The Complete Guide to Home Renovations

Home renovations are not always about extending. In fact, most renovations are simply about making the most of the space you have rather than building any add-ons.

If you are thinking about renovating your own home, read this article first to start preparing yourself before you commit to an idea or design.

Your home renovation checklist

Here’s what you need to know.

home renovations

Use this home renovation checklist to make sure that you are ready to get started on your project.

Check the condition of your building

Making sure that your property is sound is the first thing you should do - even before you start planning your renovation. This is because you need to know what to expect going into your project so that you don’t find any nasty surprises in the middle. Ask a chartered surveyor to look at your house thoroughly before you start.

Get help from an architect

Architects are great for envisioning new ways to make a building work. Though many renovations are simply about adding an extra room or space, an architect can help you rediscover your house and reconfigure the whole space to make it more suitable. A renovation doesn’t always mean making a house bigger, it can mean bringing it up to date, adding more light or changing the layout to make it more user-friendly.

Shop around for fittings and fixtures to get a sense of price

Lots of people underestimate the cost of renovating their house because they don’t add up all the various smaller items as well as the larger building costs. The more preparation you can do before you start, the better idea you will have of how much the end product will be. Get quotes for flooring, tiles, lighting, furniture - everything you will need to complete your renovation.

Get planning permission

If you are making significant changes to your building, you may need to seek planning permission before you begin. You will need to have plans ready to submit before you get permission so you need to be certain about what you want before beginning the process. You should also check whether you require any permits to start work.

Why do you want to renovate?

People have different reasons for renovating their homes and you need to have a good idea of what you want to achieve with your building work. An architect can often help you figure out the best solution for your problem and may even be able to fix a few other things you hadn't considered.

modernise-400x266Modernize your home

One of the main reasons people choose to renovate is that their homes are tired and dated. Modernizing is often about ripping out old fitting and thinking more carefully about the materials and feel of a room.

Have a look at this bathroom renovation as a great example.

Make more of your space

Modern interior design is increasingly minimalist and open plan and a home renovation can bring this look to any building with some careful planning.

Have a look at this new build to see how open plan can be used to your advantage.

Create a smarter layout

The functionality of your house is more important than you might think and many people renovate to swap rooms around or divide the space in a more functional manner. This might include things like adding ensuite bathrooms or opening up your living space to create a kitchen diner.

Things to consider…

As you come up with your new design, there are some things you will need to consider.


How you enter and exit a room might not be the most exciting part of your renovation but it is where many bugbears lie for homeowners. You need to make sure that your entrance isn’t impeded by anything but that it will also be secure when shut. Where a door is can also change the overall layout of your room so it is worth taking time to look at all your options.



Another popular renovation is to increase the amount of natural light in your home. Changing the layout of your home and installing larger windows is an easy way to do this but you could also try adding skylights and large mirrors to increase the light in your home.

Heating and cooling

The temperature of a room is obviously a key factor - you need to be comfortable. Excess heat is a common problem, especially if you have large windows to let in a lot of light. However, there are simple and elegant solutions such as building a pergola to increase the amount of shade.

Resale options

Some people love to buy a project house and then do some renovation work to flip it for a profit. This is a great idea if you have the time but you will need to be clever about where you invest your money. Again, an architect or renovation company will be able to assist you in creating a design to add value.

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Do It Yourself vs Done for you

Choosing whether to do it yourself or get someone in isn’t always an easy decision. Professional renovation can be expensive, but on the other hand, you are much more likely to get professional results. Let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons of each option.

Do it yourself

The main advantage of doing your renovation yourself is that you can save a lot of money on labour. This can mean that you can splash out a bit more on finishings or do more with less. On the other hand, if you are not an expert in the work you are doing, you could easily get yourself in a mess and end up calling a professional in to sort it out for you anyway!

However, if you are interested in renovating houses for profit, you could see this as an opportunity to learn and then practise new skills on your own home before you take on a project for real. If this is the case then you should almost certainly seek proper training in the various trades you will need.

