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Home renovation advice: Avoid the trap of keeping up with the Joneses

By September 20, 2022Home, Home Improvement
Home renovation mistakes

It’s almost impossible to drive down any road around the city and not spot a house having work done. All this progress is fantastic. But it can be unsettling for some homeowners, making them feel like they, too, should be making changes to their homes. Before jumping into a home renovation project, take a moment to consider what you are trying to achieve. If other people on your street getting work done is the catalyst to start a job you’ve been putting on the long finger, great. But if it makes you feel like you should be doing something, then stop and ask yourself these six questions before ordering that skip.

What is my motivation for getting the work done?

Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses. The work you intend to do should significantly improve your quality of life. Fixing something that isn’t working or creating a solution to a problem that disrupts your day-to-day life is worth investing in. Things like creating a better family living space, improving insulation or replacing poor performing windows are all worthwhile investments.

But do bear in mind that the home renovation work you do will have an impact on other areas of your home, so it’s essential you plan correctly and consider what the knock-on effect of the work is going to be. Without adequately considering why you are doing the job and what the benefits are, you may well find that any satisfaction will be short-lived and there’s a very good chance you’ll regret your choices in the future.

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Have I explored all of the options available?

Never rush into any home renovation project, no matter how small. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into starting work or purchasing something by a tradesperson, contractor or supplier. Make sure you’ve considered all of the options before you start anything. Shop around and get quotes from as many suppliers and tradespeople as possible.

Improving or updating one area of your home is going to highlight other areas that need work, so proper planning is essential. Without a plan you risk starting a snowball effect of work needing to be done. Separate works are unlikely to compliment each other, you’ll waste money and won’t be adding value to your home. All this will have a negative effect your day to day life, and you’ll end up worse off than before you started.

Having a plan to work to is especially important where you want to phase the work. This way you won’t risk having to undo anything when you tackle the next stage in the future. Or worse having to design around things merely because they still feel new and they cost you a lot of money.

Could the work be part of a larger project in the future?

What are your plans for your home? Do you eventually intend to extend? If so it may well be worth postponing any small jobs and getting everything done together when you have the budget to do the bigger home renovation project. Not only will you have more buying power but you will only have to go through the disruption of having tradespeople in your home once.

The amount of natural light in a space is often overlooked as a design element, but it plays a crucial role in shaping the overall ambience.

Is the work merely solving a current problem and will it still work in the future?

It’s easy to get frustrated by certain things but are these frustrations only temporary? Be careful of wants versus needs. Our needs for our homes are always changing, so it’s vital you plan for the future when doing any work in your home and resist the temptation to make changes based on what you want right now.

You might want to go ahead and turn the box room into an ensuite, but actually, you also intend converting your attic to a large bedroom at a later date. In this scenario the box room will need to go to make way for the stairs – and so undoing all the work to turn it into a an ensuite. While you could salvage the sanitaryware, the other costs will never be recouped. Always keep the big picture in mind.

How to budget for a home renovation

Is the work within my budget?

Costs are rising all the time, and your expectations might be unrealistic for what you are trying to do. Without planning, you may find that once you start, you will need to compromise to the extent the job is not all what you’d hoped it would be. It’s vital you get a handle on the costs before you start the work.

When budgeting it’s crucial you include a contingency of at least 10% for any unforeseen items. This isn’t something for large jobs, even something as small as a bathroom refurbishment can unearth hidden costs you hadn’t initially factored into your budget.

Am I clear about the length of time the project will take?

Bear in mind too that because of the abundance of work at the moment tradespeople and contractors are extremely busy – so you could find it difficult to get someone to commit to a small project. If you are lucky enough to get someone to do the work, there’s a risk they won’t prioritise your job, meaning it will take longer than planned. I met someone recently who was refurbishing a utility room. Because of constant delays by the plumber, the job that should have taken three days took four weeks.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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