Whether it involves installing a new kitchen or bathroom, adding an extension or another level or simply opening up a house to the outdoors, it pays to be as informed as possible about the home improvement process. Our handy renovation guide reveals where to start, what to avoid and shares some savvy tips from homeowners who have done it all before.6 ESSENTIAL STEPS TO RENOVATIONS
In conjunction with architectural designer Graham Bull, of Architecture by Graham Bull, we present a step-by-step guide to planning and executing your renovation.1 Seek inspiration.
Use magazines and websites to collect ideas on how you'd like your completed renovation to look.2 Formulate a brief.
Be practical and try to separate the essential elements from things on your wish-list.3 Appoint a designer.
Your design professional, if you choose to use one, must be a licensed building practitioner. An architect (nzia.co.nz
) or architectural designer (adnz.org.nz
) will visit, supply a contract, do a design, provide drawings and documentation and even administer the building process if you prefer not to get too involved.4 Apply for building consent.
Unless the work involved is relatively minor - such as simply replacing old bathroom fittings with new, using existing pipes - an application for building consent must be filed with your local council.5 Appoint a builder.
While your consent is being processed, ask two or three builders (see masterbuilder.org.nz
) to price the job. Check references, confirm that the builder is a licensed building practitioner and ask to see earlier work they have carried out.6 Undergo inspections.
Council building inspectors will check the work as it proceeds in order to ensure it is performed in accordance with the drawings and documents supplied. Once the work is completed and has passed its final inspection, a code-compliance certificate will be issued.
Kitchens, bathrooms and laundries all have distinct storage requirements and renovations offer the chance to get this just right. For each of these rooms, catalogue exactly what needs to be stored and ensure there are sufficient, correctly sized drawers and cupboards for this purpose. Make the best use of awkward corner spaces with specialised hardware and fittings that turn dead space into an extra storage unit and incorporate some well-placed open shelves for display.
Resist the temptation to incorporate every built-in gadget on offer - from steam oven to pizza oven to coffee machine - into your new kitchen. Not only is it expensive, it also adds to the visual clutter. Assess your own specific needs and decide which elements will deliver maximum value and enjoyment. If you're not going to use an appliance at least daily, then question whether it deserves a place in your kitchen.
Often we need to pack a lot into a tiny bathroom and installing full-sized fittings is likely to evoke a cramped feeling. Slim-line showers, narrow vanities, low-profile toilets, compact towel rails, corner basins and wall-hung options are readily available and have been designed with small spaces in mind. Plot out a scale drawing of the floor area on graph paper to arrive at the ideal layout for your room.
FIVE COMMON MISTAKES(and how to avoid them)
Unrealistic budgets are a renovator's nightmare. Once the work has been priced, build in a 10 or 20 per cent contingency margin for unforeseen work - and expect to use it. Structural problems often reveal themselves as work progresses.Knocking out walls willy-nilly
Don't be too quick to demolish walls. Draw scale plans of rooms and the furniture required before deciding which walls stay and which must go. Although open-plan layouts are practical and functional, we're seeing a trend towards retaining one small, atmospheric room to serve as an intimate study/library, TV room or dining room.Hiring cowboys
Great builders - who often have access to great subcontractors such as electricians, plumbers and painters - are always in demand but it's worth waiting for the dream team to become available. You can't be too careful about the people you choose to work on and in your home; word-of-mouth recommendations from friends are invaluable.Choosing fittings too late
If you don't specify which kitchen/bathroom fittings and lighting you'll be using early in the process, your builder and subcontractors will be able to give you only an approximate price for the job. Selecting such items in a timely manner will enable tighter control of the budget.Obliterating character
Think twice before cladding a decorative plaster ceiling or replacing detailed cornices. You may not love the aesthetic associated with the era of your home but these period details are often crucial to creating a sense of design cohesion in the home.