10 Things You Should Consider Before Renovating Your House

Posted on: June 22, 2022


We talk about construction and renovations a lot and for good reason. It’s one of those things that is both really exciting, but also really daunting. Building or constructing something can be a source of great joy, but also, great anxiety and stress.

It all depends on the way in which you approach it, what professionals you have in your corner and how involved you are in the project.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” – Winston Churchill

It’s okay not to have all the answers, you’re not supposed to. That’s why having the right information, upfront can be so important.

So, that is why we put together this list for you, to make you more aware of the things you need to know, going into a construction project, whether it is constructing a new house, from the ground up, or a simple renovation to an existing structure, it doesn’t matter, these tips and tricks will help ease the burden of construction for you.

First things first…

1. Know and understand your budget.

Budgeting is probably one of the most important parts of any construction project, if not the most important. Having a clear budget will allow you to move freely within it. It will allow you to know when you are overspending or where you have a bit of flexibility to splurge on something that you otherwise might not even have considered.

Pricing change frequently due to rising petrol prices and inflation, you can’t build a house or embark on a renovation project, based on prices you obtained 3 years ago, that will literally end up breaking the bank.

Making sure you know what it will cost you, having a tad bit of a buffer for when things don’t go according to plan, and knowing where the money is going, will already solve 90% of your problems when constructing.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” – Benjamin Franklin

Appoint yourself, or someone you trust to take on this project and take control of the finances, set deadlines, and keep everything and everyone on track.

2. Understand the process.

Everybody always wants to go to site, start the earthworks, start pouring concrete or demolish any wall that might be in the way, and although these are all the fun parts of construction, it’s unfortunately not where the process starts, at all.

The process starts at the very beginning.

Where you first get a general idea of what it is that you want to do and what you want to build or construct, then with this idea, you approach both an architect and a structural engineer, these are the two that will bring your vision to life (on paper) and tell you what is and what isn’t possible.

“A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.” – Louis Kahn

From there on you will have to get the necessary approvals from your local municipality, before any construction can start.

Once the approvals are done, then depending on the financing if any, you would be ready to move onto site with your contractors.

The construction will be monitored by the relevant professionals and changes made as and when needed.

Once construction is completed, there will be a sign -off and the final “as-built” plans will have to be submitted to the council for approval.

3. Understand the risks.

As with anything in life, there are risks, there are risks that you need to consider and be aware of. You need to be aware of them so that in the event of any of them occurring, you can be ready and prepared for them.

Always speak to your structural engineer about any potential risks associated with the project beforehand in order to make provisions for them, this can be time or budgetary-related.

“We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.” – John Ruskin

4. Understand who you need.

You need a specific set of skills for specific projects. These you get from specific professionals. Knowing who you need and who you don’t need is imperative in the successful completion of a project.

Having “backyard mechanics” as a part of your team will yield, backyard results. No questions asked. Each and every time.

For a detailed breakdown of the list of professionals you need and why go check out this blog post of ours.

5. Know what you want.

Knowing what you want and having a clear vision of that will save you both time and money. You can plan accordingly and also, your services providers will know the direction in which this project is headed, and any specifics that they need to be aware of or to make provision for.

Knowing what you what will set you and your team of professionals up for success from the get-go. So, make sure that you know what look and feel you are going for from the get-go and communicate that as best you can, either visually or verbally.

6. Be on the same page as your partner or spouse.

They say that many marriages don’t survive renovations, and for good reason. Life is stressful enough without throwing in a homeless or very disrupted twist.

Being on the same page through proper communication with your better half is imperative.

Make sure you have regular meetings about the project, the progress, the deadlines, finances, and anything else that you deem important.

7. Plan for emergencies.

Emergencies will happen. They are a part of life and business, and they are also a part, a big part actually, of construction.

You might consider having a friend or a relative work closely with you on the project, for in case you aren’t available for something, you might consider taking an amount out of the budget and putting it in an emergency-only account, you might consider weekly meetings with your service providers to make sure all emergencies are being avoided, but as and when they arise, your team knows exactly what is happening and how to counter it.

Try making a list before the project starts with all possible emergencies listed out, hypothetical or not.

8. Always have a plan B.

This is very much like the last one on the list, but differs, as it refers to materials. Having a list of alternatives such as alternative tiles, steel suppliers, brick suppliers, etc. can make all the difference.

When there is a shortage of something or if for whatever reason the original item has run out or there isn’t enough, always make sure that you have a backup in place, this will avoid unnecessary costs being incurred and the project being held up due to it.

 “Use the best possible materials, and reveal the quality of those materials and the craftsmanship of their assembly.” – Karl Friedrich Schinkel

9. Agree on what to spend on and what not.

You might think having an R6m walk-in closet is worth it and your spouse or partner, might not necessarily agree with you (btw, we met an architect once who told us of a house he designed, that had an R6m walk-in closet, no jokes).

Knowing, understanding, and agreeing on where the bulk of your funds will be allocated, also makes for a streamlined and efficient project from the get-go.

So, agree on things like finishes and which features are most important to you and allocate the funds accordingly, well in advance.

10. Be okay with things not going 100% according to plan.

As with everything, life happens. It rains in the middle of winter, unless you live in Cape Town, then that’s normal, but here in Gauteng, not so much.

“It is not the beauty of the building you should look at: it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” – David Allen Coe

Or the weather show 1 day’s worth of rain and it ends up raining for a whole month, these are the things that you can not control, no matter how much you fight with your team of professionals or want them to push and do things faster, it’s just not going to happen.

Maybe the bank tells you that there is some or other authorization issue and they simply can release a draw, meaning contractors don’t get paid and possibly go on strike, you will have to deal with this, all of this as a part of the process.

Just know that you will get there eventually.

In conclusion:

Do it. Go for it. Take on that project, decide to build that dream house, or extend the one you currently live in. That’s amazing, but also consider some of the tips and tricks we laid out above.

We call ourselves experts in the field of construction and building and we have helped almost a thousand clients build their dream homes or structures, or renovate old ones, and we would love to do the same for you.

So, if you are considering starting the process, speak to us, we would love to hear all about it, or go and check out our page on how we can possibly help.


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