LIGHT HOME MAGAZINE - home renovation guide

We are thrilled to announce that we have been featured on Light Home Magazine! The published article discusses some of the important elements involved in a successful renovation.

“Whether you’re renovating for profit, sale or comfort, successful renovations rely on tried and trusted rules” We asked the experts to reveal all... (Words Victoria Lea & Carlos Martinez)


1. Be clear from the outset - Working out what you want early on, and being very clear about that, can mean the difference between success and failure.

Drenka Andjelic, managing director of project management firm Construction Assignments, believes most people already know what they want – an extra room, a larger kitchen – but they run into trouble in describing how they want it done.

“I find one of the best ways of communicating what it is you want – and that’s really, really simple – is a scrapbook,” Andjelic says. “Find pictures of things you like, pictures of things you don’t like, and then use that simple technique to communicate with pictures rather than just words.”

Of course, what you want, what you can afford and what is achievable are all very different beasts. But once you’ve worked out what is attainable, stick to it.

“It’s really important to know what you want and stick to it, and to be very aware of the fact that if you change your mind along the way it will probably add time and cost to the end target,” Andjelic says. “If you need to compromise, compromise early.”

2. Bring a designer in early - If you’re planning or considering a major renovation you’ll need to meet with an architect or designer and get advice from the outset.

Receiving advice early, believes Ian Agnew, Qld, NSW & ACT general manager of national design and advice service Archicentre, is vital – because it may well be to do nothing.

“It could be to sell the property because you’re going to overcapitalise, or it could be that there are major structural problems that are going to either be insurmountable or require a lot of funds to rectify,” he says.

Another reason to see a designer early on is to add new perspective – after all, there are a number of ways to achieve your intended result. “Do you go up? Do you go out? Do you go down?” asks Agnew. “It’s a matter of working through all the potentials because, while a lot of people think they know what they want and therefore how they’re going to achieve it, what an architect can do is come up with other options.”

Finally, Agnew believes it is only once you start talking to an architect that you can form a view of what can realistically be achieved with your budget. “When you sit down with an architect ... the budget has to be almost the top line,” he says. “Once you start to chunk it down, your planning can then go into the various requirements of the project.”

3. Create a master plan - Keeping to budget is the key to any successful renovation – and the key to doing that is creating a master plan.

“The biggest mistake I see in renovations is [lack of] planning,” Agnew says. “One of the things that ultimately hurts so many renovations in terms of budgets is variations. People get halfway into it and then realise that this or that can’t be achieved. And then they have to do something to rectify that problem.”

Instead, Agnew says that if a build is planned with meticulous detail from the start, once construction begins there should be fewer surprises – on cost, timing and finishes.

“Get that initial planning in place from the very beginning,” he says. “It is far better to be putting costs and estimates against an actual plan than it is just thinking about numbers in free space.”

4. Choose the best team for you - It’s your home and it’s your build, so it’s up to you to create your dream team – and that may not be the team you would first expect.

Rookie renovators often make the mistake of simply taking on tradespeople from vague recommendations or through marketing materials, says Sarah Wood, director of The Middlewoman Services, a Sydney renovation project management and building company.

“People just ask around and say ‘Who was good and who was not?’ That can be okay, but not if the person is not necessarily the right person for the job. When you’re dealing with tradespeople, you need to look at the exact type of work they do,” Wood says.

“The funniest thing is that the person who has the least amount of marketing materials is usually the best; the one that doesn’t have a business card. Because they’re usually the person who has the most word of mouth.”

5. Communicate all the way through - Yes, renovations are about walls and flooring and tiles and paint. But they are also about people. Renovations have the best chance of success when the key people involved communicate well.

“I think the biggest problem in building in general is communication,” says Wood.  While clear, written documentation is an absolute essential (she advises using a triplicate book where you give one to the tradesperson, put one in a file and keep one in the book), so too are good-old-fashioned people skills.

“A couple of my tradespeople have got six children. So they’re 15 minutes late, but to get there they’ve done a hell of a lot of things. If you can greet them with a smiley face, and be really polite and sometimes offer them a cup of tea if they look a bit dishevelled, then that starts off the relationship really, really well.

