Today we are catching up with featured renovator Sam Stone. Sam and her husband Matt, daughter Olivia and son Declan are about to tackle a pretty major renovation in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Five Dock.
Sam has been writing about her experience so far over on her blog A Life On Venus, and as I write this they have had their plans finalised and are nervously waiting for their Development Application (DA) to be approved.
Like a lot of people Sam has never tackled a major renovation before, so it’s been great to follow along and see some of the road blocks and obstacles through the eyes of someone with little experience in the field of renovating.
I caught up with Sam to ask a few questions about her experience so far, and this is what she had to say.
When did you first get the idea that you wanted to renovate, and what gave you the inspiration to do so?
A lot of people in our street are renovating and then when our neighbours started renovating and we began to see the massive transformation in their place we decided it was time to make some changes to our place too.
We had also been watching a lot of home makeover shows on TV and saw that it was possible to renovate your home to achieve the space that you want.
What kind of research did you do before you decided to take the plunge on starting the process?
We googled around onto Interior Designer websites and Renovation websites to try to find out what could be achieved in the space we have available. We talked to friends who have renovated to get their ideas and experiences.
What part of the process have you enjoyed the most so far?
The most enjoyable part so far has been working with the architect. He had some really great ideas and some we would never have thought of ourselves.
What has been the most stressful?
Definitely the DA process, waiting and seeing if we will get approval and if not, what do we do!
Given that you are yet to start construction, what if anything are you the most nervous about?
I think the budget is the biggest thing we are nervous about at the moment. How much will it all cost, can we afford it and will we possibly totally blow the budget once construction starts.
I have enjoyed following Sam’s progress so far and I look forward to hearing about what lies ahead in their exciting renovation journey.
I will be checking in with the guys again from time to time, so watch this space and make sure you stay up to date by also following along. We wish Sam and her family all the best with their renovation and hope they have an enjoyable experience.
Have you renovated before? If so how did you find the experience? Leave me a comment below and share your story as we would love to hear about it.
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The cost to renovate your house can range from $20,000 to $300,000 or even more if you are willing to burn cash to ready your home.
Don’t panic the 6 figure, your renovation project might not require that big a budget. In fact, most renovation projects in Australia costs around $100,000 for a 3-bedroom house.
So here is a complete guide to finding the budget for your dream home. If you don’t have a renovation idea in mind, it is still advisable to know the basics first and then find a design that fits in the budget.
Renovation cost per square meter
The renovation cost per square meter will give you an approximated figure on how much you will be spending on your house.
According to industry data, the average cost to renovate a house is between $2,000 to $2,500 per square meter here in Australia. In my experience renovating custom projects, the price can go up to $4,000.
How do I get to this number? Well, I have taken all the financial data from every house I have renovated over the last 20 years and the average from all of my projects is closer to $3,000.
That takes into consideration that most of my renovations were custom designs by architects and usually involved putting a second story on a single-story home and fully refurbishing the existing dwelling.
You can get project home builders that pump out the same design over and over for as low as $1,500 per meter square. But if you are on this site you are most probably not looking for that option.
Now, is calculating the cost per square meter the best way to estimate what your renovation project will cost you? In my opinion the answer is NO!
So, how else to estimate the budget by yourself.
Cost Calculators? Yes, they can be helpful to an extent. But most of them generalize the amount and do not provide options to select every varying factor.
Or you can handpick the elements and rooms to be renovated from the list below and nail the budget.
Interior renovation: Room wise split-up
Do you know the kitchen and bathroom are the most renovated rooms in the house? Not only it has the most potential to be damaged and look outdated over time, it is the most valued areas home buyers look into as part of home evaluation. They are also the most difficult rooms to renovate that requires many different tradesmen.
Kitchen renovation cost: $10,000 to $45,000
This is will factor in the costs of countertops, kitchen appliances, cabinets, and the labour involved in the relocation/re-laying of pipes and electric line.
Bathroom renovation cost: $10,000 to $40,000
The average bathroom renovation expense is around $30,000 for a modern bathroom with bath. Though there isn’t much to buy new, the tiling across the wall and floor, resurfacing the bathtub and many other things bloat the expenses.
Living room renovation cost: $10,000 to $15,000
The most viewed room of any home. Though there isn’t much except furniture, the expenses are directed towards interior design and décor to give a good impression.
Bedroom renovation cost: $2,000 to 25,000
You can do just the paint and flooring for $2,000 or go full on to get a fresh look for $25,000. The price can go up to $35,000 for en-suite bedroom.
Laundry and wash area renovation cost: $15,000 to 20,000
There is not much to choose in this small portion of the house. You can do a luxury laundry renovation for $2,000 more than regular.
Exterior renovation and maintenance is something not many touch unless they are planning to sell the house. But it shouldn’t be the case. You must take care of the exterior paint and garden from time to time.
