Questions to ask before you renovate

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While renovations often occur around a life-changing event, it doesn’t make it any easier to define exactly what you need.

Below are a list of questions to consider before you start on your renovation.

Renovate or extend?
Is your house old and tired or lacking in space or storage? Alternatively, are you choosing to renovate to make some extra cash, on-sell and explore the neighbourhood for a new project?
Whatever the reason is, it is important to take stock of what you have now, what you want out of the renovation or extension, and what you truly need out of it.

How you live?
The essence of this question is to gain an insight into what makes you tick. What is your daily routine? Do you love being outdoors? Do you love entertaining?’ or ‘Do you like intimate spaces? Do you cook and is the kitchen the hub of your home.

What are the ‘must haves’?
Think about the answer to this in a practical sense: ‘I want X amount of bathrooms’, for example, or ‘I need a separate toilet to the bathroom’. Also, think about the answer to this question in the idealogical sense – one of your priorities might be that the house has to be very easy to clean; having no tight corners or ledges that dust can collect on, like this pristine and easy-to-clean bathroom shown here.

What houses or spaces inspire you?
It is a great idea to create your own personal mood board or scrapbook full of all the houses, renovations, spaces, objects, art and furniture that you love.

What’s the budget?
It is important to have a clear understanding of how much money you are willing to spend on the extension. Also factor in costs for professional and authority fees, for example, architects, engineers, planning and building permits and ensure you include GST. You should allow around 5% for unforeseen costs that may arise during the design or construction stage of the project.

Does your budget cover your wish list?
Make sure your renovation matches your budget. There is often two ways to go from here. One, you do a master plan for the whole kit and caboodle and design it in a manner that the project can be staged over time, as the money becomes available. Alternatively, the project can be scaled back at the outset so the cost of the renovation can meet the budget. This can be a challenging discussion, but it is best to have it early, with your architect, so everyone is clear on the ground rules for engagement, project scope and the budget.

Will the final extension add value?
It is important to have an understanding of the ‘add value’ that your extension will add to your home. It is very easy to get excited about selecting expensive fixtures, finishes or appliances that may add no end value to your home. If you end up in a position where you need to sell your house, will you be able to recoup the cost of the renovation? Is the renovation an over-capitalisation of your site? Have a chat with your local real estate agent to get an idea of the market value your home might be with the new extension.

Do you have the space to renovate or extend?
Do you have the space to extend to the front, to the rear or to the side of your house? You may want to consider a second storey to preserve more outdoor space and garden around your house. Depending on where your site is located and the proximity of your neighbours, this can have an impact on where you can extend and the size of building that can be achieved on your site. There may also be additional planning restrictions to consider. It is worth calling the planning department of your local council to discuss your options and restrictions, too.

Make sure you don’t lose sight of the small things. It is often the little spaces that speak volumes about your extension and about how you live.

Make sure you find a great design professional who can help. Whether it is an architect or a building designer, it’s important that you choose a person you can work with and have confidence in. The better understanding they have of you and how you live your life, the better design they can create that will reflect your aspirations. They can take your hand and walk you through the design, planning and building processes and create your dream extension.

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