Opening Up the Renovation Conversation

I was asked to start a blog about building and renovation as I run my own business within the construction industry together with my husband. My background is not in Construction originally. I came into the business five years ago from a change, communication and resource management background within the Information Technology field. I decided to leave my corporate career because I was struggling with infertility and made the decision to concentrate on having a child and to start the journey through endless cycles of IVF treatment. The chance to work from home has given me the opportunity to have a beautiful boy.

When I entered the business I realised that in construction things don’t work the same way as it does in the corporate world. After a steep learning curve and lots of research bringing my skills and knowledge into the business, I have reorganised operations and implemented policies and procedures that would give our business the required leading edge over most of the other construction businesses in the market.

What was missing mostly in this industry from my perspective was a well-developed communication plan with clients. The average person wanting to build or renovate does not have the technical knowledge to have a deep understanding in regards to the whole process, and the builders usually do not have the tools to communicate or educate their clients. Working in the background for our business for the past five years, I’m hoping to bring you some insight into the renovation industry and hopefully give you the ability to avoid some major pitfalls. Through a number of articles I hope to give you the tools to comfortably start your project.

Now there are already several excellent guides out there to provide you with the obvious and basic information and I’m happy to provide those resources. It’s where I would begin if I just started to think about renovating or building my place. A must read for everyone is “The Consumer Building Guide”

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Tradespeople/Building_industry_essentials/Consumer_building_guide.page

You will also find useful information on the Housing Industry Association site:

http://hia.com.au/Membership/memberNetwork/KitchensBathroomsProfessionals/guidesManuals.aspx

In this blog, however, I wanted to write about actual scenarios and common misconceptions in order to give you additional understanding from a female perspective. Each time I will cover a specific area for my audience and over time you will be more equipped to ask the right questions and to be able to provide better in formation to your builder and hopefully avoid those common but not often talked about pitfalls.

Once you have already read all the guidelines and documents from Department of Fair Trading,) and made sure that your builder holds the correct licenses, Home Warranty Insurance policies etc, the real fun begins.

color-swatches-and-plans_zyC1f0vuYou might have dreamt up your ultimate bathroom or kitchen and went to your builder or even got a designer to draw up your dream, BUT make sure you listen to your builder’s suggestions also as he/she is the one who actually has the practical knowledge in terms of what works for your space and structure.

Sometimes what you dream up does not actually work. It’s not practical or it over capitalises on the property or just not functional, or it looks good on paper but will not look good in real life.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with industry standards. For example, a big part of bathroom renovation are waterproofing and tiling. You should always be provided with a waterproofing certificate.

In terms of tiling, it’s important for you to understand what the industry accepted variance can be in terms how the tiles need to line up. What is considered acceptable workmanship by the Department of Fair Trading may not be the standard you are after. Now many women I know are sticklers for perfection so make sure your Builder clearly understands what you are after. Bring the issue of the grouting variance up early and ask what they usually work with so that you do not get a nasty surprise at the end when it is all too late.

It is important to consider where taps and fixtures will go; you do not want your tap to be in an awkward spot for the shower or the bath so talk to your builder early on about ergonomics!

If you are planning to completely re configure your bathroom and need to move the waste etc. you need to understand that this sort of work will push the price up significantly so renovate appropriate to your situation (do not overcapitalise if it is an investment)

For the renovation to go smoothly and within project timeline you need to ensure that you have picked appropriate P.C. items and they are all available and ready to be delivered on time. Always have spare tiles available as at times tiles need to be cut. You do not want to find yourself in the situation that you do not have enough tiles (especially if you decided to order them from Italy for example). Your whole project could be pushed out significantly. Decide early o what shower screen your after as the choices are endless (frameless, with frame, walk in etc.). Have you considered light fittings, switches and power boards, make sure you discuss options with your builder in advance?

Ask your builder to point out where he thinks the pipes are located, you do not want one of the tradesman to hit a pipe and flood you or the unit below (a very common occurrence)

Have a detailed meeting with your builder pre renovation to go through the plan, the timeline, and ensure that the builder and you are on the same page in terms of finishes. Share any information in regards to strata laws if you are in an apartment block and ensure you have the appropriate approvals.

Finally make sure that you builder has a proper project plant, ask for this in advance. Ask to be updated on a daily basis in regards to what should be completed and measure what has actually been done.

Zsanett Kalush, 40-year-old mother of a two-year-old boy, living in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. www.instilerenovations.com.au
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