How to avoid costly renovation mistakes

Every home renovator will be able to share with you a horror story of how a renovation went wrong and the impact these mistakes had on their budget and timeframe.

Renovation mistakes are common, but they’re not necessarily made by the tradies onsite. Often they happen due to inexperience, a lack of communication or unrealistic expectations. Here's a list of ways to help avoid common renovation mistakes:

1. Use an experienced project manager

Many home renovators will opt to ‘save money’ by project managing their renovation from start to finish. Unfortunately this will cost time and money because project managing a renovation is not as easy as some think. Experienced project managers will save money because they know when to schedule tradies accordingly and their experience gives them insight into ensuring the renovation is completed within the necessary time frame. Variations are a common part of renovating, but they increase when an inexperienced project manager runs the renovation.  The builder contracted to do the renovation is the best project manager for the job because they are onsite, they’re experienced and they have the skillset and knowledge to prevent issues arising onsite.

2. Budget accordingly and control over spending

The biggest renovation mistake is blowing the budget – we see it all the time on reality reno shows. A budget needs to be put in place before any quotes or renovations start on the property. Ensure there is enough money for unexpected expenses like asbestos removal or replacements of studs if they’ve rotted away from termites or moisture. Ensure the quotes meet your budget before a contract is signed and before works start because you don’t want to run out of money halfway through your renovation.

3. Do your research

Know what you want before meeting with architects and builders to get plans drawn up. Magazines, blogs, Pinterest and Instagram can offer inspiration for how you want your property to look. Once you have an idea of what you want, this can be communicated to the architect and/or builder to ensure you get what you want. If you’re organising a major renovation by adding bathrooms or changing the configuration of your house, have a meeting with the relevant trades to ensure your design will work with the existing layout of the services on your property. You may choose to have a bathroom installed at the opposite end of a house where the existing bathroom is. A plumber will be able to look at the existing drainage plans and give an idea if the new bathroom location will work with the existing location of services on site.

4. Use licensed professionals

This may seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people find it tempting to use a cheaper tradie when renovating to a tight budget. Use a licensed professional. Not only is it the law, but there are no guarantees on the quality of the work produced and in most circumstances, it will cost you more to fix. Use recommended tradies by asking friends and family for reputable professionals that can assist with your renovation.

5. Get enough quotes

Get a minimum of 4 quotes for a major renovation and go with the middle quote. While it may be tempting to go with the lowest price, compare the quotes and ensure they are quoting apples for apples. The margin of difference in quotes should be minimal. If there are big gaps in the prices, find out why. It could be something as simple as the plumber quoting to install plastic pipe instead of copper pipe.

6. Don’t overcapitalise

It’s important to work out exactly what will happen to the property once the renovation is completed. Is the renovation to update the property so it can be sold, or will it be a longstanding family home? If you’re wanting to sell the property after it’s renovated, don’t install a state of the art toilet suite for $5,000. You won’t recoup your costs. Choose middle of the range fixtures and don’t go overboard with features.

Renovating a home is an exciting challenge, but it can also be stressful too. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid many of the mistakes that can add thousands of dollars to a renovating budget. 


Guest Blogger Bec Senyard believes a girl can be both practical and stylish at the same time. Bec writes two blogs: The Plumbette , which is her foot in the construction pie, sharing plumbing tips and lifestyle memoirs and Styled by Bec, which offers fashion advice for busy mums who are after budget-friendly tips.

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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