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Janice Anderssen - Decor and DIY Expert

The Do's and Dont's of home renovation

With renovations, there's a right way and a wrong way.

DO call in a Structural Engineer
An inspection ensures the building is structurally sound and capable of being renovated. Failure to do this may mean huge costs when the construction work starts. It's essential to have a third party - someone other than yourself or the builder - to oversee the progress of the building work - someone who is more objective that yourself or your builder.

DO use an Architectural Designer or qualified Draughtsman
Good initial planning should include documentation that allows you to monitor the work stage by stage. This should include the scope of works, the costs of the most important items, the overall target costs and job duration. And remember to always allow between 10 - 20% leeway on costs and duration, for bad weather and delivery problems.

Many people complain about architects' fees but these are fees that save. A good architect will be able to recommend several builders and monitor the work.

DON'T go with the cheapest builder
Cheap is not the wisest route to take. To get work done for as cheap as possible is nearly always a mistake. It often means the basics are not completed. A cheap price means a cheap job. Check the builder thoroughly because if you are unfortunate enough to strike an incompetent or insolvent one, you could find yourself in real strife. A slow builder means you could be paying mortgage repayments for months longer than you planned. But worst of all is a builder who goes broke in the middle of a job. You will find yourself paying a small fortune for someone to come and fix the mess.

A good builder will be a member of the Master Builders Association and will be happy to give you the names of people for whom he has recently completed jobs. Take the time to visit some of these people and investigate the quality of the work. Check whether the job was done on time and on budget.

DO get your finance organized
The practical option is usually to extend your home loan if you have one. Start by working out how much the total loan will be when the costs of the renovation are added to your loan balance. Don't forget to include the extras that pop up. These include items such as landscaping and new furniture and fittings.

Once you have figured out how much you need to borrow, you could go for a line of credit loan. The benefits are that you are required to make payments of interest only and are free to draw down the loan as the progress payments fall due.

You do not want to put yourself in a position where your property has to be inspected by a bank valuer every time a progress claim is due. You will be incurring unnecessary fees, but also there could be delays if the valuer has a hectic schedule.

DON'T overdo the DIY
A lot of time can be taken up fixing blunders made by do-it-yourselfers. Any serious structural work is best left to a qualified builder. The biggest advantage of hiring qualified tradesmen, is that they are insured and come with warranties.

DO get council approval
Don't assume that council approval is not required for minor renovations. When a house is resold illegal building works can detract from the resale value or the council can order their removal.

DON'T overcapitalise
You can avoid this by asking an agent to provide an appraisal of your home's value today to see how it compares with those around you. If its price today, plus the renovations, does not exceed the average price in the street, overcapitalising should not be a problem. If your house is worth R600,000, and the average price in the street is R750,000, you could safely spend R150,000 on renovations.

DO consider the costs of moving
A good rule of thumb is that moving from one house to another will cost you about 7% of the price of the new home. For example, if you sell a house for R600,000 and buy another for R900,000 you would be looking at close to R60,000 in expenses. These include the agent's commission, legal fees and stamp duty, loan fees and removalist fees. That is a huge loss of capital.

DON'T leave the decisions to someone else
If you don't choose the products and materials to be used and installed during your renovation, you risk disappointment, or even disagreement, with the builders and architect. You should be involved to some extent in all decisions about what is being put into your house.

Most builders should ask you to specify a long list of 'prime cost items', which are the most expensive materials and products to be used. The more detailed your specifications, the more competitive your quote will be. Probably the biggest stress on clients is not the building itself - it's all the decisions they have to make. There are about 500 different types of cupboard handles to choose from alone. Then you've got to choose surfaces, windows, floorboards, tiles, skirting boards, lighting, appliances etc.

Hire an interior designer if you don't have time.

DON'T stay, if the job is too big
It is usually easier to move out of your house and rent while the renovations are under way. If you try to keep living there, you will slow down the job and that will cost you money. If you expect the builder to clean up every day before they leave, they have to stop work an hour early.

Article courtesy of www.home-dzine.com . Click here for more home design ideas.


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