How to Assess Your Home Renovation Priorities

How to Assess Your Home Renovation Priorities

Buying a property that needs a bit – or a lot – of work is often the only way younger couples and families are able to secure a home in more attractive suburbs. Even in places like Sydney where the market has slumped a little, property prices are rising in desirable areas with first time buyers driving demand.

In order to secure your dream home, you may have found that you’ve taken on a larger venture than you would have liked and as a result you could be feeling a little overwhelmed at what you’ve potentially let yourself in for. If your property search has morphed into a renovation project, here is how you sort out your renovation priorities so you know where to get started.

Bring in experts

Ideally, you should have had some input from builders and architects before purchasing your property, so you’ll already have an idea of the scale of the task that lies ahead. If you’ve not called in the experts up until now, it’s critical to consult them before you get started. Even if you have some skills or plan to train and do some of the work yourself, you’ll need a firm idea of which jobs to do first and why.

As a general rule, your renovation priorities need to ensure that you stay safe, warm and dry and that your house stays upright! What does that mean in practical terms? Structural jobs such as roofing, foundations, plumbing and electricals need to be ticked off first! You’ll also want to address any infestation issues that could impact structure such as termites or dry rot. You don’t want to discover these late on in your renovation project and be forced to do things like rip up new expensive flooring that’s just been fitted in order to fix problems.

If you’re planning extensions or even a change of layout, be sure to consider how it may impact on a future sale first. Will your extension plans eat up most of the garden and potentially make the property less attractive to future buyers as a result? Will you be ditching a room that most people love? Layout changes can have a huge impact on things like electrics and plumbing, so they should be factored into your schedule of works in advance. Approaching things in the wrong order can mean more work and expense and could even lead to jobs being repeated. With a schedule of necessary works you can collect quotes from tradesmen and get a clearer idea of how long your renovation project is going to take.

Source equipment and insurance

If your electrics need attention you may find that you need to search for diesel fuel generators on sale to allow works to go ahead in the meantime. Similarly, with builders on site, it may be wise to hire an external Portaloo as well as planning out where your contractors can do things like park their vehicles and eat their lunch. Don’t forget to ensure all appropriate insurances are in place before things get started. And finally, think about how you’ll keep your home secure while works are carried out. You may find that you need to fit temporary locks to windows and doors even if your intention is to replace them during the course of your renovations.

Work to your budget

Blowing your renovation budget by not planning out priorities properly can mean neglecting essential works or putting undue stress on yourself due to increased debt. As above, make sure the structural essentials are clearly accounted for before you start to plan the nice-to-have things like new floor coverings, kitchen benches or factoring in the latest trend for outdoor kitchen areas. Be sure to factor in all expenses, not just materials and get quotes up front. It’s a good idea to add a contingency fund of around 20 per cent to allow for unexpected problems.

Think hard about being boss

Many homeowners choose to project manage renovation works themselves or to undertake some of the works. If you’d like to do this, be clear about the cost implications. It’s easy to forget that managing things yourself or learning new skills and implementing them is likely to take more time than bringing in experts. This could mean paying several more months mortgage and perhaps additional  rent in your current home before you’re able to move into the property and should therefore be accounted properly. If your funding is coming from staged mortgage payments from the bank, running to schedule and to cost will be even more important. Remember that cosmetic works can always be completed gradually as and when you have additional money. In the first instance, renovation work on a budget is all about creating a safe and liveable home you can make your own over time.


Are you the proud owner of a fixer upper? Maybe you’ve already done the fixing up and have lived to tell the tale? What were/are the biggest challenges of your renovation project?