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Tips for planning a home alteration

Posted September 1, 2020

The chances are, if your are reading this you are considering a home alteration or know of someone who is. Making changes to your home can be a new and exciting time. Planning what changes to make and seeing the vision come to life is a rewarding journey in itself, but there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Potential budget blowouts, having to pivot mid project, and also the fear that the project may not result in what you had hoped for. To help with your preparation, the alteration journey and aiming to get you the best results, here are some things to consider before you get going. 

1. Talk to your builder early.

This tip is number one because it should be your starting point. Before design, and before you set your heart on where you want to head. Your builder can help with initial guidance on your home’s opportunities, structural limitations and give you some great starting points to get your ideas flowing across the board. Get your builder over to your home early in the planning process.

2. have wiggle room in your budget.

Having 15-20% allowance for contingencies is a smart move. Hopefully you’ll never need to dip into it, but if something unforeseeable comes up, you’ll be very grateful you have a contingency budget to draw on. This could look like money set aside as insurance, to cover unexpected costs such as any changes or oversights in the alteration process.

3. Be mindful of your homes existing features.

A big decision to make is whether or not you are going to keep those traditional features of your home and blend them into the design to cater to them. You can choose to strip the features and start fresh or keep them to maintain the character of the home. There are ways to retain the history and merge these into a more modern design by restoring the features to give them a new lease of life, and a modernistic look while still showing off their character.  

4. Avoid changes mid-project.

Changes mid-project are where costs, time and design get affected. If there is something you notice that you think is not in line with where you are wanting to head, bring it up as early as possible.

5. Choose the right team. 

Anyone who has built a home or altered a home will attest that choosing the right builder can make or break your project. Be sure to speak to their past clients and view the quality of their workmanship before making your choice!

6. Position bathrooms and kitchens roughly the same place. 

Moving plumbing isn’t cheap as it involves removing wall linings and making holes in flooring. Group the laundry, bathrooms and toilets together. If you have to reposition something, try to keep the move to a minimum. The same goes for when you’re building a new home, if you can, consolidate your ensuite and main bathroom to be adjacent, this minimises the amount of work and material needed for your in-wall services.


7.  Cheaper isn’t always better – you will get what you pay for.

Plain and simple; one area you should never skimp on is spending money on the correct materials and a qualified tradesman to complete the job. Use reputable brands and if you’re unsure what to use, ask the experts and they will always be happy to direct help! Cheaper materials will ultimately cost you more in the long run when they fail! Avoid using a cheap builder as there are always reasons for the cheaper price whether it be variances in material, quality, or shortcutting of processes. If you receive quotes from a builder which are substantially cheaper than other builders it is a much needed sign to ask further questions and check out more examples of their previous work.

8. Get creative with the use of materials.

There are plenty of ways to be creative with the materials you use. Choosing smart choices of material, or reusing existing materials which can save money and reduce waste. Examples of this could be to upcycle old timber and repurpose it for a feature wall! You can still achieve a designer look without having to pay the usually high price tag. 

9.  Increase natural light in your home.

This can be done with either larger windows, solar tubes or skylights. In addition to this, paint with lighter neutral colours. By doing this you can dramatically increase the feeling of space without having to spend a fortune on trying to reconfigure your floor play layout.

10. Spend money on those visual features everyone can appreciate.

It is very easy to be enticed into investing in the small features that add that bit of personality to the home. Instead when it comes down to choosing where to spend extra money, think about what yourself and others will notice and appreciate the work in, and what will have the most visual impact. A negative detailed skirting is nice, but a lot of people won’t actually notice or appreciate the work in it. They will notice the kitchen bench though! Go with a flatpack kitchen, build it yourself and then spend a bit more on an engineered stone bench top! It’s worth it and they are far more durable.

Taking into account these tips when altering your home will translate to good planning, organising and having the know-how for your home alteration journey. This will ensure the best possible outcome and make it possible to achieve an alteration that works for you and will help turn your dream home into a reality!

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