The process of renovating a house can be both incredibly rewarding and ridiculously stressful. Your home is likely your most valuable asset, and adding value through renovations is an exciting prospect. But not every home renovation project is a good investment, nor is it a good use of your disposable income. While some remodel projects are great ideas, others fall short.
So how do you know if renovating a house is worth it? There’s no one size fits all answer. Debating whether or not home renovations are a good idea is like asking yourself if real estate is a good investment right now; it depends on your situation. What matters most is if it’s done right. With so many variables to consider, proper preparation and planning make all the difference to homeowners considering renovating a house.
That’s why we want to offer you some insight to help prepare for what’s ahead. Here are our top five tips to consider when renovating a house.
1. First Things First, Figure Out Your Finances
The first thing you should be asking yourself before renovating a house is, “Do I have enough money for it?”. Whether you’re renovating an investment property you plan to resell, or finally upgrading your current home into your dream house, you might be itching to begin construction as soon as possible. We get it. But as exciting as the process may seem, you need to make sure your finances are in order and your priorities are aligned before diving into your wallet first.
This may sound obvious, but we recommend paying for your renovation using your savings. A home improvement project is an expensive undertaking and the last thing you want to do is stretch your finances to the limit to complete it. By saving up, you’ll have a firmer grasp on your budget, and have likely researched costs ahead of time to ensure things run smoothly. The goal is to be so prepared that when surprises pop up along the way, you’re not left scrambling. Under no circumstances should you rely on a credit card to rack up debt you don’t have the means to pay off.
However, if you don’t have money saved to cover costs, and you’re still set on renovating a house, you may find yourself considering a home equity loan. This is a loan that has a predetermined limit based on your available home equity. Under current regulation, a lender will let you borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. The advantage of using a home equity loan over a standard loan is that it’s backed by an asset that allows the lender to offer the loan at a lower interest rate, usually minus a percentage. You also only pay interest on the funds you use.
2. Don’t Underestimate Costs
When renovating a house, it’s important to be realistic about your budget and honest about the actual cost of renovation projects. Far too often, homeowners set low budgets for popular renovations, such as kitchens and bathrooms (which ultimately sell homes), and end up disappointed when the final product is $5000 more than what they had planned.
Whether you’re planning on renovating your kitchen, just your floors, or the entire house, consider the costs of both materials and labour. Tradesmen like electricians, plumbers and gas experts are pricey but necessary. Add in additional variables such as sinks, kitchen cabinets, new appliances and backsplash which range from low to high-end, and you’ve further altered the cost.
Even more difficult to anticipate are the costs of permits and planning permissions. These are critical because they indicate that the local council is aware of the proposed work to a property and has already agreed to it in principle, ahead of more detailed plans being submitted. Structural work or electrical installation will also need building regulations approval. Buying a property to renovate, only to later be denied planning consent, is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make. That’s why it’s important to do your research.
3. Be Transparent with Designers, Builders, and Architects
Part of the initial planning phase when renovating a house is considering what work you want to do yourself (if any) and what you’ll outsource to contractors and professionals. If you’re thinking of using an architect, builder, or designer to help plan your renovation, you should be contacting them and finalising concepts well before a hammer hits a nail.
Get multiple quotes from several different candidates and never settle before interviewing them and researching their credentials and reputation. Getting to know your architect and feeling comfortable with their capabilities, while having a list of all expenses and a clear communication plan is crucial so that there are no surprises (which is just a nice way of saying hidden costs). That being said, we do strongly suggest adding a 10-20% contingency fund to avoid blowing your budget as you never know what problems can surface, like newly plastered walls cracking, minor leaks, heating system issues, and – for all you know – lead pipes.
It’s important to be upfront with your contractors about your expectations and budget, but also pay attention to their advice. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the unrealistic time frames and drastically high budgets often showcased on home renovation shows are the norm. Nothing is ever a quick and cheap fix.
4. Seriously Consider Whether You are Over-Renovating
If you’ve ever considered renovating a house, you probably already have a clear vision of what it will look like once completed. Maybe you want to embrace an open-plan living area. Perhaps you want to add on an extra bedroom or bathroom so that everyone has their own space—and even install some solar panels on your roof in the process. Whatever dream project you have in your head, don’t make any decisions until you understand the full scope of what it will entail and how much money it will cost.
When homeowners get overly ambitious with their plans for renovations, they often end up doing things halfway and are disappointed when they find out how little return on investment they’ll actually receive. Renovating a house rarely, if ever, offers a $1 for $1 return. If you have a small budget, stick to what you can afford and try to find ways to make your renovation less expensive. Sometimes the simplest and least expensive updates can give the best returns; consider refreshing the space with some new white paint on the walls or replacing the front doors. It’ll update your space without breaking the bank account.
Ask yourself what the reasons are for renovating. Do you plan on selling it in the foreseeable future? Is it for you and your growing family to have more space? Or is it because your kids are always asking for a pool in the backyard? Understand what you actually want out of the remodelling and don’t stretch yourself thin for unnecessary updates. More often than not, renovating can actually cost more than rebuilding, so start small and work your way up from there.
5. Be Patient
It’s easy to see why many people rush into renovating a house without proper planning. After all, your house is a major investment and it makes sense to get the most bang for your buck by renovating your home before the value of the property drops. The problem with this line of thinking is that you risk putting yourself into debt if you are not patient enough. A hasty, under-budget renovation will show through the quality of work completed and could actually devalue your home.
So, take your time, save up, research different professionals who can help guide you through this process and be patient! Holding off on a project as big as this one until you’re financially ready can make all the difference between a good renovation and a bad one. Failing to do so could result in renovating a house that takes twice as long and costs four times as much.
Chross Homes & Developments Are Perth Renovation Experts
With a skilled team of builders, designers and contractors, Chross Homes & Developments is ready to make your renovation dream a reality. We have extensive experience in all facets of renovation projects, meaning we are experts in creating efficient and creative ways to use your current space.
As a family-owned and operated company, you can expect honest and personalised service every step of the way. Get in touch and we can organise a time to explain our process and start your renovation journey.