Done for you

The main advantage here is that the project will be done quickly, professionally and to a much higher standard than you might achieve yourself. The disadvantage, of course, is that you will have to pay the professionals for their time, which will obviously be more expensive. Of course, you really do get what you pay for so most people tend to go with this option.

If you are looking to renovate for profit, getting the professionals in can also help you to figure out where you will be able to make your profit on sale. Plus, your buyers are much more likely to pay more for a professional finish than a renovation that looks ‘homemade’.


Finance options

How your fund your renovation and the amount of money you have access to will definitely affect the size of the project you can take on.

Using savings

If you can, you should use your savings to pay for a renovation. This is the best way to avoid having to take out a loan but it might mean that you have to reduce the scope of your renovation to make it cheaper. Using savings also means that you will have to build up your finances and ensure that even after your renovation you have enough to fall back on should you need to.

Home equity

This method allows you to borrow against the value of your home. Usually, you will be able to access around 80% of the value of your home but, naturally, the less money you need to borrow, the better. The advantage of this type of loan is that it usually comes at a much lower interest rate than other loan types but it will mean that you will spend much longer paying off your mortgage.

Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing is an option that falls between home equity and savings. By refinancing, you could reduce your monthly repayments giving you a stronger chance of saving more quickly to fund your renovation. Refinancing your mortgage is something that you should think about every few years regardless of whether you are planning a renovation project or not as this is the best way to ensure that you are always getting the best deal available to you.

other-options-400x266Other options

There are a few other options such as taking out a credit card or personal loan but these options should be treated with some caution. Unless you are certain that you will be able to pay these loans off, the interest can quickly spiral out of control and leave you in a mess. The best thing to do is see where the other methods get you first and then fall back on alternatives later on if you really have to.

How is Your Insurance Affected?

Before you start, you will need to make sure that your insurance company are aware of your renovation plans. Make sure that your policy is comprehensive and will still apply while the renovation work is ongoing. As you would expect, this is a very important check to make before you begin - don’t wait for something to go wrong!

You should also make sure that you are covered for liability should anyone get hurt. This is especially important if you will continue to live at home throughout the works. You may need to take out a new insurance policy while the renovation is ongoing just to make sure that your insurance covers all your needs in that time.

If you are planning to construct as a part of your renovation work, you are likely to need construction insurance. Works that are projected to cost over $20,000 or any works that require a builder’s licence will certainly need construction insurance and you should move out of your home until the work is completed.

For anyone who wants to do their renovation work themselves, make sure that DIY work is covered by your insurance. Though DIY is cheaper, it might actually be quite a high cost to make sure that you have the coverage you need, so you should think carefully before going ahead.

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How to go about getting your quote

Getting quotes for your renovation work is an exciting step to take as the project becomes more real. However, you should take care to get a few quotes before jumping in and do some research to see what other people have paid for similar works in your area.

what-you-want-before-400x266home renovations

Decide exactly what you want

Before you accept any quotes and begin work, you need to be certain about what you really want. This is important because you don’t want to realise that you have a better idea later on when it is too late to change your mind.

Always get at least 3 quotes for identical plans

Once your plans are set, get at least 3 quotes for exactly the same work. There’s no point in trying to compare different quotes with different plans to work out which is best value.

Check the business’ reputation

The price isn’t the only thing you need to consider. You should also do a quick background check to make sure that your builder is going to do a good job. Asking a few questions to check that you are on the same page is a good idea too so that everyone is clear about the finish and quality you are looking for.

With a home renovation, there’s no need to move house to get exactly what you want. Just a few changes is all it takes to make a building a home and bring your interior up to date. Working with your space to figure out the best layout and design is often the best way to achieve something the neighbors will certainly be jealous of.

All you need to do is get in touch with a renovations specialist like Smith & Sons to get the ball rolling and see what a difference could be made.

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