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Be clear on what you want and why

  • Know why you want to renovate. What problems are you trying to solve? Most renovations begin with practical issues. For instance, your bathroom may be cramped, you need more storage space in the kitchen, or there is nowhere for the children to play or do homework under your supervision.
  • Evaluate the structure, systems and general condition of your house. In consultation with your builder, list the repairs and replacements likely to be required over the next two, five and 10 years. If necessary, be prepared to make trade-offs between lifestyle improvements and work needed to keep your home in good shape.
  • Work with the strengths of your home and save money. Check under existing carpeting and sheet flooring for old hardwood flooring that can be re-sanded and polished. Refinish old trim and mouldings rather than replace them. Resurface cabinets rather than installing new ones. Turn a large landing into a child’s play area, a quiet reading area or a small home office or study.
  • Keep it simple. A complex design can result in complicated and expensive construction. Whether you want to extend your home, change roof lines or carry out internal alterations, consult with an HIA builder on the impact of the design on construction and budget. Less complex designs will often let you achieve the same goals.
  • Don’t just focus on the upfront cost. Renovation is a further investment in your home. Consider the time, energy and cost required on ongoing maintenance and possible replacement down the road. A well-planned renovation can reduce these future costs.
  • Don’t cut corners to save a few dollars, or you may not get the results you want. There may be ways to stretch a limited budget or you may be able to scale down your project or, alternatively, do it in phases over time. But don’t compromise on quality – it’s always better to do less and do it well.
  • Check building regulations. Before you get too involved in a particular design for adding to or substantially altering your home, you will need to consider any regulations that may place restraints on what you can do – for instance, boundary setbacks and building heights, fire safety provisions and relevant local council planning provisions.
  • Look at your neighbourhood. Exterior changes or additions that blend with the existing streetscape will probably add the most value to your home and will fit in with your house and neighbourhood’s character. They will also be appreciated by your neighbours and this may assist if permission to build is required by a neighbour. If you do want a design with a difference, think about ways of complementing neighbouring homes.
  • Don’t worry about trends. Design trends come and go. First and foremost, plan for comfort, ease of living and personal satisfaction. Enjoy exploring options and possibilities and then design the renovation that is uniquely right for you and your family.

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