“Give them a bit of respect and they’ll give you the world. They won’t just give you the next 10 minutes worth of experience – they’ll give you the last 20 years.”

 Renovate for sale; We asked real estate professionals, renovation teachers and interior designers to share their top renovation tips for 2013. This is what they said...

It’s okay to keep it simple

I can talk all day about letterboxes, painting fences, neutral tones and kitchen and bathroom upgrades, but for the average mum and dad that want to simply upgrade and move on, these three tips are the most commonly forgotten:

1 Well-maintained yards and gardens

2 Well-maintained exteriors and interiors

3 A decluttered property

Robert Ferguson Property Consultant, Calibre Real Estate, Queensland


Don’t overcapitalise, and know your area

Remember not to overcapitalise, and ensure you know the demographic of the area you’re renovating in.

For example, if the property you’re renovating is in an area with lots of retired couples, they’re not likely to need many bedrooms. If the area is full of young families however, a baby’s room or pool may be a great addition. (Greville Pabst CEO, WBP Property Group, Australia)


Think like a buyer, grease your elbows and speak to an expert

1 Take a pen and notepad and walk from your driveway through to your back fence. As you go, make a list of the things you would change if you were going to buy the house.

2 First impressions are important but much of it comes down to elbow grease rather than large renovation budgets. So if something just needs a fresh coat of paint then don’t knock it down and start again.

3 Get an agent to come through your home before starting your renovation. They know the market well and can advise on what buyers are looking for.

Julian Conte, Director, hockingstuart Werribee & Melton, Victoria



















Know what your buyers know

My one piece of advice for renovators would be to know the market they are trying to sell to. Get online and look at the properties that are selling in the same price range you’d like to sell your property for. Then all you have to do is put up a similar or better product to get a similar result. (Marcel Dybner, Business Development Manager, Thomson Real Estate, Victoria)


Good paintwork, good garden and neutral colours

1 Make sure the paint job is spot-on: it shows potential buyers that the owners have taken care on the renovation and it is not a slap-dash job.

2 Gardens – many people overlook the garden as part of a renovation but it can be the most cost-effective way to add value to a home.

3 Go for neutral colours. They appeal to the widest range of the market

Simon Wheelans Director, Place West, Brisbane


Use professionals – and paint!

1 Get professional advice before you start any work. This may seem like an extravagance, but a good designer will save you money as well as make you money in a number of ways.

2 Painting a room is still the cheapest option to create the maximum impact. The bolder the colour, the greater the impact.

3 Use professional trades. It won’t matter if you spend a small fortune on the renovation, if the quality of work is not up to standard it just says that everything else in the house is of the same low quality.

Agatha Ozhylovski Creative Director, Agatha O House of Design, South Australia

 Consider your market, do kitchens and bathrooms, and maintain the basics

1 If resale is the end game, take care to do renovations that fit in with the style of the house and area. We sometimes fall into the trap of trying to be unique, but when it comes to selling you need your home to appeal to a wide market.

2 Kitchens and bathrooms add value provided they are done well. The kitchen in particular needs to be well planned as an element in the overall entertainment area of the home.

3 Simple improvements to the street appeal like painting, rendering the exterior of an outdated home, easily maintained landscaping and general home maintenance will stand you in good stead without outlaying a lot of money.

Bernadette Janson Director, The School Of Renovating, Sydney


Focus on the kitchen and bathroom

The two areas that have the most impact on the value of a property when selling are the kitchen and the bathroom. However, these areas are also the two most expensive areas to renovate.

The bathroom is probably the most difficult; you need a plumber, a tiler and an electrician, so that’s three different trades. But people are prepared to pay a premium for renovated kitchens and bathrooms.

From a real estate agent’s point of view, if your property is competing against others, it will certainly have a better chance of getting buyers and offers if these two areas are renovated. (Peter Sarmas, Director, Street News)




A HUGE thank you to Victoria Lea!!!

AGATHA O house of design – interior decoration & design is an award winning interior design Company in Adelaide, South Australia writing about lifestyle and WHAT’S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.



Agatha Ozhylovski is the creative director behind AgathaO House of Design. Agatha infuses art, music, and fashion every step of the way. She believes in a Vogue way of living, working and playing; where design is defined by people, lifestyle and culture.

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