Exterior painting cost: $10,000
An average-sized, single storey 2/3 bedroom house costs no more than $10,000 for painting the exteriors. If you factor in the recladding and insulation work you might expect a bill around $35,000.
Garden and deck renovation cost: $2,000 to $10,000
Depending on the surface area of the garden and deck you will have an expense lower than 10,000 for landscaping, basic light setup and fencing. For additional elements like an outdoor kitchen, BBQ or bar you might have to go beyond the budget.
Ventilation system cost: $2,000 to $5,000
One of the cheapest in home renovation is the roof ventilation replacement.
Roofing cost: $10,000 to $20,000
The cost of taking down and replacing the roof is going to largely vary with the choice of material. Corrugated Iron Roof is estimated to cost around $15,000.
Some times you do not stop with the house renovation. You might need to add an extra room to accommodate the new member of the family or add a pool. Either way here is the cost involved in home extension projects.
Keep in mind this is going to bounce your budget way more than you think.
Swimming pool installation: starting from $35,000
The starting range of 7.5*4 meter fibreglass pool installation is going to cost you $35,000 without taking into account the cost of covers, decking, landscaping, etc. Concrete pools of the same size cost around $55,000.
Loft conversion cost: $200,000 to $450,000
This one thing is going to cost even more than the whole renovation budget itself. But it is an easy home extension if you need an extra room.
Miscellaneous renovation cost that you must know:
Individual prices of some of the common renovation work carried out in a house is listed so that you can add them in your budget. Please note, these work costs are already added in the room wise price if they are required. If you are looking for doing any of the specific tasks but not the whole room, only then add these costs to your budget list.
Designing: 5% to 20% of project value
The design and planning play a larger part in the pre-construction phase that can not be overlooked. You will most often require an architect or builders help to plan your home renovation. The price ranges from $1200 to $1800 for new builds and house extensions.
License, permits, insurance and other documents:
Contact your local council for more information.
Double glazing cost for the bathroom: $10,000
It can almost reduce the expense by half otherwise spent on buying new joinery.
Asbestos removal cost: $500 to $9,500
An unsafe process handled only by professionals will vary depending on the size of the house.
Rubbish removal: $300 to $2000
Skip bin is a buffer to store the demolished remains and other waste from the construction site that will later be disposed of. Depending on the waste, you need to order a bigger skip bin.
Flooring installation price: $50 to $200 depending on floor type
Carpet installation price: $175 to $750 for installation alone.
Interior house painting: $600 to $3,400 including labour and paint.
Interior decoration: $170 to $320 per hour (decors to be bought separately)
The budgeting doesn’t end here. There are some un-accountable expenses like transportation of materials and then there is the risk factor – unexpected expenses. Every project is different and has its own unique cost factors such as:
Access to the property, is it easy or hard to get materials and trucks into?
Is the renovation just a square box added to the back of the house, or an architectural masterpiece?
Are there any specialised building materials being used?
Are the finishes high end or budget?
Will major structural modifications be made to the existing house?
The above are just a handful of questions that you need to ask yourself before you take the cookie-cutter approach of adding a cost per square meter to your design. Leave a good headroom of 5-10% of the total cost for such expenses to avoid nightmares amidst construction period.
The geography of the house is a varying factor that you need to take account of while budgeting. It reflects in the cost of material and costs involved in licensing and buying permits and most of all labour costs. For example, the kitchen renovation labour costs an average of $50 in Queensland compared to $80 in New South Wales.
So, what is your budget?
Is the number bigger than you anticipated? It is to most of us. The main reason being the numerous renovation TV shows we are used to.
It doesn’t mean renovation shows are false either. Remember they do most of the work by themselves and do not have a profit margin at all. I know you are already thinking about DIY home renovation. But wait.
DIY home renovation: Things to know before you start
Taking responsibility and doing as much work by yourself is the best way to save money and get more involved in your home renovation project. But there are some caveats.
Construction is not easy. You need proper training to do work with the same quality as professionals.
Even with utmost dedication, you need to draw a line. You can’t take responsibility for all of the work. Speciality work like plumbing, electrical and Asbestos removal requires proper licensing along with online courses and training.
You need to spend money and time in the pre-construction phase if you are serious about taking complex DIY renovation work. The money you need to spend on licenses is going to be lesser than that you pay to the professional otherwise. But make sure you have enough time to spend on learning and on the site, especially if you want to be an owner-builder. Owner builder has a responsibility equal to the fulltime job of a building contractor.
With all that set, the risk of falling is higher when you swap out professional workers with yourself. So, have a larger contingency fund. Take proper insurances and be prepared for any mishaps.
My advice is to take DIY work only if you feel so short on funding and have plenty of time in hand.
To wind it up, there is an easy and straight forward way to get an accurate figure or even a ballpark cost before starting your design is to talk with two to three professionals (I.e. Architects or Builders) about what you are proposing to do and take the averages of the estimates to get a starting point.
