Renovation Guide Part 1: Decisions, Decisions!

We’ve consulted the experts for our three-part guide on how to renovate like a professional


Most of us think our homes could benefit from a renovation, either modest in scale or monumental. No matter the scope, success lies in smart planning. Our three-part renovation guide will arm you with all the information you need to master a successful renovation of any size.


There are many reasons to renovate:

✔ You’ve outgrown your house but love it too much to leave and are keen to remodel

✔ You’d love to move but property prices mean the best option is making your current home work for you

✔ A new addition or growing family mean you need more space

✔ You can’t bear one more day of living with that orange Formica benchtop

✔ You want to change one or two rooms to reflect how you and your family live

✔ You simply want to make your stamp on your home and inject some personality We’ll warn you now: renovations of any scope, from a room makeover to an entire house overhaul, can be stressful and time-consuming. But a good renovation can be life-changing. The key to success is preparation and planning. Start with the questions you need to ask yourself…

What is the purpose of your renovation? “Be clear about why you are renovating before you start and it will provide clarity on all your decisions,” says designer Lizzi Hines of Spaceworks and Room By Room. For every decision you make, think back to the reason for renovating – it will keep you accountable and stop you from over- capitalising. Deciding on your purpose also helps you define the scope. Doing up to sell generally entails freshening up here and there; if you’re renovating to accommodate children, you’re possibly in for a mega job that touches every room and beyond; a reno to last you the next five years will be somewhere in the middle.

Do you really need to renovate, and right now? Renovating is costly and inconvenient and sometimes downright stressful, so before you jump in, consider whether the expense and disruption is justified. Decide whether now is really the best time – will the season impact your time frame? Would it be easier to wait until your youngest child is a little older? Do you have a busy social calendar or workload ahead? If your house needs a great deal of work, take a step back and decide whether you want to go to the trouble and expense. It may be better to sell and buy something more suited to your needs.

How long are you planning on staying? It’s common for homeowners to do up their home, enjoy it for a few years and then sell. Lizzi says to be aware that decor styles change about every five years, so big investments in style are more about keeping you happy for the next five years than adding value to your property. Contractors call it “stylistic depreciation”. If you intend on staying in the home longer and want to add value by renovating, Lizzi suggests concentrating on the following:

✔ Add extra space to accommodate an expanding or growing family, or to simply add a sense of space.

✔ Add rooms for special purposes, such as an office or games room.

✔ Change the configuration of the house for better flow, ease of use or orientation to sun and views.

✔ Update and remodel to give the house a fresher, more modern look. This could involve major changes such as removing walls to enlarge a room, putting in a new kitchen, adding a walk-in wardrobe or installing new wall boards and ceilings.

✔ Restore the house to its original style, while adding modern features in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom.

✔ Improve indoor/outdoor flow with an outdoor room, sympathetic landscaping or hard features such as retaining walls, a garden shed or swimming pool.

✔ To increase your return on investment: create street appeal, including replacing exterior cladding past its best, adding, repairing or improving fencing, and adding an outside deck; replace windows that have gaps and aren’t weather tight. These make your home inefficient in terms of retaining heat. Replace with double glazing or change the glass if it is the old annealed type; remodel the kitchen and bathroom; add insulation; add a decent sized extra bedroom.

Read related articles:

Renovation Guide Part 1: Costs & Budgeting
Renovation Guide Part 1: Planning
Renovation Guide Part 1: Professional help


Words by: Debbi Harrison and Lizzi Hines of Spaceworks and Room by Room
Illustrations by: Samantha Totty


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