5 Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask About Home Renovations

2 Mar, 2023

Managing a home renovation is a complex process, especially for the first time. It involves more than just planning the layout and selecting materials. It also involves coordinating with contractors and dealing with unexpected details that come up during the project such as unforeseen costs, time blowouts, and even injuries. Planning and research are essential in having an experience that is as smooth as a first-time reno can be. 

Regardless of the type, extent, and specific details about your renovation, there are certain logistical questions that we have found come up often, as they impact homeowners day to day. In this article, we will go over 5 common questions homeowners have about their renovation but are too shy or intimidated to ask. 

before renovation plastering sydney

Question 1: Can we still stay in the area even whilst the renovation is underway?

Living in and amongst a renovation site can be tough, bringing challenges that are unlikely to be anything you have experienced before. Noise, mess, chaos, these things require one to be adaptable, and flexible and really don’t leave much room for the comforts you are used to. Especially difficult if you have multiple people living in the house, including kids. All this to say that yes, you can live in a place during the renovation but the extent of the renovation will impact how viable of an option it will be. 

The benefits of living at your home whilst the renovation underway include saving money as well as being able to keep a pulse on the progress of your renovation. Cons of the approach include the obvious discomfort, but also consider the time cost of a slower renovation due to the fact of needing to renovate either room by room or section by section. If your renovation is minor, or only in part of the house then this won’t be an issue to consider. Alternative accommodation could be a good option to consider, depending on your budget and priorities, as well as how much of the renovation you will do yourself. 

Question 2: Do you organise trades one by one or do you hire a builder to organise that for you?

The answer to both of these questions is yes, you can. You have the option of engaging a project manager or builder to manage the renovation, especially if it is a large, extensive renovation. They will organise and manage timeframes and trades, coordinate the flow of tasks, and ensure things are running to schedule. You will need to pay for the services of a project manager, therefore it will be up to your situation and budget as to whether this option fits your situation. On the flip side, you can organise and project manage your own renovation. Keeping in mind that you will need to organise the hiring of trades, this will require you to be onsite more often, and will require more time and effort on your part as well. Most builders have connections across the trades, from plasterers to carpenters, plumbers, and landscapers, their connections might mean better rates and timeframes. You don’t have to engage all their recommendations, you could engage a few of the trades yourself if you see fit. 

Question 3: Should your trades be licensed?

Not all trades need to be licensed, there are some tasks that can be done by a handyman, however, for the most part, trades need to be licensed and insured in order to protect your investment, especially for areas including electrical, plumbing, and any structural modifications such as extensions or wall removals. 

You are well within your rights to ask about the licenses and insurance policies of the trades you are engaging because after all you are the customer and renovating your property will have significant costs involved with the potential for significant value-adding. Your contractor’s license is proof that they are committed to professionalism and backing up their work.

Question 4: Do I need to pay a deposit for trades before starting and when do you pay the remainder?

In NSW the maximum amount of deposit that you are required to pay upfront is 10%. Being that renovation costs do add up, you need to have a considerable amount of the renovation funds ready to go before the project is underway, this is to ensure that you can pay for the work that has been done on your property. One thing to consider is that it is a good idea to keep a large portion of the funds to be paid upon completion of the task. This will ensure that the tradesperson is kept accountable and will complete the task required of them. For the most part, this won’t be an issue, but payment upon completion is a way to protect yourself. 

Question 5: Do you have to notify your neighbours about work that will be carried out?

After securing any required permits for your renovation, it wouldn’t hurt to advise your neighbours about the project that will take place on your property including expected time frames and how they will be impacted including noise, trucks, etc. This is a courtesy and not a requirement unless the work directly affects them such as a boundary fence or requiring access from your neighbour’s property. Work must be conducted within acceptable hours, if there will be work outside these hours, it is a courtesy also to warn your neighbours about this, maybe even sweeten the deal by giving them a little hamper with the heads up. To add to this, the NSW Environment Department outlined that noise from heavy construction equipment and power tools must cease during certain times – from 8 pm to 8 am on Sundays and public holidays, and 8 pm to 7 am on weekdays and Saturdays.

5. How long does the average cosmetic renovation take?

This question has such a range of answers, it is impossible to give one accurate answer. On average, home renovations in NSW take between 3-9 months and take this with a hefty grain of salt as this number is affected by the time in which you renovate impacting trade availability, material availability, and wait times, as well as obviously the extent of your renovation. Gathering quotes from your trades will give you an opportunity to get an idea of time frames that can be expected. If you have engaged a project manager, they can give you realistic time frames to expect in the current climate.

Conclusion

Renovating your home will inevitably have a significant financial and logistical impact on your life. It is worth preparing yourself as best you can by asking the right questions to give you the best chance of having a smooth renovation experience. Expect hiccups and adaptability, manage your expectations and try as best you can to enjoy the process. Renovations are overwhelming, exciting and fun all at the same time.

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