August 5th, 2016 in

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Top 10 Really Useful Renovation Tips

Renovation, also known as remodeling, is the process of improving a home that is outdated or damaged. On the whole, it should be a positive experience as it’s improving the value and appearance of your biggest asset. Unfortunately, more often than not, a renovation doesn’t always go as smoothly as one would hope.

Not only is it dirty, noisy and often expensive, bad weather and unreliable tradespeople can also cause havoc on the building site.

But never fear. By doing some thorough research and planning before the first work tool is picked up you’ll be able to minimise any delays and unnecessary expenses. And best of all, you’ll be able to turn a potentially stressful experience into a valuable, long-term investment.

There are plenty of renovation ideas out there to suit your every need. However, it’s worth considering whether or not your home is worth the money spent on a renovation. It may be just as wise to knock it down and rebuild from scratch, especially if you have dangerous materials throughout like asbestos. This would be a pretty serious decision to make so we suggest you always get a second opinion from experts before starting any work.
 
best-home-improvements
 
Below are some pretty nifty renovation tips to help you through the process.
 

Renovation Tips to Get You Started

 

1. STICK TO THE RULES

 
Check the building regulations of your local government area before you begin renovating. Some councils have certain regulations in place that are designed to:
 

  • Maximise sustainability.
  • Reduce the risk of flood damage and bushfire.
  • Maintain the character of certain suburbs or localities.

 
Prior research will make the full cost evident before the renovation begins.
 

2. BUDGET LIKE A HAWK

 
Many things can go wrong when renovating and it could mess up even the most finely tuned timetable. Assume that if something is to go wrong, it usually will.

Make contingency plans for wet weather, unavailability of contractors, and if a job takes longer than expected.

And always, always keep some money aside for unexpected surprises. It’s best to not skimp on quality or cut corners.
 

3. THINK STRATEGICALLY

 
Keep the next owner in mind with your renovation. Add versatile features and play it safe with neutral colours. You may love red walls but a potential buyer might not. Instead try accessorizing with other items such as cushions, curtains, rugs and furnishings.
 

4. GET A VALUATION

 
Before you start get a valuation from your local real estate agent. Given that renovation is a risky business it’s a good idea to get a handle on what your home is worth prior to starting. Why pay big bucks renovating if you won’t make the money back?

Worse still, if the real estate market is flat you are better holding off until the timing is right.
 

5. DON’T LEAVE IT TOO LATE, PLAN AHEAD

 
If you need to get DA’s in to the council do it as soon as possible. The later you leave it, the longer the approval process can take. And if you need to revise your building plans you’ll end up having to get your architect to redo them if they don’t get passed the first time.

Stick to your original renovation ideas and try not to keep altering plans as this also adds extra costs to your budget.
 
Home-Improvement
 

6. HAGGLE & GET THE BEST PRICES

 
Shop around for fittings both in person and online. You’ll be surprised at what bargains you can pick up by doing your research. Paying in cash is a great way to get further discounts too.

Also some retailers are keen to get rid of end-of-line products or display models so ask them if they have any available for you to see. And don’t be afraid to haggle!
 

7. SEEK ADVICE FROM OTHERS

 
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find out specific information or the right person for a job. So start chatting with others who have recently renovated and can help you with people they recommend and what features are worth including and which ones aren’t.

If at all possible, avoid choosing the cheapest quote or the earliest available builders, as this could be a red flag for bad workmanship and cutting corners.
 

8. BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU CUT COSTS

 
Under no circumstances should you ever try doing highly skilled jobs like electrical work or plumbing yourself. It’s not only illegal, but also a false economy to risk your home or your life trying to save a few dollars.

Cut down on costs by finding small, fiddly and time-consuming jobs that you can do yourself, such as dismantling kitchen cabinets, removing carpet or scrapping back paint layers.
 

9. EXERCISE YOUR GREEN THUMB

 
If you’re renovating for profit make sure you include your garden too. People love a tidy garden with lots of healthy plants and space to enjoy outdoor living.

Even if gardening isn’t your thing, you can still create an easy to maintain backyard with slow-growing lawn and paved areas. There’s always the option of hiring a landscape gardening company to do the planning and design work for you.

