1. Your Budget
You really need to be clear about what you can afford before you start any major work.
There is nothing more disappointing –and, ultimately, expensive – than planning a dream bathroom, extension or even a small update and then discovering that you can’t afford what you want. Talk to your bank or lending authority before you start so you can be realistic about your plans.
If budget is an issue, then you can make some decisions – sometimes you can save on fixtures or fittings (“do you really need those French doors?”), sometimes you can reduce the scale of the project. Some homeowners decide to stage their renovations and improvements when budget is an issue – you can always add another bathroom or bedroom later on down the track when finances improve.
2. Your local area
Take a walk around your local neighbourhood before you start planning.
It is important not to over-capitalise, or build something out of keeping with its surroundings. Sure, you might want a tiny architectural gem, but if your neighbours are all building four/five bedroom McMansions with two living areas and double garages, you will struggle to get council approval and, ultimately, have difficulty selling the finished property if you want to move on down the track.
3. Your style
Not sure of what you want? Start searching the internet or magazines for homes and rooms you like.
Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration. Copy, tear out, or pin your favourites and pretty soon you will notice a trend and a uniting factor to help you understand what you are looking for in your new home.
Sometimes it’s about a colour palette, sometimes it’s the style of home you like. Walk around your neighbourhood and take photos of homes you admire. Visit project home villages and open houses of homes for sale locally. Architects and building companies often have websites with examples of some of their work, which might also inspire you.
The Monier website is also a great source of inspiration and ideas. Take a look at our gallery of homes and roofing styles, which will help to give you ideas of what style of roof would suit your aesthetic. Black slimline roofs are still incredibly popular, but take a look at some of the other options too – you will be surprised by the variety on offer.
4. Your wish list
This is where you can dream a little. Think about how you and your family would like to live in the future.
If you can’t afford everything you have dreamt about, you might be able to make provision for a renovation in the future. As the project develops you might find some spare cash, or you could save up for an update in a few years, where you can really get the bath/built-in wardrobes/attic space you dreamt of.
5. Your must-haves
As the countdown to getting plans drawn gets closer, it’s a good idea to think about what your baseline needs are.
Do you really need four bedrooms? Are two bathrooms enough? If you aren’t really big cooks, how important is the size of the kitchen – and the appliances? Are you happy to buy small shrubs and let them grow, or do you want established plants?
It is important not to compromise on quality when choosing your basic fittings – go for the best roofing, flooring and structural materials that you can afford. Accessories, internal fittings and furniture can always be updated later. Changing structural elements is costly.
6. The details
Good, detailed plans are a must before you talk to a builder – the more information you have, the more accurate the quote will be.
Consider getting an architect if you can, they may be more affordable than you think.
Otherwise, use a good architectural draftsperson. The better and more accurate the plans are, the more time you will save. Most cost blowouts are a result of the plans changing along the line. It’s better to spend more time getting it right in the first place.
Once you have detailed plans, it’s a good idea to send it to at least two builders, preferably three, so you can get quotes on the job and their opinions on how long the work will take. Always keep aside some money for contingencies such as weather delays, changes in specifications, council restrictions etc.
7. How you like to work
Are you an experienced home owner or renovator? Or a total novice?
If you have a background in building, or lots of experience with previous homes, you might want to project manage the build yourself. But, be aware that it’s a lot more tricky than it looks. If you have never built a house, or done a big renovation previously, you should consider getting someone to oversee the process for you. This could be an architect, interior designer, or a managing builder, depending on your preference.
Choose wisely – you need someone who understands what you are looking for in your new home as well as someone who will respect your decisions. After all, it’s going to be you and your family who will live in the final product. This is not a showpiece, it will be your home.