Don’t wait until you are halfway through your renovation to discover that you should have painted the walls before laying the solid timber floors or that the wiring should have been finished before the new ceiling went in. Follow a checklist in your renovation project for less stress and mess.

‘The benefit to working from a checklist is clarity,’ says property entrepreneur Michael Tiemens from property consultants, Peak Property Group in Melbourne. ‘It provides complete transparency about what needs to happen and when. It can then assist you in rolling out the process and managing your tasks and trades people in the right order. This creates overall efficiency and project flow.’

Design and planning

‘Keep it simple and be as final about your decisions as you can be before you start. Changes to designs and materials during the process add delays and costs that can really destroy your budget,’ says renovating expert Tim Carter, from Foreshore Projects in Sydney. Decide if you are going to do it yourself or hire a project manager or builder

‘Employ a project manager/builder as this will keep the work flowing and they will employ licensed trades that will turn up and do a good job. You will also receive a seven-year warranty for the work completed,’ says Angeline O’Shannessy, project manager and designer from Beautiful Hunter Homes, who has been buying and renovating homes for over 20 years.

‘If you decide to go it on your own you need to arrange the required trades in the correct order and make sure their work is done to Australian standards. I would recommend that you ask for a copy of their licences and insurances so you are covered if anything goes wrong.’

Get council approval

You will need to check with your council to clarify the local regulations before you start renovations, says Bernadette Janson from The School of Renovating in Sydney. ‘Are you doing additions? Are you changing the use of any rooms? (for example changing a bedroom to a bathroom.) Are you making structural changes? Are you planning a deck larger than 20 square metres and higher than one metre? Some areas require council approval for changes to the external appearance of the property, even changing paint colours,’ she says.

What to buy

‘Look at what needs to be purchased,’ says Tiemens. ‘Many times the hot water systems, heating and/or cooling, roof tiles, weatherboards, wiring, plumbing can be costly items which can blow your budget. Don’t forget the cosmetic elements to the property, for example painting, floor coverings, tapware, kitchen, bathrooms, tiling, wardrobes, storage, landscaping and fencing.

‘Purchase all your fittings and fixtures before you start, this will reduce the chance of delays on the job site,’ says O’Shannessy.

Sequence of works

In general, work from the top to the bottom of a room. For example, start with the ceilings, then the walls and the floors. ‘If you are laying new floors, it is best to have the painting done first to avoid splashes or spills,’ says Dickins. As Janson points out, ‘it is best to co-ordinate the work by trade rather than room by room.’
Dickins suggests the following easy guide for the sequence of works for a kitchen renovation.

Design: Work out what you are doing, run it past the trades involved, such as the builder and electrician, and check requirements for special fittings, such as connecting the fridge to plumbing or tapware with filters.

Demo: Remove all the rubble so there is a safe, clear space to work. Pull up the flooring and remove all the cabinets.

Rough in: This is when new wall framing goes in, plus electricals, plumbing and gas are positioned.

Walls and ceilings: Plasterboard is installed, with new ceilings if needed.

Doors and windows: All trims, skirtings and architraves should go in before the cabinets.

Cabinets: Install the carcasses, leaving the doors until later so there is access for the appliances, like the dishwasher.

Bench sink and taps: The bench is usually cut to fit the sink so have them installed together.

Paint and splashback: Finalise all the painting before tiling or installing the splashback and laying the floor.

Flooring: Lay the floor after the cabinets, but before the appliances.

Appliances and lighting: Call the plumber and electrician back to install these.

Cabinet doors: Hang the doors, position the drawers and add any open shelves.

Finally remember that the renovation is likely to be more costly and messy than you imagined. Tiemens has some sound advice for getting to the end of your project. ‘No matter which style of renovation you are pursuing, the last 20 per cent will take you longest and cost the most so it is important to persist right the way through until the end without cutting corners and be diligent in following your budget and check list.’

Posted by Sandy Smith – Domain (Fairfax) on 21st July, 2016