But if you fancy yourself as a bit of a green thumb then choose plants you can propagate yourself to save costs and create a uniform look.
 

10. KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES

 
It’s worthwhile going for a walk around your neighbourhood to see what others have done to their properties. Not only will you get some fabulous ideas, you’ll also see what works and what doesn’t.

Try renovating to suit the size and location of the property, as this will boost its resale value. And be mindful of the type of home you have and use that to guide your renovation.
 
home-improvement-ideas
 

Why Opt For a Renovation?

 
There are many reasons why a renovation could be the right choice for you.
 

  • You get to improve the functionality and comfort of your home.
  • It’s not a restrictive process, if you want it can be just cosmetic!
  • You can refit your home with energy efficient fixtures that will save on your energy bills.
  • You can boost the property value quite a bit.
  • You don’t have to spend tons of money on renovations to get a totally new look.

 

As you can see, renovations are a great way to beautify your home and add value to it at the same time. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started. So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to get planning for your next renovation.

Enjoy your renovation.

All the best,

James Mason

CHECK OUT THIS BLOG POST FOR MORE: 7 Great Renovating for Profit Tips for Success

 


 

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January 24th, 2016 in

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What does it cost to renovate a Bathroom?

The cost to renovate an average size bathroom here in Australia is between $20,000 –  $25,000 dollars. Now that will vary up or down depending on the size of the room and the selection of finishes, but that allowance should cover most standard size bathrooms.

Below I will give you a real life example of what it costs to renovate or remodel a bathroom by listing out the actual costs of our own bathroom renovation.
 

Example – Our Ground Floor Bathroom Renovation.

 
A quick back story – We renovated this bathroom back in 2011 when we first purchased our property, and combined these works as part of our initial freshen up of the existing dwelling before we actually moved in after the purchase. This renovation was done before we started our major renovation back in 2014 on the “Small Space Big Build Project”.

While rates and costs will change over time the below will give you an appreciation of the breakdown of all the costs that can be associated with a bathroom renovation.

Below is a photo of the bathroom before we started work.
 
Photo of an old bathroom in original condition

 

Bathroom Renovation Costs – Ground Floor

 
Demolition – Rubbish removal cost – Skip Bin (note – no labour costs as we did this ourselves)  $650.

Plumbing – Run new services including relocating drainage and sewer in the concrete slab, cost also includes the fit off of all new fittings upon completion. $3177.

Electrical – New wiring to services such as heat lamp, exhaust fan, heated towel rail, floor heating and LED strip lights. Cost also includes fitting all of the above items upon completion $1460.

Carpentry – Build wall frames for concealed plumbing, fit toilet roll holders, robe hooks, hang door and fit new lock $1,120  

Plasterer – Sheet new wall frame and patch the existing ceiling $720

Waterproofing – New membrane to floor and walls (2 coats) $600

Tiling – Full height wall (3.1 meters) and floor tiling in subway tiles (brick pattern) $2,200.

Painting – Ceiling, window and door Inc frame $940 

Cabinetry – Custom made mirrored shaving cabinet, Inc installation $1,850.

Shower screen – Frameless glass unit, Inc installation $1,400.
 

Materials supplied for the project

 
Plumbing fittings – Wall hung toilet, taps, basin, 2* shower roses, heated towel rail, under floor heating $3,488

Tile supply – Wall and floor $1,575 (my wife has expensive taste…)

Light fittings – IXL heat lamp / fan and LED strip lighting $650

Door and handle – $240

Miscellaneousness building materials – Bagged concrete, timber framing, tile angles, cornice, nails bolts and screws etc $680

 

OUR TOTAL BATHROOM COST $ 20,750

 

Bathroom progress photos

 

Now if we were to factor in what you would pay a builder or bathroom renovation company to take care of this for you, you need to factor in their profit margin.

NOTE – Most builders will apply a margin of between 20% – 30% on top of their contractors and material cost totals to cover their overheads of running the project and their profit. So with the above example 30% on $20,750 = $6,225 Therefore the total would be closer to $26,975.

