10 things to consider when starting your renovation

How to beat product shortages, unstable pricing and supply chain problems in your home reno

If you’re thinking about making some changes to your home, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to navigate the long lead times and constant price increases you keep reading about. Ultimately, it all comes down to careful planning – which is the 101 of any home renovation, global pandemic or not.

Some of the choices you make in relation to materials and design can have a flow-on effect to construction, never mind the supply chain problems we’re already navigating. Here are 10 decisions you might want to think about if you’re planning to start a renovation this year.

1 Finishing lines

Although standard profiles of skirting and scotia are easy to source, custom profiles are not. If your home has a mismatch of trims, you’ll need to decide ahead of time if you’re going to replace any to match. Depending on the decision, your builder may need to measure up (off the plans) and place an order before walls are built – particularly if you’re trying to match existing heritage finishing lines that can’t be sourced off-the-shelf.

2 Lighting layouts

Although the exact fittings and locations don’t need to be confirmed early (subject to lead times), their approximate locations should be. This knowledge enables the electrician to run cabling in the walls and ceiling cavity to the general location and with a bit of extra slack in case the location shifts more than a few centimetres. Given how sought after subcontractors are at the moment, the last thing you want to do is to mess your sparky around after they’ve moved on to another project, so try to have a plan ready for them to work off when they come to site.

3 Plumbing fittings

Different fittings have different requirements. The location of your shower or bath drain, whether your toilet is plumbed through the wall or floor, and the position of your basin water supply and waste are all determined by their specific fittings. The bonus of making these decisions early is that you might be able to secure a package deal if purchasing everything from one supplier. Be mindful of anything that triggers building consent (like adding a second toilet) as this will add a few months to your project timeline, not to mention additional cost.

4 Flooring

Floor finishes can have an impact on your project in several ways. Depending on how specialised they
are and where they’re coming from, the lead time for your floor finishes can be longer than your construction period. Ordering early can ensure they arrive on time.

All floor finishes come in different thicknesses as well, so if they’re sitting adjacent to one another, (going from a carpeted bedroom to a tiled ensuite), you’ll either need to make allowances for floor levelling or accept the step.

Allowances could mean levelling compound to bring it up, or it could mean cutting down the sub-floor.
Both of these strategies cost money, and the former requires pre-planning for construction.

Ever tried to open a door and have it drag on the carpet? By knowing your floor finishes upfront, your door frames can be installed at the right height to avoid this – otherwise you’ll need to skim the door later.

5 Windows

You’ll need to include the size and location of new windows in your documentation, especially if the project requires a building consent. The supplier will also need to be notified of the programme so they can book you into their manufacturing schedule. Otherwise, if you wait until you’re ready for site measures to let them know, they may not be delivered on time. All manufacturers are under immense pressure to keep up with the construction boom, so if you don’t place your window orders early, you risk holding up construction on site.

6 Window coverings

Choosing your finish, fabric, and style early is a necessity. Much like floor finishes and windows, lead times for the material, as well as booking the manufacturing, could delay your project so it pays to book ahead of time. Be prepared for the risk of needing to change your fabric selection too, in case of a sourcing issue arising. Have a second choice ready to go.

7 Custom anything

The benefit of off-the-shelf is just that – it’s off the shelf. Bespoke items, however, can take time to be designed, have materials sourced, and made – often by hand. Think custom joinery for your kitchen or bathroom. The flipside of this, in this current climate, is that if the off-the-shelf item is out of stock, it may well be quicker to have something bespoke fabricated locally to expedite the reno.

8 Utilities

For those who are building new or renovating a house before living in it, you may need to submit applications for water and power accounts so your tradies have services to connect to during the construction process.

In a subdivision scenario where a new water meter and pillar-box for power is required, the lead time can be literally months, and ideally both will be connected when the build commences so
don’t forget.

Similarly, getting your ONT (Optical Network Terminal) installed so your internet service provider can connect to it and power up your wifi can be a painfully long process. Book it early – it’s better to need to reschedule than move in without internet. Imagine!

9 Made-to-measure

As with custom products, anything that requires a site measure (structural steel, kitchen joinery, bifold doors) will need to be booked in advance to secure the spot, even if the timing is indicative only. If you’re working with a builder, then it’s likely their responsibility to arrange this, but a good DIY project manager would check that they have been done.

10 Power outlets

Much like the lighting layout, you need to have an idea of where and how many power outlets you’ll require early on, to enable cabling through the wall framing before plasterboard linings are installed. You’ll never wish you had fewer power points, so don’t hold back when completing your layout.

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