5 Rookie Renovating Errors and How to Avoid them

With so many people taking on the challenge of creating their dream home, it’s clear we’re living in a house-proud and hands-on era. Creating the home you will live in for decades brings enormous pressure on getting it right and inexperience can lead to all sorts of stress related to time, budget and a compromised outcome.

We recently launched our new website for Open Design Studio. The program is your comprehensive guide to designing your own luxury interiors projects like I would! In it, I take you through all the stages of design as I go through them, so that you can avoid all the costly errors that often occur when rookies take on renos!

Today, I thought I’d share 5 of the top Rookie Renovation errors and how to overcome them to get you started!

If you’re already working on your project, or about to start one, keep these following points in mind. It will save you time, pain and heartache.

01. Planning Oversights
With interiors projects, the finished product will only ever be as good as your initial design. Poor planning leads to disastrous projects.

For those of you who are new to all of this, spatial planning is a huge part in the design process. This is where you look at the entire floorplan of your home, and map out how each room/space/storage facility/amenity will function and flow into other areas. It’s thinking about where to conceal toilet pans, and how to zone out a large living space.

Take your time when planning to research and explore your ideas. Test and evaluate them. The goal is to create something that is beautiful, functional and very you. Continue to refine your ideas until you arrive at a result that feels consistent, harmonious and emphatic of your lifestyle.

On some projects we would map out the plans on vacant land with tape before having clients walk through to assess proportions and get a feel of the space. You can do this even in your kitchen, or after demolition, so you can accurately envisage using the new space. Altering the plan after the project is underway is expensive! It will attract variations in your building fee (at a higher builder’s margin) and potential delays in construction.

02. Blowing the Budget
There are two figures you need to know before you get started. Firstly, what budget you have available for this project (actual budget) and secondly, what figure you cannot exceed before over-capitalising (viable budget).

Sometimes these figures are the same amount and sometimes one of these figures has little importance. The priority you give each figure depends on the time you plan to stay in the property and your bank balance. For example, people who have a budget of $500K but intend to live in the house forever may not mind if the cost escalates to the $1mil mark, as long as they are getting the dream they envisage.

Either way, it is critical to understand these figures and communicate them with people you engage during the process. Not only could you land in a serious debt situation, but you may get to a point where you have become so emotionally involved on the project (spending actual budget) that you have well exceeded the viable budget and the project cannot proceed.

People blow the budget when they don’t do their research and get second opinions on their quotes. I recommend looking at all the things you want to achieve in your home, before chatting to a variety of contractors to see what the costs are surrounding them. Ask several contractors to get price comparisons and always request a total breakdown of products and services. Always keep a contingency fund, just in case issues or changes arise so you can be financially prepared

Measure every stage of your project against the agreed time and budget. People so easily get talked into upgrading features and finishes etc. and then suddenly find their budget is blown!

03. Hiring the Wrong Team
This is seriously critical to the success of the project and your sanity. Trust me! Working with people and making hires is difficult in any situation – I promise you it is worse when you are hiring and navigating people on an investment as financially substantial and personal as the build of your home!

I give you the full blown low down on how to craft that PERFECT A Team in Module 5, the project management kick-ass training in my Open Studio. Let’s have a look at some essential hiring criteria here.

You want to find people who get along with you, care about your project, are good problem solvers with a ‘get-shit done’ attitude. I don’t mess around when it comes to finding contractors and trades people for projects. It’s make or break because the right team will quickly deal with changes or problems well, and in your best interests. So, skills and experience are only the starting point when hiring your A Team. Get word-of-mouth, check references, feel out their vibe, and check multiple options before deciding on one.

The biggest mistakes people make here is not spending enough time making sure that the attitudes and interests of your team are in the right place; or ensuring that you’ve assessed a few options before going forward.

04. Poor use of Natural Light
Maximising natural light in a space is one of the biggest pursuits interior designers, and architects for that matter, undertake.  Research and understand how natural light affects your property at the moment and work strategically to maximise this after your renovation.

A light-filled home is one that energises and invigorates because no light is better than that from the sun. Furthermore, strategic positioning will increase the energy efficiency of the home – making it both harmonious to live in and cheaper to run. Are there more ways you can find to allow natural light in?

In Australia, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, this daily movement has its unique affect on your property. Look at the position of your house and see where the morning and noon light is angled relative to your property and location in the world. North light is a beautiful light for the morning. Also research where the hot afternoon sun penetrates and plan accordingly.

05. Copying Straight from a Magazine
Come on.. you’re better than that, right?

If you’ve taken this dream so far, you can go a little harder, be a little bolder and put your own style into it. Make it truly yours. After all the hard work of renovating, don’t let the final reveal look like someone else’s house or a project you saw in a magazine. You are a unique individual, you deserve a place that represents this.

Have fun with your style and experiment. Trust yourself, creating your dream home isn’t about what you saw in a magazine (that worked for someone else), or impressing other people. No one else needs to love it but you. The best compliment someone can give you when they enter your home is that is speaks your language, and carries your style. It should be an extension of you. Don’t ever copy your own self-expression. Life is too short to be someone else!

If you would like view our new website as well as sign up for our 2-week free trial click here.