Top tips for tackling your home renovation

Owning your own home is a feeling like no other and part of the Kiwi dream. But sometimes in order to create that dream home, you’ve got to do a little work.

We talked to 5 experienced renovators about what advice they would give for those about to tackle their home reno - here's what they said.

Kelly Evans – Home Scene Journal

Balance is key. Undertaking a renovation can be exhausting for everyone involved, particularly when you add children to the equation. We learnt to balance the renovation process with quality family life as it can get tedious and feel like every weekend is spent renovating. Take a day or a weekend off to head away from the house for a reprieve. There’s nothing like a spending the day together and having fun to feel recharged.

Family affair. Renovating with two young children in tow was going to be challenging - but we knew it was achievable. For children, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience, especially when it involves swinging a hammer through plasterboard and ripping down walls. The key is to set yourself realistic expectations and move at a pace that suits your family. Consider the child’s age and what they can safely carry out. Explain the task and be there to guide them, but allow your kids to have a go and do the job themselves – the sense of accomplishment they gain from this is huge. Take a look at ways children can help here. Do be realistic on the project you’re undertaking. When it’s simply unsafe for children to be on site, we would ask a family member or friend to watch the boys for a few hours.

Document the renovation. When the renovation is complete you’ll want to be able to look back and compare the before and after’s. Our boys love looking through our renovation album, reminiscing on a project they had a hand in. Looking back, they are in awe of how small they were and the renovation jobs they were ‘in charge of’. You can see a real sense of achievement in that moment.

Jessica Britten – Hall We Need

Tempting as it may be, don't rush into anything. Think about how you want the space to function and feel (especially over the seasons as light and lifestyle changes) and really embrace the planning stage. This is where you can save the most time, energy and money - if done right!

Know when to call in the pros and when to DIY. Doing renovation work yourself can be satisfying and can save a lot in the right situation, but it's equally important to know when to call in the professionals. They're often so much faster at getting the job done to a high standard that it's not worth your time.

Express your personality. If your property is a long term personal home, don't be afraid to express your personality and go after the things you've always dreamed of having. Whether it's a giant bathroom, colourful walls, a fireplace or a bar in your lounge. Whatever it may be, add it to a list, then go through the list and prioritise. 

My biggest encouragement when renovating would be to make your home comfortable and functional, because no matter how good it looks if it's not comfortable, it's not a success.

Miranda Osborne – Ico Traders

Do your research. Plan, plan and plan again, but then don’t be afraid to make a change halfway through if it’s going to be an improvement to the original - that’s me all the time, builders love it.

Visualise the spaces first. Think about what the final space will look like during the planning phase. If you are having trouble visualising spaces, use masking tape to define where things will sit, or make yourself some cardboard cutouts.

Trends come and go. Don’t follow fashion too closely when it comes to big ticket items unless you really love it - the bigger the trend, the larger the fall and they can be on the way out quickly. When using trend pieces, I tend to stick to items that can easily be replaced such as a lick of paint, or a change of towels.

Georgina Skinner – Cowshed 488

Take risks. Often the ideas you are most nervous and unsure about turn out to be your favourite parts of the renovation.

Planning. Plan before and try to stick to your plan. If you change half way through the process, the price shoots up.

Budget. Get a quote for everything first before you compiling your budget. This allows you to work out what is essential, what needs space in the budget and what you can put on the side lines until a later date; once you have saved up again. Lastly - double your budget. Always have a buffer for unforeseen issues.

Becs McDonald – Blair McDonald Building

Ugly house, best street. The old adage 'buy the worst house on the best street you can afford' is true. You can make just about anything ugly more beautiful with the right amount of time, energy and budget, but you can't change your location. Our latest live-in villa renovation really was the worst house on our street, but under all those years of decay, neglect and some seriously bad historical renovation decisions, we could see its untapped potential.

Live in your home first. I often tell people to live in their un-renovated property for a while, before they start formally planning their renovations. Often, there is a difference between what you think your house needs and what you learn it needs after living in it for a time. While you are planning, head over to Pinterest and create yourself some moodboards. Taking your time, planning well and having a clear direction right from the beginning of your renovation, it will save you plenty of time and money and it will help keep your design concept cohesive.

Consider resale. It is very easy to get caught up emotionally in the renovation process and want all the beautiful things, but do try to stick to that all important budget. I am a firm believer that good design does not have to come with a huge cost. Having said that, invest the most time and money into those important areas like kitchens and bathrooms. When done well these areas increase the value of your home, they help sell houses and provide the most room for easily increasing the level of specification – for instance showers with tiled areas over acrylic options are always well sought after. The other factor to consider with resale is appealing to the most buyers, when it comes to sale time. Therefore it is often a good idea to steer clear of some of those more out there design trends.

Kelly Evans is a blogger, writer and stylist. Kelly shares stories on clever people and great design on her website, thehomescene.nzClick here to read more from Kelly.

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