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How to prepare for major renovations to your home.


A major renovation is a massive undertaking – it’s both exciting and stressful at the same time. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or contracting builders to help, there’s a lot to consider and organise – even before the first sledgehammer makes an appearance.


Here’s our guide to getting on top of your renovation from the very start and flying through without a hitch.


Check with the council

If you’re not making additions to your floorplan with an extension, you may not need council approval to begin work. However, it’s always worth checking the local rules and regulations about what you can do, just in case. You don’t want to complete the work only to find it required development approval first – your local council has the right to make you knock down all your hard work if it chooses, or ask you to pay a significant fine for flouting the laws. For instance, councils require period facades to remain intact during terrace house renovations – altering the façade without approval can result in some hefty fines. Garage studio renovations also need council approval in many states.


Decide on a strict budget

Renovations tend to blow out their budgets. No matter how organised you or your builders are, there are always factors you can't estimate or account for in the planning stage. That's why you should always allow extra funds (often as much as 20-50% of the total cost) for those inevitable unforeseen issues – and if they fail to arise, you can be pleasantly surprised (and spend more on that cool leather lounge if you wish). Many choose to take out a renovation loan to cover them should the unexpected happen. If this is your strategy, make sure to give yourself time to negotiate with the bank before you lock in builders and designers.


Secure your most-used possessions

Prepare for domestic mayhem once the builders start work, especially if you've chosen to live in during the renovations. When your home becomes a building site, it can be hard to find all those things you need or use on a daily basis. Plan to pack everything up with plenty of time to spare. Place items you'll regularly need in a secure spot where they're safe from contractors and where you can find them quickly and easily.


Keep curious little fingers and paws away

Kids and pets are not compatible with ongoing construction work. During an ongoing renovation, your home is a constant hazard, and Fluffy, Fido and Fred can also slow down action considerably, extending your costs and timeframe. Loud worksite noises can also spook pets, adding to your stress levels. You might want to think about sending both kids and pets off to a relative's house for the duration of the build.


Clear the decks

Rather than continually shifting furniture and belongings in and out of rooms as building work progresses, consider the peace of mind self-storage facilities can offer. That way you can rest assured there’ll be no costly mishaps for the duration of your renovation.