If you proceed to the next stage of getting your concept plans drawn, this will be enough for you to get tenders on before you move onto the final design, and give you room to scale up or down depending on the estimated costs.
Have you recently been given a square meter price to renovate your home? If so tell us about your experience in the comments section below to start the conversation.
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The average duration for home renovation takes between 4 to 8 months. There are exceptions to this rule when the projects are very small or big in size, but most home renovations will fall somewhere within this timeline.
If you are fully renovating or remodelling your house, chances are it could take up to 6- 8 months or even more if you are adding large spaces with architectural detail. In case of renovating kitchen and bathroom with some minor cosmetic changes then it could be a just matter of few weeks.
James Construction Timeline method: calculating home renovation durations made easy
With more than 20 years of experience in the construction field working in hundreds of construction and renovation projects, here is what I found.
For a full-time builder or project manager, for every $80,000 of work that needs to be performed, a time commitment of 4–6 weeks is required. This does not include any of the upfront pre-commencement work; we will touch on these time frames later. This is called James Construction Timeline Method (named by myself) or simply JCT method.
I.e. if you were looking to spend $150,000, build time could be between 7.5 weeks and 11.25 weeks, or if you are spending $500,000 (Calculate as follows -> 500K -:- 80K = 6.25; (6.25 * 4) weeks to (6.25 * 6 ) weeks = 25 weeks to 37.5 weeks approximately 9 months).
Note: This is not an exact scientific derivation but looking back over the data from my completed projects, I can say it comes pretty close to this figure.
To clarify the above I’m only talking about build time on site, I.e. When you strike your first blow with the hammer to vacuuming the dust off the floor for the last time.
You still have to factor in preliminary work that includes design, planning, getting permits etc.
The preliminary stages for most projects (if done correctly) can and probably should take longer than the construction time on site.
What other time needs to be factored in?
Before you strike your first blow there are 3 critical stages that need to be done before and 1 more stage after it. So, that’s a total of 5 Key stages that all my renovation and builder’s course covers.
These key stages are listed below with some average times for how long each stage may take –
The Research Stage – 2 weeks to 2 months or more.
Plan Stage – 2 months to 6 months or more.
Pre- Construction Stage – 3 months to 6 months.
Construction Stage – Use JCT method to find the time duration for your construction project. ((4 weeks to 6 weeks on average per $80K of building cost).
Project Completion Stage. – 3 months.
If you are reading this article, you are probably in one of the first three stages, more than likely in the initial research stage.
The Research stage
The Research stage is when you have first decided that you want to renovate your property and start to do your homework. You will start by working out what you can afford to spend. Start looking at the style of renovation you want. Search blogs and social media for ideas and inspiration, talk with other people who have renovated and generally start to build an idea in your mind of what you want.
Depending on how much homework you choose to do you could take anywhere from 2weeks to 2months for this stage.
TIP – Keep an organized filing system during your Research Stage where you can store all your information and ideas that you come across. This will help to communicate your ideas in the next stage of the process.
The Plan Stage
Plan Stage. This stage is where you get your ideas out of your head and down on paper in some form of a plan or sketch. So how long should this stage take? well depending on how many revisions you go for your initial concept drawing and the scale of your project it could be anywhere from a few months to six months or more.
I know 6 months might seem so distant. But going back and forth between a drafter or architect and your friends and family is a long process. It took 6 months to get our plans ready for the “Small Space Big Build Project”, and over 12 months in total before we were ready to start on site.
The Pre-Construction Stage
Pre-Construction Stage consists of getting approvals from the relevant authorities. Here in Australia it is referred to as a Development Application (or DA for short). Along with getting your approval granted there is also time required for mapping out the timeline and schedule for your works, organizing trade contractors and material supply quotations and the selections process.
In my opinion, the Pre-Construction Stage is the largest most time-consuming stage out of all the 5 stages. You really need to put a lot of work in to ensure smooth running of the project. In retaliation to timing, t really does come down to how complex your project is. If you are doing a relatively small renovation (i.e $100K) 3 months may get you out of trouble. But for larger projects,6 months’ worth of planning may be closer to what it actually takes.
The project completion stage
Lastly after the Construction Stage is completed the final stage of Project Completion Stage comes. This stage takes into account all the requirements for obtaining final sign off by the relevant authorities. You are required to obtain an occupancy certificate upon completion of the construction works. It is not required for smaller renovations where a DA approval is not required.
There are also warranties and defects liability periods that you should enforce with your tradies and contractors. Some defects liability periods on average are around 3 months after the contractor has completed their work. So, I recommend allowing another 3 months at the end of the renovation to encompass all of the warranties and liability periods.
There you have it. I know it’s a lot of info to take in, but we are only just scratching the surface. Each one of these stages will have its own complexities and special requirements based on your own individual project. It’s my job to try and lay out as much of that information as possible.
I hope this information comes in handy, please feel free to drop any questions in the comments section below.
Until next time, happy renovating.
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