August 5th, 2016 in

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Top 10 Renovation Tips to get you started

Renovation, also known as remodeling, is the process of improving a home that is outdated or damaged. On the whole, it should be a positive experience as it’s improving the value and appearance of your biggest asset. Unfortunately, more often than not, a renovation doesn’t always go as smoothly as one would hope.

Not only is it dirty, noisy and often expensive, bad weather and unreliable tradespeople can also cause havoc on the building site.

But never fear. By doing some thorough research and planning before the first work tool is picked up you’ll be able to minimise any delays and unnecessary expenses. And best of all, you’ll be able to turn a potentially stressful experience into a valuable, long-term investment.

There are plenty of renovation ideas out there to suit your every need. However, it’s worth considering whether or not your home is worth the money spent on a renovation. It may be just as wise to knock it down and rebuild from scratch, especially if you have dangerous materials throughout like asbestos. This would be a pretty serious decision to make so we suggest you always get a second opinion from experts before starting any work.


Below are some pretty nifty renovation tips to help you through the process.

Renovation Tips to Get You Started



Check the building regulations of your local government area before you begin renovating. Some councils have certain regulations in place that are designed to:

  • Maximise sustainability.
  • Reduce the risk of flood damage and bushfire.
  • Maintain the character of certain suburbs or localities.

Prior research will make the full cost evident before the renovation begins.


Many things can go wrong when renovating and it could mess up even the most finely tuned timetable. Assume that if something is to go wrong, it usually will.

Make contingency plans for wet weather, unavailability of contractors, and if a job takes longer than expected.

And always, always keep some money aside for unexpected surprises. It’s best to not skimp on quality or cut corners.


Keep the next owner in mind with your renovation. Add versatile features and play it safe with neutral colours. You may love red walls but a potential buyer might not. Instead try accessorizing with other items such as cushions, curtains, rugs and furnishings.


Before you start get a valuation from your local real estate agent. Given that renovation is a risky business it’s a good idea to get a handle on what your home is worth prior to starting. Why pay big bucks renovating if you won’t make the money back?

Worse still, if the real estate market is flat you are better holding off until the timing is right.


If you need to get DA’s in to the council do it as soon as possible. The later you leave it, the longer the approval process can take. And if you need to revise your building plans you’ll end up having to get your architect to redo them if they don’t get passed the first time.

Stick to your original renovation ideas and try not to keep altering plans as this also adds extra costs to your budget.



Shop around for fittings both in person and online. You’ll be surprised at what bargains you can pick up by doing your research. Paying in cash is a great way to get further discounts too.

Also some retailers are keen to get rid of end-of-line products or display models so ask them if they have any available for you to see. And don’t be afraid to haggle!


Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find out specific information or the right person for a job. So start chatting with others who have recently renovated and can help you with people they recommend and what features are worth including and which ones aren’t.

If at all possible, avoid choosing the cheapest quote or the earliest available builders, as this could be a red flag for bad workmanship and cutting corners.


Under no circumstances should you ever try doing highly skilled jobs like electrical work or plumbing yourself. It’s not only illegal, but also a false economy to risk your home or your life trying to save a few dollars.

Cut down on costs by finding small, fiddly and time-consuming jobs that you can do yourself, such as dismantling kitchen cabinets, removing carpet or scrapping back paint layers.


If you’re renovating for profit make sure you include your garden too. People love a tidy garden with lots of healthy plants and space to enjoy outdoor living.

Even if gardening isn’t your thing, you can still create an easy to maintain backyard with slow-growing lawn and paved areas. There’s always the option of hiring a landscape gardening company to do the planning and design work for you.

But if you fancy yourself as a bit of a green thumb then choose plants you can propagate yourself to save costs and create a uniform look.


It’s worthwhile going for a walk around your neighbourhood to see what others have done to their properties. Not only will you get some fabulous ideas, you’ll also see what works and what doesn’t.

Try renovating to suit the size and location of the property, as this will boost its resale value. And be mindful of the type of home you have and use that to guide your renovation.


Why Opt For a Renovation?

There are many reasons why a renovation could be the right choice for you.

  • You get to improve the functionality and comfort of your home.
  • It’s not a restrictive process, if you want it can be just cosmetic!
  • You can refit your home with energy efficient fixtures that will save on your energy bills.
  • You can boost the property value quite a bit.
  • You don’t have to spend tons of money on renovations to get a totally new look.


As you can see, renovations are a great way to beautify your home and add value to it at the same time. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started. So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to get planning for your next renovation.

Enjoy your renovation.

All the best,

James Mason

CHECK OUT THIS BLOG POST FOR MORE: 7 Great Renovating for Profit Tips for Success




Online Course Available Now

The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.


Yes, I Want to Know More!

September 4th, 2019 in


Interview with professional mortgage advisers Mandy Taylor and Greg Wilkinson.

Recently I sat down for a coffee with Mandy Taylor and Greg Wilkinson from Smart line mortgage advisers to chat about what it takes to obtain finances for a renovation project. I fired a few questions at them that I thought would be beneficial for first time renovators and owner builders.

