: How to financially and emotionally prepare for a renovation

Aussies are renovation obsessed. But how do you make sure that your renovation stays on time and on budget. And should you even take on a renovation at all?

If you think renovation is an easy way to build equity in your property, there are important questions you should ask yourself first. Below, I chat with about my renovation golden rules to help you financially and emotionally prepare for what can be a very stressful experience.

How to financially and emotionally prepare for a renovation.

By Nicole Madigan,, October 21, 2020

Television shows such as The Block can make renovating look easy, but when it comes to costs — financial and emotional — there’s much to consider before taking the leap.

“Financial and mental aspects are very much interlinked when it comes to renovations,” says PRD Real Estate chief economist Diaswati Mardiasmo. “They go hand in hand.”

“There will always be some sort of financial and mental stress in renovations, it is inevitable, however thorough research and preparation can mitigate this to a certain extent.”

Dr Mardiasmo says renovators need to prepare themselves for extra costs, time delays, unexpected paperwork and hurdles that usually require immediate solutions.

Your ability to jump those hurdles, will depend on how prepared you are. According to Dr Mardiasmo, research and preparation are key. “Intensive, deep-dive research can mitigate these issues to some extent.”

SCROLL DOWN for my advice on the questions you should ask yourself if you’re planning a structural or cosmetic renovation.


Time delays and budget blowouts are just some of the stress inducing aspects any renovation project.

While there are many factors to consider before deciding whether to embark on a renovation process, according to senior interior designer at SJS Interior Shilpa Mohan cost is the most important.

You want to ensure you spend enough money to attain your desired outcome, without overcapitalising on your property,” says Ms Mohan.

“Try and do some research on recently sold properties in your area that have undergone a renovation and to see what price they sold for.”

You should also consider whether you intend, or need, to live in the property during the renovation.
“Keep in mind that if you engage a builder, they usually move a lot quicker if you don’t live at the property,” says Ms Mohan.

But living elsewhere might cost you extra if you have to rent another property.
To avoid financial and emotional shocks, it’s important to start preparing for a renovation months in advance.

“The timeline really depends on the amount of work you are doing and whether you need any approvals,” says Ms Mohan.

“You should be thinking about the design process, the time for approvals to be finalised and lead times on materials, furniture, fixtures or fittings that you need to source for your renovation.

“You should also be prepared for it to be a long and emotional process.

“Renovations aren’t always easy, so be mentally prepared for it by planning adequately beforehand.”

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If it’s cheaper to service a mortgage on your home than to rent it, you’re paying too much.

How to financially prepare for a renovation:

Renovations can be classified as cosmetic, code-assessable and structural, according to property developer Ian Ugarte, of Small Is The New Big.

Cosmetic renovations involve minor changes like repainting or refinishing floors, and usually don’t require approval. Code-assessable renovations may involve removing internal walls or changing layouts, and may require sign-off from a private certifier. Structural renovations involve expanding the floorspace of a home upwards or outwards, and need council approval.

When considering a code-assessable or structural renovation, Mr Ugarte says you should first ask yourself some key questions.

“What am I trying to achieve with this renovation? Am I trying to add value to my property to sell, or just create a more beautiful home in which to live? If I’m trying to add value, does it measure up?

“Ideally, a renovation should increase the value of the property by 1.5 times the amount you’re spending.”

Next, ask yourself how much you have available to spend on a renovation.

“Will you need to dip into the equity in your property, if possible, to fund the renovation? Have you allowed for additional costs, like the costs of going through the planning process, if you’re considering a full structural renovation?”

Another factor that must be taken into account is the potential for the building costs to blow out through “variations” to the scope of works.

“To avoid this, it’s advisable to not only compare at least three quotes for the renovation plans, it’s also advisable to get another builder, tradesperson or building professional to cast their eye over the quote/s to ensure it’s a realistic reflection of the costs involved to carry out the renovation,” Mr Ugarte said.

“That way, when you lock in a price, you’re more likely to be able to avoid any changes in price from unexpected variations.”

Renovating your bathroom? CLICK HERE for my complete Bathroom Renovation Guide.


Bathrooms can be the most costly room in the hoem to renovate. be sure to have a detailed Scope of Works before commencing.
How to emotionally prepare for a renovation:

When considering a renovation, you also need to prepare mentally for the challenges this presents, such as the level of inconvenience or disruption and if you will find it sustainable.

“For example, if your renovations don’t require you to move out, you will need to be prepared to live in clutter, mess and chaos,” Mr Ugarte said.

“Likewise, you may need to rely on neighbours and friends for access to bathroom facilities, or even use a temporary on-site toilet.”

Scheduling delays and cost blowouts can also cause stress and frustration.

“To avoid derailing, try to manage your expectations and anticipate that everything won’t just go to plan.

“Remember, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

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