2021 Renovation Planning Guide - Part 1

March 15, 2021

Renovations are big in 2021. With property sales booming, there is even more incentive to either spruce up your home for sale or get into an investment property.

By purchasing a property that needs some TLC and giving it a modern glow, you can transform it into a fantastic income stream.

First home buyers will also be looking at renovation options, as crazy prices and swift sales mean buying what you can afford, where you can afford it and adding those final touches yourself to get it shaped into a home that you'll love for years to come.

Let’s get real though, renovations are a daunting and difficult task. Getting it right will take some planning.

Budgets, timelines, contracted work, materials and overall management are just a few of the hurdles you will face on the way. That doesn't mean it can't be done, or that it shouldn't be attempted, it just means you need to be on your toes, well-informed and march in with a plan that will work.

We'll be splitting this blog across several different posts so that we can give you the details you need to get that plan right. We'll start here with planning your budget, then give you a rundown of different renovation types and the pros and cons of renovations so you get a heads-up on what's about to go down.

Planning your renovation

Start with the big-ticket items first, as they will set the tone for everything that follows

1. Big picture list on the work you want to be completed

2. Budget

3. What to DIY and when to hire experts


Let’s start by creating a list that captures the work required. Be sure to include everything that needs to be done. This list will help you define your budget. Some of these items will be updates or repairs, and some will be replaced completely or built from scratch.

Making a vision board that captures images and plans for the finished look of the home is a great way to find inspiration as well as get an overall feel of the completed style of the property.

You might not be able to do all your desired fixes now, so put an asterisk or circle the really important items, like foundation work and structural fixes.

Be sure to include the cosmetic work you want, as well as the repair work the house needs. This may come from recommendations from a third-party inspection or advice from your lending agent on the home's value.


Your budget is designed to estimate and then track the cost of your layouts, materials and labour. The best method of tracking is a spreadsheet or specialised budget tracker on a template.

For your budget to be realistic you'll need to do plenty of research and talk to professionals about what they can offer, and what is possible.

A professional tradesperson may have some great ideas on how you can better manage your work or ways you can achieve a similar look in a way that needs less material or labour.

As well as researching what will work for you, find out what might not work. Knowing where the surprises might be hiding is a great way to factor in the costs for worst-case scenario discoveries.

How much you have in your budget will depend on how much you have saved or how much you can borrow. Check back on our posts to see where you can find finances to pay for your renovations.

Even if your renovation plans are small, having a clear budget showing how much you have to spend versus what the costs are, will help you prioritise the materials you use and how much work you carry out yourself or get assistance with.

You will want to research what materials, fittings, fixtures and labour costs are for each part of your project. You can scale these down in quality or quality to fit within your budget.

Don’t be fooled by small cost items. You will need to factor in everything. Some items might look too small to count, but if they are used in large numbers it can not only add up quickly, it can blow your budget, meaning you have no wiggle room if something goes wrong.

To know if your budget is on track be sure to record every dollar spent. As you go record receipts, dates paid and any paperwork you have, especially as a lot of work or fittings may come with guarantees.

Keeping on top of your budget will not only assure you that everything is going well, but it will also give you space to make a new plan if there are any changes, delays or mishaps. Being highly organised and thorough with tracking your budget and resources will be worth it in the long run.

If you do end up in hot water, your detailed budget should give you a warning before it gets out of hand. This will give you plenty of time to prioritise your funds so that work can be completed where it needs to be.

Expect surprises

Of course, you hope your build will go smoothly with no lumps or bumps. When it comes to renovations though, you can pretty much expect there will be some kind of trouble. If you plan for something to go wrong, it will be less stressful and easier to deal with, so build in a buffer of 15 to 20 per cent into your budget as a nice, flexible cushion for just-in-case.

When to Do It Yourself

Working on your renovations yourself will be a cheaper option, however, it will take longer to complete, especially if you will only be working on your property outside your regular work hours. You also need to factor in time to learn how to use each new tool or perfect a technique. New skills will be slow starting out and you will build up speed as you become more comfortable with the task.

The amount of time you spend will also depend on how significant your renovations are.

If you are making any structural changes or you are looking at a complete redesign of the home, then you will need to get advice from a professional architect or draftsperson. Expect to spend about 10 per cent of your budget on this part of the build. The peace of mind of knowing you have it right from the start is worth the money. A draftsperson can reduce costs in certain areas with insightful suggestions.

When you bring a draftsperson in early you have the benefit of a solid and sound design and their expertise along the way.

If you don’t have a complex renovation you can make the plan without a professional option if you like. With or without a professional, always check that work fits within legal guidelines and council permissions.

Hiring an expert

When it comes to doing it yourself, you need to be aware that mistakes in some areas can be costly, even dangerous, so be sure to know your limits and always get help and professional advice when you need it.

Here are some jobs that are DIY friendly:

- Pulling out existing cupboards and kitchens

- Building furniture

- Preparing walls

- Painting

- Decorating

These items are always best handled by an expert.

- Electrical

- Plumbing

- Roofing

- Structural work

With these jobs, it's recommended to hire an expert, although you can ask in advance about being an apprentice helper and learning the ropes and working side by side.

- Bricklaying

- Tiling

- Kitchen and complex storage installation

- Hardscaping

When it comes to hiring trade make sure you have them lined up in the right order.

A project manager can help here as they know what is required and when realistic time frames should be reached.

Always check that the tradespeople you hire has the right qualifications. It's up to you to do the research and hire the right help.

Make sure the quotes have itemised costs. Keep a record of all your contacts and the dates you received quotes and make sure the quotes in writing. You’ll want to have time to read over the fine print to uncover any extra costs before you sign on any labour.

When comparing quotes make sure you do it by what is included, not just the end price. Some will offer price/and or time guarantees. You’ll need to read the fine print carefully to know exactly what you are getting. Keep copies of all paperwork in order so you can reference it whenever you need to.

Look for companies and people that come with reliable references and get at least three different company’s quotes as part of your budget research.

Your plan and budget are the most important things you can do to ensure your renovation is a success. As exciting as it might be, or no matter how much pressure you feel to get started, it’s always best to spend a significant amount of time getting the plan right, so you know how to stay on track for the rest of your makeover and get the results you want.

Check in on our next blog about the different types of renovations you can choose from.

Who is Peta Stewart?

Award-winning conveyancer. Entrepreneur. Business mentor. Women’s cycling advocate. These are just some of the ways Peta Stewart is introduced. What ties them together is a steely determination to help people achieve their life goals and have fun in the process.

In 2004, Peta became the first licensed conveyancer in the Albury Wodonga greater region. Five years later, she launched her own business and started shaking up the industry with a good dose of personality, integrity and humanity.

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