Here are 10 stay-sane-while-renovating tips to help you survive and thrive during your renovation.
1. Start to plan before you spend a cent
As soon as the first seed of an idea to renovate sprouts, start planning.
It’s never too early to plan. Even if renovating is something you would like to do in the future, use this time to your advantage. The best results are achieved by putting plenty of time and thought into a project.
2. Educate yourself
Do plenty of research before starting any kind of remodelling. The best way to approach a renovation is to research and plan every room to be remodelled. Attempting one room as you go without having a plan for the overall project could lead to problems down the track and your project may end up with a lack of continuity in design once the job is completed.
Find out what things you can do yourself and, most importantly, what you aren’t allowed to do yourself. You can research online, as there are great blogs and forums where other renovators discuss their issues and insights. Take plenty of notes and create a book to record every aspect of your job to reference as you go.
3. Audition your tradies
Never call a trade or supplier without doing the first two steps. You need to give them as much information as possible so that they have an understanding of the scope of work involved. And always compare “apples with apples”; this is critical if you want to get an accurate quote.
Audition at least three tradies for specific tasks; this will give you a good idea of what is a fair price. Don’t choose someone based on price alone; you need to have good rapport, especially if they are going to be hanging around for a while. If you have a good relationship from the start, you will establish a comfortable partnership and avoid any power struggles and trust issues along the way.
4. Make a plan
Let’s face it; renovating is probably the biggest undertaking of your life. It’s a monumental job to create and orchestrate a renovation. Even the professionals don’t “wing it”, as they know too well that leaving anything to chance is a great way to burn a lot of time and money.
Being prepared with detailed descriptions of the entire scope of works will not only help you get your head around the look, function and cost but will also aid in every other aspect of the project. Some examples are timeframes for tradies, materials, bank draw downs and when it’s safe for your mother-in-law to come visit. You can’t plan everything or expect it to run to the letter, but the more time and research you put into it, the better.
5. Don’t make unrealistic deadlines
Whatever you plan to do, chances are it’s never been done exactly that way before. Renovations are all unique creations that are a culmination of many people and raw materials. It’s like a one-off stage production especially for you; the difference is that there are no rehearsals, just one chance to get that kitchen or wall colour right. So by all means, put in benchmarks to shoot for, but don’t fall apart when things don’t run to a military-like schedule.
Things to never forget: timeframes and punctuality are not a strong point for tradies (unless you want to sleep in one day, which is when they will always show up). Never put Christmas as a deadline, especially if you know it might be a stretch to get it all done before.
6. Move out if possible
This one I got to experience firsthand. I have had to live in a construction zone and sometimes not had to; I much prefer the latter. I strongly recommend moving out if you can, especially if it’s a major renovation. Besides the fact that the mess and chaos can leave the most laid back person twitching in a straight jacket, it’s the constant invasion of privacy that is difficult.
If you choose to stay in the home, you will have to accept the fact that tradies will become part of the family and you will have to learn to embrace the mess for a while.
7. Flip your frown upside down
This is a tip on reverse psychology. There will be times when things are not going the way you want or you get a bee in your bonnet about a bill you weren’t expecting. Instead of going in guns blazing and letting your emotions get the better of you, stop for a moment to calm down and collect your thoughts so you can confront the issue from a rational point of view.
There are many influencing factors that can change the game plan when renovating, so speak to the trade or supplier in an inquiring way as opposed to an attacking/accusing type of approach. You will more than likely find the answers you are looking for and, if it is a mistake on their part, you will have a far greater chance of getting it resolved without drama (plus, it’s not good karma to yell and scream at people).
8. If something doesn’t look right, say so straight away
There have been many times when I’ve seen something done that wasn’t what I wanted but let it go and not said anything. Big mistake! I’ve learnt to say something straight away to avoid major changes and costs down the track.
This can be a huge problem and it usually happens on the day that you don’t make it out on to the job site. You can’t expect to be there 24/7, but keeping an eye on what’s going on regularly makes a huge difference in the end. Speak up and risk being annoying now instead of being a super pain in the rear later on.
9. Changes will cost you money
As I said, speak up early if you see something that doesn’t look right. You should also be aware that there is a good chance you will end up paying for any changes you make along the way. As stated in tip number five, your ideas have probably never been carried out exactly the same before, so there is a good chance the trade can’t read your mind and know exactly what you have pictured.
The best way to deal with this is to have guides for the tradies in the form of detailed plans and photos; whatever you can think of to make your ideas as clear as possible.
Once you and the tradies have clarity, try not to change your mind every five minutes. Changes will affect the price like you wouldn’t believe, unless you have an amazing relationship with your tradies and you don’t get extra bills because of them. Also, make sure you let me know who they are so we can use them too!
10. Give yourself a break
The most important tip to stay in control while renovating is to make room for the project and not force it into your already jam packed life. Renovating can be extremely exhausting, especially when you have to do lots of the running around, picking up materials, making selections, doing back breaking tasks like painting etc. When things become stressful and overwhelming, make adjustments fast so you can give yourself the best chance of a successful renovation. Besides your kids and partner, put your renovation as one of the highest priorities. Doing this will allow you to make decisions from a place of clarity and certainty, which will ultimately save you time and money… and pricey therapy sessions!
Create the best conditions for the best possible result. If that means putting other things on pause for a little while, then do it. Having a realistic and positive attitude goes a long way, even when it becomes challenging. Picture yourself as a river that will flow around all obstacles to get to your goal; it’s well worth the effort in the end.
For more information, visit thebuildingplanners.com
By Sarah Woods, The Building Planners.
From Renovate magazine Vol. 9 No. 1