With all of the above costs laid out, you need to factor in that I am a builder myself and I have good relationships with my trades and suppliers which mean I also get good pricing as well as being very hands on.
 

In my professional opinion most people would be looking at closer to $30,000 to get the same result as what we have above.

 
So with the above said do you need a builder to help manage your bathroom renovation? No you don’t, but it will come down to how much time and effort you are willing to put into managing the entire process from start to finish including time on site to trouble shoot and problem solve if needed.

I wrote a little more in detail about some of the essential steps over on the Our Build Blog last year, check this out as well to get some more ideas.

Lastly if you are looking to tackle your own bathroom renovation I will have a video course coming out later in the year to help show all of the essential steps and processes along they way, sign up today if you are interested in knowing more and i will let you know when it is available.

Best wishes, James Mason.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN THIS BLOG POST: Cost of Bathroom Remodel: 3 Moneymaking Reasons to Upgrade

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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September 4th, 2015 in

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Interview with professional mortgage advisers Mandy Taylor and Greg Wilkinson.

Recently I sat down for a coffee with Mandy Taylor and Greg Wilkinson from Smart line mortgage advisers to chat about what it takes to obtain finances for a renovation project. I fired a few questions at them that I thought would be beneficial for first time renovators and owner builders.

But before we jump into the questions let’s learn a little more about Mandy and Greg.
 

Mandy Taylor

 
Mandy grew up in Scotland and from her early teens helped her mum in the local building society working with customers to help them buy their first homes.  After moving to Australia in 1991, she has worked with companies such as CBA, St George and Bank of Queensland heading up lending teams throughout the North Shore and Northern Beaches & Greater Sydney Region.

When she’s not working with loan clients, she’s marrying them in her capacity as a marriage celebrant….. one of the few women who marry a number of men each year….to other women!

If she’s lucky to have spare time, it’s spent in the garden, fishing or sharing quiet time with her partner and adult kids.
 

Greg Wilkinson

 
Greg has spent all his life in Sydney and grew up in the Ryde area.  Worked for CBA and spent a short stint with Bank of Queensland before becoming a loan writer for another franchisee.  Decided over a year ago to become principal of his own franchise of Smartline Personal Mortgage advisers and has never looked back.

Greg is an avid NRL Bulldog fan (don’t hold that against him).  Loves his cricket, golf and plays recreational baseball with a couple of teams in Sydney. His favourite food is sausages and he reckons a good aussie beef snag covers all 3 food groups every day of the week!
 
Owner Builder Finances
 

If an owner builder wants to obtain finances for their construction project here in Australia, is there any particular steps or processes they need to follow to apply for this type of finance?

 
Preparation….preparation…..preparation and articulation are key!  Before sourcing finance it’s imperative to get informed about the different licenses required from the various government pages.

In terms of lenders and what they may be looking for:
 

  • A copy of your detailed project.
  • Resume of you and those you intend to employ to help you complete the build.
  • Your building plan with specific costing involved.
  • Estimates and quotes for work to be completed.
  • Timeline of your build (they prefer 12- 18 months max).
  • Extra funds you may have to complete the build if you go over budget.

 
Few lenders will lend for owner/builders and those that do often may reduce the LVR (loan to value ratio) as low as 50%.  Part of preparation and planning is to speak with a broker to find out the difference ratios for lenders who will lend for owner/builder projects.

 

What other types of finances and options are available for people who are looking to renovate their home?

 
Some renovations may not be extensive or require building licenses etc.  Depending on the cost, you may simply need a ‘top up’ on your existing (eg $50,000) home loan which can be done relatively quickly or if a small amount perhaps a personal loan would suit (less than eg $10,000).

If neither the top up or personal loan is enough for you to renovate, then using the equity in your home to access more cash may be the way to go as long as the repayments can be made and other criteria met.  Each loan would be on a case by case basis.

Some lenders will cap the amount of cash out required as well as stipulate maximum LVR.

 

What advice and tips would you give someone who is obtaining finance for their first renovation project?

