Monthly Archives: December 2017

Blow your renovation budget

Renovation costs always blow out no matter how much you try to keep them under control. It’s usually because we want more than they we can afford. Our experts have heaps of experience in renovations and would like to share some golden rules with you. We feel these will help you keep your projects on or under budget.

DIY as much as you can. Do the painting and get a flat pack kitchen. However Tiling is also not that difficult and there are heaps of DIY books out there – just hire a professional to do the waterproofing if you are unsure of that part. Read our article DIY Renovation Tips for more information.
Go through the tendering process with 3 plumbers or builders – if they are too high for your liking wait 6 months and try the process again or keep getting quotes until someone comes in at the price you are happy with. I am always amazed at tender differences if you are prepared to be patient.
Never buy any PC items like bathtubs, taps or basins at regular price. Wait for a sale, or go to builders and other applicable auctions. Your local newspaper will have a building supplies section selling anything from pre-loved windows to new baths and granite pavers.
Confirm your plans and budget and stick to it. This may sound simple but it is where most people ruin their budget.
Ask yourself ‘Is it a need or a want?’. Yes you need a tap but you don’t need a tap that is $400 dollars. A lot of small savings add up to thousands of dollars very quickly.
Stage your construction into financially manageable amounts and be strong, renovations can be frustrating to live in but would you rather be frustrated or have the pressure of a bigger mortgage?
Keep a log book of invoices and receipts so you have a mental record of costs. Once you see how much things cost you are less likely to splurge on that new heated towel rail.
By following these simple rules you will save a great deal of money and will also be mentally satisfied with your renovation.

Whether you are renovating your home for more space

If you plan to live in a property for 10 years or more, it is difficult to imagine that you could overcapitalise when renovating, as the value of your property will have risen due to rising land values and demand in the market. However, it is still worth considering the effect that your renovations will have on the value of the property. There is no point wasting precious dollars on improvements that don’t increase your eventual sale price. And worse, some improvements can be detrimental to the value of your property.

For instance, if you live in an area that is popular with families, outdoor living space will be seen as a major benefit when people are comparing homes for sale. But if your renovation extends so far into your outdoor space that there is no room for children to play, you are limiting the eventual market for your property and adversely affecting its resale value.

Another factor you should consider when deciding on your renovation plans is the number of bedrooms you will be left with. Sometimes it is tempting to combine a living area with a bedroom so that the living area is more spacious. But if this means losing a bedroom, the value of your property may be adversely affected.

Before you finalise your renovation plans and your budget, do some careful research in your suburb to see whether your investment will be recouped. For instance, if you plan to do a $200,000 renovation and your property is currently worth $400,000, are there other similarly sized properties in your area that are worth $600,000? Or is there a ceiling price of $500,000? No matter how amazing your property looks when it is finished, it will still be compared with similar sized properties in your area. If you can scale back your plans to spend $100,000 rather than $200,000, you are less likely to be overcapitalising. Every suburb has a ceiling price, whether it is $350,000 or $2.5 million, and you should take this into account when investing in a renovation.

Below are some improvements that are winners when it comes to adding value to a property:

Bathroom (ensuite or an extra bathroom upstairs or downstairs)
New kitchen (with more bench space, new appliances and neutral designs)
Open-plan living area with doors opening onto an outdoor entertaining area
Built in storage in bedrooms, laundries and even living rooms
Larger windows or glass doors that bring light into small houses
Extra bedroom (in a loft space or a second story)
Off street and undercover parking which wasn’t available previously
Ducted air conditioning throughout the house

Making the best use of the existing building

Deciding whether to renovate an older building, or knock it down and rebuild, can be difficult. The decision to favour renovation hangs heavily upon determining whether the existing building has sufficient merit. Caroline Pidcock and Jeremy Spencer explain their different methodologies for determining whether or not to renovate, and how to make best use of the existing building.

What must we look for in the existing building?
When starting a new project with great aspirations, why would you think about keeping the building that already exists on the site? Especially if it does not work exactly with your new design concept.

Reasons for keeping the old
Apart from the financial benefits or heritage requirements, perhaps you might be drawn to the idea of making use of existing materials and all that has gone into their manufacture and construction, particularly their embodied energy. Or perhaps you might like to retain and celebrate the cultural and social history that is an essential part of their story. Or enjoy the design challenges that retention imposes on the project, something a blank canvas does not offer.

History has shown that building structure will always outlive function and this means there will always be a constant supply of existing buildings ready for reuse. Therefore, there are many good reasons to spend some time examining whether working with existing buildings is a worthwhile pursuit before deciding otherwise.

When first approaching a new project with an existing building, issues to consider include:

Orientation of the building and creative options for working positively with this to improve the solar access and protection from the elements
Quality of the building fabric and construction and if this is sound enough to be suitable for the future
Thermal performance of the building envelope and if this should and can be improved to give better control over energy movement
Social or cultural relevance of the design, construction and /or development, and if this can be respected and extended

Solve problem for the wheater

Over the last 10 years, Australian local governments have implemented systems like BASIX (in NSW) to encourage homeowners to design and build new homes that are energy efficient as well as thermally comfortable to live in. But what about new homes that seem to slip through the cracks on compliance, or the vast majority of Australian homes that are not new? How can these homes be altered to enhance their energy efficiency, thermal comfort and overall functionality? Well, its actually not that difficult, you just need to follow some important tips.

1. Install insulation
If you can only afford to spend a minimal amount on improving the energy efficiency of your home, spend it firstly on insulation. A house loses heat initially through the ceiling, then the walls and lastly the floor. So always insulate your ceilings first for the most noticeable increase in internal warmth and energy savings.

2. Reduce open plan spaces where possible
Reduce open plan spaces to limit warm or cool air escaping into areas that are not frequently used or outside. This includes:

Fixing drafty doors and windows with new seals
Disconnecting living spaces from sleeping spaces (so you are only heating what you need to)
3. Ventilation solutions for hot, damp and cold spaces
If you have rooms that are either oriented to the west or south, or always seem to be hot, musty, damp or cold, there are many things you can do to fix these problems.

Improve natural flow-through ventilation to remove hot air. Work out where the summer breezes on your site are coming from. Are there windows on this side of your house? Positioning window openings correctly will help cool your house in summer, but be careful not to create an entry for the harsh western sun that will overheat the space.
Mechanically ventilate mouldy and stuffy spaces to create healthy and fresh rooms
If you can’t naturally remove hot air from your new home or renovated home, try mechanical ventilation. There is a product called a Solar Air Module (SAM) that is a natural, solar powered, air-moving system. It ventilates thermally uncomfortable spaces, saving on heating and cooling bills, while ensuring a healthy indoor climate. The SAM costs nothing to run and if your home has been planned correctly you can use the system in place of a standard air-conditioner for the entire house.