Vague Plans:

The planning stage of a renovation is the most important. Go over your floor plans to ensure you are satisfied with each measurement and detail. Don’t wait until mid-way through the project to tell your builder you wanted that wall 10cm to the left.  Create a document with all the specs and a picture of each fixture and fitting you will use. Make sure you advise your builder in writing of any changes you want to make to the original job. Call suppliers to find out if there are long lead times on some of your preferred materials and consider choosing an alternative if this is the case. Keep in mind that if you have to move out during the renovation, buy you may need to talk to your home and contents insurance provider about your policy.

Not Enough Quotes Or Referrals:

Tradies can make or break a renovation so spend time finding good ones.  Get referrals from friends or your local Facebook community or post an ad on Try to get three different companies to provide a quote on the same work and if you can, give each a written plan on the scope of the job including expectations on timing and delivery. Choose a tradie that you have a good rapport with and one that comes across as professional by turning up on time and providing you with a written quote. If a tradie can’t get those basic details right, it’s not a good sign.

A Dud Budget:

The biggest mistake people can make is not creating a detailed budget which lists the cost of all items, including engineers and council fees. To keep the labour costs under control, create a document on the scope of the job for each tradie and have them agree to the cost for that work. This allows you to refer back to it when the inevitable debate arises about whether something should have been captured in the original quote. Insist on all variations being communicated in advance in writing and make sure changes can only proceed with your written agreement. This will help you stick to your budget. Avoid getting your tradies offside by ensuring you pay on time, every time. Unexpected things will crop up so you should always add at least 5% in the budget to cover these costs. Don’t forget to include tasks such as landscaping, which can be costly.


Once you’ve employed a good builder and good tradies, don’t back away or stop asking questions. You need to take ultimate responsibility for how the reno turns out so make sure you are constantly communicating with your tradies. Hold onsite meetings and take minutes. Call your builder every few days to see how the job is progressing and if everything is on track. Continue to remind your tradies what you’re expecting them to do by a certain date. Make sure you communicate in a kind and respectful manner. Dropping by with a few coffees also won’t go unnoticed.

Overlooking The Little Details:

The little details will end up costing you time and money if they’re overlooked. The floor preparation of your wet spaces is a good example. Get your builder, plumber and tiler into the space together to discuss how the floor is going to be prepared to account for the type of tiles you’ve chosen, the type of floor wastes you want, where to locate them, where things like the shower or toilet are going, the height of the vanity, benchtop and taps. If your painter is going to do window trims, make sure you’ve included in the scope of work the need to scrape off any overpainting on the glass. If you don’t, you’ll end up having to do it yourself. Include a requirement for all tradies to clean up after themselves in the scope of work, as this basic task can be overlooked.



Follow: Subscribe to this post's comments