 

  • Speak with a broker and find out first of all the likelihood of being able to obtain the funds and how to go about it.  Whatever the amount is, it’ll help you work out a budget.  Knowing what you’d like to do versus what’s financially possible could impact your plan either way.
  • Plan the renovation and speak to experts well beforehand.
  • Plan the budget and costs, get quotes.
  • Add extra into the budget to allow for the ‘unforeseen’ problems/issues.
  • Depending on the type of renovation, take into consideration the time of year and expected delays – this can often cost more as you may need to employ more people to get job done on time.
  • Research on following links as a starting point to help guide you – 

 
http://housinglocal.com.au/renovating.aspx

http://www.yourhome.gov.au/you-begin/renovations-and-additions

 

What pitfalls should people be mindful of when obtaining any type of finance?

 

  • “Do your numbers” and don’t stretch yourself to the maximum leaving you short of cash if something goes wrong.
  • Speak to a broker as they have more lenders to choose from that your local bank, don’t feel ‘stuck’ with your own bank.
  • Speak with a broker who has experience and not just out to make a quick sale at your expense.
  • Whatever you’re obtaining finance for, if you can’t afford it, look at alternatives as the financial stress isn’t worth it, you may need to change your strategy and ideas.
  • Seriously consider life, income and loan insurance.  Most people assume their insured via their superannuation but not necessarily and at the end of the day, bad things happen to good people.  No point being over insured, however to ignore it is working on the ‘hope nothing goes wrong’ basis.
  • Ensure you don’t have to live on bread and water budget over the next 10 – 30yrs in order to get the amount you want – be realistic.
  • NEVER FEEL THAT YOU’RE BEING RUSHED INTO SIGNING UP FOR A LOAN nor that “you’ll get that investment quicker as I can get my ‘loan person’ to sort you out right now.”
  • Stay in control and avoid getting emotionally attached to the ‘item’ you need the loan for.

 

Do you have any tips & advice for first time renovators?

 
We cannot stress enough the importance of the following:
 
PLAN……PREPARE…..RESEARCH….ASK ADVICE OF EXPERTS ….RESEARCH SOME MORE ….BE REALISTIC
 
Renovation finance advisers

 

Well there you have it, some great advice from Mandy and Greg, and a big thanks for the time to answer some of my questions guys, much appreciated!

To stay up to date with what Mandy and Greg have going on, please visit – Their Smartline websiteFacebook page or Twitter account.

If you have any questions or stories related to finance please feel free to drop them in the comments section below or contact the guys directly and I’m sure they will be more than happy to help out if they can.

Till next time, happy renovating!

James Mason.

 


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

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The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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March 30th, 2015 in

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Introduction to Getting Started

This guide is designed for owner-builders and first time renovators to help educate them about the essential steps required to complete any renovation or building project.

Unsure where to start? Well, you have come to the right place. 

Building is simple, right? You have an idea of what you want to build, you get plans drawn, you get it approved by the relevant authorities, and you outsource the various tasks to a builder so they can carry out the work. Simple, right?

Sorry to have to break it to you, but…

The above is a common misunderstanding, and unless you have an overall picture of THE WHOLE BUILDING PROCESS, including all the intricate details and steps along the way, you could be in for an unpleasant building experience. Even if you are hiring a builder or architect to manage the process, you still need to familiarise yourself with what it is going to take.

Taking on any building project can be an exciting and sometimes daunting task, whether you are a first time owner-builder or a seasoned professional. It’s not easy unless you know what you are doing, or at least have an understanding of the whole building process.

The aim of this site is to offer as much information on the entire topic of owner-building and building in general from start to finish so that you can get an overall picture of what is involved through every stage of the process. Along the way, I will be testing the various owner-builder courses and offering my thoughts on helpful sites, resources, and study guides.

I will be breaking down the various stages into easy-to-follow steps so that you can take this information and adapt or tailor it to your specific needs.Whether you are studying to increase your knowledge on the topic of building, about to start on your owner-builder journey, or are already knee-deep into a project, this information will be the go-to resource to have in your tool kit.

What I will be covering here can be adapted to:
 

  • Any project large or small.
  • Renovation or new construction.
  • Residential or commercial.

 
It does not mater as the same principles apply to each, and may only need to be scaled up or down depending on your individual circumstances. The other thing to note is that various states, territories, and countries will have different regulations, guidelines, and authorities, so where possible I will link to those resources.

