20 Aug The Importance of Setting a Budget and Planning Before Renovating
So, you’ve decided you finally want to add that fourth bedroom extension out the back. Where do you start – what do you do from here?
Has your finance been approved, or have you saved up for the expected costs that you have estimated? All too commonly the actual costs of what you want to achieve are far greater than you expect. Importantly, both you and your bank will be very interested in the value this extension will add to your home.
Our recommendation is to start by working out what you would like to achieve – bearing in mind the budget – comparing items that are hopeful against those that are essential. Secondly, select a good designer or architect who can work through your wish list with your budget in mind and come up with that dream bedroom extension that meets building codes and guidelines. A good architect will understand good design versus cost and provide you with a working set of plans that simplifies this for your builder to quote and in turn, for you to see what the extension will look like. The more detail contained within the drawings, the more accurate the quote will be. Our advice would be to make sure that all your wish list items are covered within the drawings as making changes during the construction stage can be expensive and add significant time to the construction.
Once you have chosen your builder(s) for quoting, your next step is to consult your local building authority. In Queensland, this is conducted by the QBCC who maintain a licence search facility on their website. A good builder’s licence number will be available through the QBCC and a quick check on the web will identify any past issues, outstanding matters, confirmation that they hold the correct licencing and provide some comfort as to their bona fides.
Whilst it is a great place to start, do not just rely on word of mouth and make sure to ask for references and photos of past relevant or similar works. Most builders should be able to provide a portfolio of previous works that should provide some insight into the type and quality of projects they have done in the past.
You’ve chosen your builder, plans have been approved, you are happy with the quote and you have the money burning a hole in your pocket – now what?
Visit those drawings again! Make sure that the quote covers the works that you have requested and relates back to the drawings you provided for the initial works. It is always a good idea to have at least 10-15% of the quote value up your sleeve for unforeseen items or changes that may be required on-the-go. Particularly when doing renovations, it can be very difficult for a builder to foresee a rotted beam that may be covered by plasterboard, that bit of termite damage in the wall or the electrical wiring that isn’t where it should be. You don’t want your whole project to come to a grinding halt because you don’t have the funds to fix this newly discovered problem.
Secondly, another common question that we receive from residents is “can I live in the house whilst my extension is being completed?” This can be a very testing time with the mess and noise being two major stress points throughout the build. Always consider whether it essential for you to live there during the build – and if so, be prepared for the inconvenience that these works may cause. It can also be very beneficial to be on site during construction to ensure that everything is proceeding as planned and the builder has an on-site reference point if required.
Don’t forget that everything you want may not be covered in the builder’s quote – those new curtains in the bedroom, the fancy light switches or that imported tapware from Italy. Make sure that they are included in the builders quote before you start unless you have earmarked the funds to cover these items. Just remember – the greater the clarity you have over your contract, the less likelihood of any major issues throughout the build.
Remember that a renovation should be an enjoyable experience that has been well designed, well planned and well funded.
By Mark Gurdler