5 expensive mistakes people make when renovating

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Building & renovating is one of the biggest investments you are likely to make and there is too much at stake for you to get it wrong.  Unfortunately too often the dream of a new home turns into a stressful and expensive nightmare.  Renovations are particularly fraught with danger and it isn’t hard to find people with a horror story to tell.  The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Cost control and the prevention of budget blowouts start from the very beginning. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.

1. Selecting the wrong designer or architect. Draftsperson, building designer or architect…?  Either of these might be the right choice for your project, however making the wrong decision can significantly increase the chances of your project getting off track from the beginning.  Take the time to ensure that the person you select has a proven track record of completing projects with a similar brief and budget to yours and make a point of reinforcing your budget, especially if it is modest.

2. Poor quality documentation. Your plans are like a map for the various trades that will work on your project.  They show the destination that everyone on your project team is working towards, and the more detailed they are, the more likely you are to reach your destination on time and on budget.  In short, high-quality drawings and documentation mean your project can get completed with as few hiccups as possible.  This may mean that you will need to pay a little more for design services, however high quality documentation can save you thousands when compared to the costs of dealing with errors, oversights and variations.

3. Not getting thorough quotes. Builders need more than just a set of plans to quote from.  Too often builders are expected to make assumptions and guesses because they are quoting from insufficient information.  There are dozens of critical pieces of information that are not shown on plans and which a builder needs to be able to prepare a thorough and accurate quote; like wardrobe fit-out, kitchen appliances, bathroom fittings and more. The best way to supply this to builders is by preparing an Inclusions Schedule or Specification.  Your designer may be able to do this for you at an additional cost, or you can prepare one yourself by using the ProSpex tool on www.buildingquote.com.au.  Only by providing an Inclusions Specification can you ensure that your quotes are thorough, accurate and easily comparable.

4. Not understanding builders quotes. Quotes from builders will rarely be laid out the same way, which can make the process of comparing quotes a bit daunting and sometimes completely impossible.  One of the most important things to understand is the way Prime Costs (PC’s) and Provisional Sums (PS’s) are used. PC’s are allowances for the supply of items only, like kitchen appliances and bathroom fittings.  PS’s are allowances for the completion of a task and therefore include the supply of the material and labour to complete the task. The most important thing to understand is that both PC’s and PS’s are allowances only and are therefore subject to change depending on the final cost of the item or task.  It is important that these allowances are accurate and realistic so that additional costs and variations can be avoided.

5. Selecting the wrong builder. Too often people will select a builder who has substantially under quoted other builders.  That decision alone increases the likelihood of experiencing budget blowouts and a strained relationship with the builder more than any other factor I have known.  When comparing quotes and selecting a builder always look for a grouping of prices to indicate what the real cost to complete the project is.  If one builder is quoting significantly less than a group of builders be very careful before you engage that builder.  It is likely that the builder has made an error in their quote and when the error is realised the builder is more likely to either start taking shortcuts or look for ways to on charge variations to recoup their losses.  Neither of these bode well for the successful and happy completion of the project.

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