Home renovations are rife with potential pitfalls, leading over a quarter to go over budget and a fifth take longer than expected. However, TV personality, Deborah Hutton managed a complete update of her now coastal Hamptons forever home one month ahead of schedule and on a realistic budget.
Here the first time renovator discusses how she went from a Reno Rookie to Construction Queen. “Renovating my two storey home on Sydney’s Eastern Beaches was a passion project that consumed my life for 18 months. I can’t say it was always easy, but it was definitely worth it and there are things I’ve learned that helped me take some of the stress out of it.”
REDUCE YOUR UNKNOWNS
Renovating can be exciting, but don’t rush in. I spent roughly the same amount of time planning what the house would look like, researching my options and creating my timeline and budget, as I did actually renovating. This reduced the number of decisions that took me by surprise and when I did have to make a last minute choice, I knew how it would affect the rest of the build, my look and my bank balance.
TRADE TIME FOR SAVINGS
Starting your renovation with a strong plan means you can start ordering your building materials and furnishings early. For me, this meant ordering over-oversized couches and chests from America a year out. That may seem a little premature, but I saved a considerable amount of money because I could wait for a sale and my bargains to arrive.
IDENTIFY YOUR TIME DRAINS
Rooms like a bathroom require a lot of amenities and can become slow moving compared to the rest of the home, as one trade will need to wait for another to finish their work before starting. This is where one mistake can really kill productivity. If your electrician can’t start work on their day, it can take weeks to get them back in, which then has huge knock on effects for your tilers, plasterers etc.
Identify these rooms and find ways to keep the process moving. My downstairs bathroom is very small for many people to work in at once. Using Axon cladding horizontally helped speed up the process and gave me the shiplap look I wanted, it’s quick to install and is resistant to water damage.
SPEAK TO YOUR BUILDER DAILY
Mistakes cost time and money, so nipping potential issues in the bud will keep you on the straight and narrow. My builders were amazing, but you can only rely on floor plans 80 percent of the time, there’s a big 20 percent you need to be on top of every day.
I was lucky to be able to live next door to my site, which really helped. If you can, video call with your builder, so they can show you around the site and areas that they are working on. I’ve heard of people who don’t visit their home for weeks and come back to huge issues that need a lot of work to be rectified, completely derailing the project. It makes sense to spend a small amount of time daily checking in, than a lot of time at once to fix a problem.
GET THE LOOK FOR LESS
We often think about saving money when trying to achieve a look. However when it comes to renovating, time is money. If you can find a product that is quicker to put up, you may just fast track your way to savings.
One of the first materials I chose when renovating was Linea Weatherboard, it’s more cost effective than similar cladding products and gave me the shadow lined, weatherboard look I wanted. When I told my builders I wanted to use Linea Weatherboard, they were thrilled as they had worked with it before and knew that it’s quick and easy to install. This reduced the time spent on my façade. As my house is fully wrapped in Linea Weatherboard it had a huge effect, the front façade only took a day to fully clad.
It’s one thing to have a vision in your head, but to communicate it is an entirely different skill. I spent a lot of time learning construction terms, which helped me understand what my trades were saying to me. However what helped me communicate my vision, was providing a file of images I had collected over time, photographs of important details so I felt comfortable that we were on the same page. It’s so easy to do with sites like Houzz and Pinterest, so best start there!
I’m immensely proud to have completed my first renovation, it’s my perfect home and I’m thrilled that I could create the look and lifestyle I wanted on a realistic budget and under time. I would advise any would-be-renovator that it’s a process full of surprises and learnings, but also, if it’s done well, that it can give you the home of your dreams. It has for me.