But before we jump into the questions let’s learn a little more about Mandy and Greg.

Mandy Taylor

Mandy grew up in Scotland and from her early teens helped her mum in the local building society working with customers to help them buy their first homes.  After moving to Australia in 1991, she has worked with companies such as CBA, St George and Bank of Queensland heading up lending teams throughout the North Shore and Northern Beaches & Greater Sydney Region.

When she’s not working with loan clients, she’s marrying them in her capacity as a marriage celebrant….. one of the few women who marry a number of men each year….to other women!

If she’s lucky to have spare time, it’s spent in the garden, fishing or sharing quiet time with her partner and adult kids.

Greg Wilkinson

Greg has spent all his life in Sydney and grew up in the Ryde area.  Worked for CBA and spent a short stint with Bank of Queensland before becoming a loan writer for another franchisee.  Decided over a year ago to become principal of his own franchise of Smartline Personal Mortgage advisers and has never looked back.

Greg is an avid NRL Bulldog fan (don’t hold that against him).  Loves his cricket, golf and plays recreational baseball with a couple of teams in Sydney. His favourite food is sausages and he reckons a good aussie beef snag covers all 3 food groups every day of the week!

Owner Builder Finances

If an owner builder wants to obtain finances for their construction project here in Australia, is there any particular steps or processes they need to follow to apply for this type of finance?

Preparation….preparation…..preparation and articulation are key!  Before sourcing finance it’s imperative to get informed about the different licenses required from the various government pages.

In terms of lenders and what they may be looking for:

  • A copy of your detailed project.
  • Resume of you and those you intend to employ to help you complete the build.
  • Your building plan with specific costing involved.
  • Estimates and quotes for work to be completed.
  • Timeline of your build (they prefer 12- 18 months max).
  • Extra funds you may have to complete the build if you go over budget.

Few lenders will lend for owner/builders and those that do often may reduce the LVR (loan to value ratio) as low as 50%.  Part of preparation and planning is to speak with a broker to find out the difference ratios for lenders who will lend for owner/builder projects.


What other types of finances and options are available for people who are looking to renovate their home?

Some renovations may not be extensive or require building licenses etc.  Depending on the cost, you may simply need a ‘top up’ on your existing (eg $50,000) home loan which can be done relatively quickly or if a small amount perhaps a personal loan would suit (less than eg $10,000).

If neither the top up or personal loan is enough for you to renovate, then using the equity in your home to access more cash may be the way to go as long as the repayments can be made and other criteria met.  Each loan would be on a case by case basis.

Some lenders will cap the amount of cash out required as well as stipulate maximum LVR.


What advice and tips would you give someone who is obtaining finance for their first renovation project?


  • Speak with a broker and find out first of all the likelihood of being able to obtain the funds and how to go about it.  Whatever the amount is, it’ll help you work out a budget.  Knowing what you’d like to do versus what’s financially possible could impact your plan either way.
  • Plan the renovation and speak to experts well beforehand.
  • Plan the budget and costs, get quotes.
  • Add extra into the budget to allow for the ‘unforeseen’ problems/issues.
  • Depending on the type of renovation, take into consideration the time of year and expected delays – this can often cost more as you may need to employ more people to get job done on time.
  • Research on following links as a starting point to help guide you –


What pitfalls should people be mindful of when obtaining any type of finance?


  • “Do your numbers” and don’t stretch yourself to the maximum leaving you short of cash if something goes wrong.
  • Speak to a broker as they have more lenders to choose from that your local bank, don’t feel ‘stuck’ with your own bank.
  • Speak with a broker who has experience and not just out to make a quick sale at your expense.
  • Whatever you’re obtaining finance for, if you can’t afford it, look at alternatives as the financial stress isn’t worth it, you may need to change your strategy and ideas.
  • Seriously consider life, income and loan insurance.  Most people assume their insured via their superannuation but not necessarily and at the end of the day, bad things happen to good people.  No point being over insured, however to ignore it is working on the ‘hope nothing goes wrong’ basis.
  • Ensure you don’t have to live on bread and water budget over the next 10 – 30yrs in order to get the amount you want – be realistic.
  • NEVER FEEL THAT YOU’RE BEING RUSHED INTO SIGNING UP FOR A LOAN nor that “you’ll get that investment quicker as I can get my ‘loan person’ to sort you out right now.”
  • Stay in control and avoid getting emotionally attached to the ‘item’ you need the loan for.


Do you have any tips & advice for first time renovators?

We cannot stress enough the importance of the following:


Renovation finance advisers


Well there you have it, some great advice from Mandy and Greg, and a big thanks for the time to answer some of my questions guys, much appreciated!

To stay up to date with what Mandy and Greg have going on, please visit – Their Smartline websiteFacebook page or Twitter account.

If you have any questions or stories related to finance please feel free to drop them in the comments section below or contact the guys directly and I’m sure they will be more than happy to help out if they can.

Till next time, happy renovating!

James Mason.




The super-simple, step-by-step process I use in my business to renovate bathrooms fast and on budget.

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