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Home renovation rewind: Avoid 6 common pitfalls

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Many homeowners take a positive view about home renovation and believe that they can improve the look and value of their property by tackling some projects themselves or getting a contractor in to get the job done.

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Unfortunately, a number of these same homeowners who have already gone ahead with their renovation work, would like to rewind the clock and start again or do things differently, if they knew then what they know now.

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Try to be a savvy homeowner and avoid these common pitfalls, leaving you with an improved property and no problems to address.

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Paperwork

You may need to lodge a development application with your local council for the proposed work, depending on the type and scale of your intended project.

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If you are planning on making any significant or structural changes to your property, don’t take the risk of falling foul of the law. Failure to submit the necessary paperwork before you start your renovations could be a costly mistake.

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It is possible that even relatively minor repairs and renovations like painting the exterior of your home or replacing some or all of your roofing, may require a council permit. Your local council can give you the advice you need on any regulations and requirements that you need to adhere to, so always give them a call and check the situation before you attempt to do any work.

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Owner and builder

If you are one of the many homeowners who choose to take on the role of owner-builder, you should be aware that there are obligations that you still have to comply with.

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An owner-builder may choose to either do all the renovation work themselves or employ the assistance of sub-contractors to help them with the tasks that they do not have the skills for themselves.

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Owner-builders need to be aware that they are subject to their own unique set of legal obligations and rights, depending on the territory that you live in. If you are providing or using your own tools on site and either working by yourself or with others, you will need domestic building insurance and an owner-builder certificate of consent. Make sure your tools are to the right standards and will last a lifetime.

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You will need to be aware of occupational health and safety regulations and certain work like electrical and plumbing tasks, need to be carried out by licensed tradespeople.

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Accurate estimate of costs

One of the most common pitfalls for home renovation projects beyond the legislative and legal requirements is the failure to budget correctly for the work.

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You need to set out a detailed estimated cost of renovations and break down the costs to a detailed level, including things like how many power points you want to add and even how many door handles you need.

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Not taking the time to complete a detailed financial feasibility study and create an accurate budget is the downfall of many property owners, who end up running out of money and can sometimes be unable to actually complete the work.

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Choose your renovation project carefully

Spending too much money on your property improvements or doing work that fails to add value will result in no financial gain and may even end up putting you in a worse financial position than when you started.

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It is vital that a renovation project that is being carried out in order to improve the appearance and value of a property is capable of adding value when it is completed. Even relatively minor decisions, like putting in French doors rather than bi-fold doors which can be roughly twice as expensive, can make all the difference to the outcome of your renovation project.

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Think ahead

If you are planning to renovate to suit your personal taste and have no plans to sell the property for some while that would be fine, but if you are renovating to improve its value in a sale, you need to think of your target market.

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You should never renovate a property where your personal likes take priority over the general preferences of the type of person who is going to buy your property from you.

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Project management

You need to make the time to properly project manage your renovation or you could easily end up paying too much for materials and labor.

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A lack of time or preparation will often result in a renovator being unable to shop around and negotiate the best price for their goods and labor costs. Using something like Microsoft Project can really make the task of project management easier and help you to free up more time for the important art of negotiation.

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Some home renovators wish they could go back and start over again. Avoid that felling by trying to plan properly and avoid these common pitfalls.

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Photo Sources: 1. Andrew Roby General Contractors, 2. Ply Gem, 3. M.J. Whelan Construction, 4. ísARK Studio, 5. Carlton Architecture, 6. BHG, 7. Apartment Therapy, 8. BHG, 9. Homelife, 10. McGill Design Group, 11. The Mom Tog Diaries, 12. -13. BHG, 14. Coop 15 Architecture, 15. Geremia Design, 16. BHG, 17. Harry Braswell Inc., 18. JJ Locations, 19. The Lettered Cottage, 20. BHG, 21. Pinterest, 22. Apartment Therapy, 23. BHG, 24. Tommy Chambers Interiors, 25. An Urban Cottage, 26. Design Sponge, 27. CCI Renovations

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  • Gloria Larravide

    Budgeting too tightly can also become an issue with the quality of work you get from sub-contractors. Make sure you do not end up with the cheapest person your friends know and recommend because the person is so cheap to hire. These people might not have the scope of the project and your best interests at heart, even though they came ‘recommended’. Sometimes what is being recommended here is that they are willing to put their necks out for a cheap price, meaning you get a bad job and even a bad job cheap is too expensive. For example, when hiring someone to put an addition to your house, make sure they know what they are doing and at the very least have the skill to understand that the outside wall is not going to be an inside wall placed outside, as these two types of walls are very different and this could affect the warming /cooling of your house drastically especially if you live where it gets cold. You might end up with a terribly drafty house making you pay the price of that project yearly in heating bills. : ( This compromises the quality of the house overall. These patchy renos take what was once a solid house, well-constructed, and turn them into a heap of nothing, not worth staying in. Be careful with those recommendations from cheap friends. : Be willing to pay a bit more and invest in someone who knows what they are doing and actually are known for the type of work you want to hire them to do. It is tempting to save money where you can when making changes to your home, but do it in other ways, never in skill of laborer or insulation, things that determine the quality of your living in your house, even for those renos that are for flipping, by using someone who is well known or even respected in the community this adds value at resale it won’t take it away, ever. It will just become another selling point, and references for work done to your property/ house is important.

    I mention this because I see this ‘inside wall’ used as an ‘outside wall’ issue used all too often by builders who are not aware of climate demands of the region. Another instance of this issue occurred when a couple contracted a builder to create their modern 70’s looking house to find that the pipes were freezing each winter because they were on exterior walls vs. interior walls. Using interior walls for piping your plumbing can prevent freezing pipes in winter but if you do use exterior walls and you will have to in some places, make sure these areas are well insulated and that the walls are bonafide exterior walls, for your region, especially.

    If you have absolutely no plans to renovate but your neighborhood is undergoing a boom in renos and you are being affected in that now your yearly tax has spiked, you may want to turn your garage into a rental to offset this extra charge. Having an in-law suite or a renter in an outside unit is helpful, when community laws permit, and when couples age family members can reside in them to watch over them as they require more and more help. Outside units can even be rented to grandchildren so they are not being charged so much while in college. There are many uses for a suite, a simple living space outside of your existing home.