The Block contestants, you might want to think again. Supply chain issues that first came to light after the Covid-19 pandemic are still affecting the building industry – although experts say they are beginning to ease slightly.3 Ideally, start planning your project as far out as possible – at least 12 months is ideal, according to the team at Three Birds Renovations. “The bigger the project, the more time you’ll likely need,” advise the popular renovators, “but 12 months is a realistic time period to get to work creating your vision, budgeting and planning.”4
4. Decide if you’re going to DIY or hire a project manager or builder
According to online tradie marketplace hipages, DIY jobs frequently end up costing homeowners thousands of dollars and can even lower a home’s value.5 Unless you’re qualified, hiring a professional can be a smart idea – in fact, in some states and territories, it’s the law for renovations above a certain cost. For example, NSW Fair Trading requires all residential work over $5,000 to be done by a licensed builder, and for a contract to be in place.6 If you want to manage the project yourself, DIY specialist Natasha Dickins says you should be “organised, available and good-humoured” for a good outcome.7
5. Organise your development application
Depending on the size of your renovation, you may or may not need a development application (DA).8 It is important not to speculate on the approvals you’ll need – checking in with your local council prior to beginning any work may help you avoid legal issues down the track. If you do need to submit a DA, your council or state planning department should be able to provide guidance.
6. Think about your design style
Before you lift a single tool or hit any homeware stores and websites, it’s helpful to have a good idea of the end result you’re seeking. The design style you choose will likely have a bearing on the internal and external materials you choose, so it might be helpful to get clear about exactly what it is that you like (and don’t like).9 Creating a mood board is one way that experienced renovators visualise what their finished renovation might look like; the mood board can also provide a good reference when selecting fixtures and styling items.
7. Stay on top of your paperwork
Even if you’ve hired a project manager, it might be a good idea to develop a system for keeping track of costs and timelines before the renovation gets started. Keeping invoices, receipts, contracts and plans safe and organised, and making notes in your calendar about deadlines you need to meet could contribute to a smooth-running project.
8. Check your insurance
If your renovations are extensive, you might need to reassess the value of your home itself and the cost to rebuild, as this can, in turn, affect your home insurance premium and the amount you’ll be able to claim should something happen. Look for an online calculator , which could be helpful in assessing how much your home will cost to rebuild.10 “A home that costs more to rebuild will typically be more expensive to insure than one that could be built more cheaply,” says Mervyn Hartley, Youi’s Head of Product – Home.
Your insurance policy may also make it a requirement to tell your insurer about any building, construction and/or major renovations commencing, which is a good opportunity to ask any questions you have about how your cover is affected.
With all of your planning boxes ticked, you’re ready to get started – here’s to achieving Block-worthy results without the drama!
The information provided in this article is general in nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your particular financial needs, circumstances and objectives.
Article by guest writer Chelsea Spresser
1 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Building Activity, Australia, 25 October 2023
2 Source: Better Homes & Gardens – How to Create a Home Improvement Project Budget, 2023
3 Source: news.com.au – ‘Perfect storm’ decimating construction industry, 2023
4 Source: Three Birds Renovations – When is the right time to plan a renovation?, 2023
5 Source: hipages – DIY or Not? – Which jobs should be left to the experts?, 2019
6 Source: NSW Fair Trading – Building licences (general building work)
7 Source: Homes To Love – Project managing your renovation: 3 important things to know, 2019
8 Source: Homes to Love – Development approval process: 4 things to do before filing, 2019
9 Source: Homes To Love – 30 of the most popular interior design styles explained, 2023
10 Source: Cordell Sum Sure calculator – Estimate the cost to rebuild your house