I will be basing the information provided on this site on Sydney NSW Australia, as that is where my expertise as a builder and consultant has been obtained.

You can learn more about my experience on the ABOUT ME page.
 

Renovation Planning

 

FIVE STAGES TO BUILDING SUCCESS!

 
Below is an overview of the various topics I will be covering in the order of how I believe they should be tackled. They will be updated and added to as my blog grows. As this is going to be a massive amount of information to take in,whether you are a beginner owner-builder or a pro, I would suggest skimming all of the topic subjects to get an appreciation of what will be involved. After, you can go back and focus on a particular topic in detail before you move onto the next.

The whole building process can be broken up into 5 main stages and they are as follows:
 

  • RESEARCH STAGE
  • PLANNING STAGE
  • PRE-COMMENCEMENT STAGE
  • CONSTRUCTION STAGE
  • PROJECT COMPLETION STAGE

 
My 5-stage guide will walk you through these various stepsbefore digging down into the intricate details you need to take in each stage to get yourself set up for a successful project.

COMPLETE GUIDE COMING SOON, WATCH THIS SPACE!

You will hear me refer to these five stages a lot throughout this site because, believe it or not, they will relate to just about everything you do, from becoming an owner-builder to engaging consultants, trades, and suppliers.

But more on that later.

TOPICS

For now let’s look at some of the topics we will be covering on this site, in order of the importance.
 

  • Becoming an owner-builder…what does it mean?
  • PLAN and get your ideas on paper. Should you draw it yourself, or engage a draftsman/architect/builder/building consultant?
  • Selection Process: What is it and do I need an interior designer?
  • Estimating: What is it and how can I save myself thousands of dollars?
  • Construction Schedule’s: What are they, and why are they so important?
  • Councils and the approvals process.
  • Could the authorities approve my project in 10 days?
  • Compliance development certificates: What are they and do they apply to me?
  • Construction certificate: What is it and what is involved in obtaining one?
  • What fees and cost to expect during the approval process before you begin building.
  • Structural engineers and their role.
  • Surveyors and their role.
  • Selecting trades and subcontractors.
  • Finances: What to expect from the bank, trades, and suppliers.
  • Insurance: What will I need and what should I expect my trades and suppliers to have?
  • Contracts: What should I expect to sign?
  • Deposits and progress payments explained.
  • Liquidated damages explained in detail.
  • Defect liability periods explained.
  • The importance of having a good project file structure and an example of how one should look.
  • Starting construction: Should I hire a builder, project manager, or owner-builder and manage the site myself?
  • Document control: Why this is critical to a successful project.
  • Site establishment and the importance of getting it right before you start.
  • Love thy neighbours, and make sure you keep them informed.
  • Trade days: What are they and how can this one process save me hours of time down the road?
  • Work orders: How to make them simple but effective.
  • Site meetings: How often should I have them and how are they conducted?
  • Critical inspections required by law: Who performs these and how often?
  • Quality control: Who is ultimately responsible?
  • Variations: What are they and how should they be administered?
  • Extensions of time: What causes them to arise and how will it affect my contract completion date?
  • Learn the basics of good housekeeping, which can go along way to keeping trades and suppliers happy, motivated, and safe.
  • Waste management and best practices.
  • Occupational health and safety requirements you will need to know and manage.
  • Defects: How to spot them and have them rectified before it is too late.
  • Dispute resolution: What to do if communication breaks down and problems arise.
  • Handover or completion of services: What should you expect?
  • Warranties: Who is responsibleby law for offering them and how long do they last?
  • Other useful topics and links, including: Online owner-builder courses road-tested, easy-to-follow steps from concept to completion, and the ultimate study guide.

 
Feel free to comment or drop me an email if you have any questions on any of the info provided, or if there are any other topics you would like me to cover in detail.

Good luck and happy building!

Regards,

James

Ok, let’s get started!


 

LEARN HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR BATHROOM LIKE A BUILDER & SAVE $$$

Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

GET INSTANT ACCESS TODAY

Yes, I Want to Know More!