Common Pain Points for Renovations, Rebuilds, and Redesigns

Everyone sets out with the best intentions, before breaking ground, when they decide to make some changes to their sanctuary. Unfortunately renovations, rebuilds and redesigns are like life – anything can happen, and the smallest disruption often has a domino effect.

Then there’s the unspoken yet widely documented connection between home renovations and relationship breakdowns, so it’s critical that before you get into it, you are aware of the most common things that can go wrong, and be prepared with a mindset of realistic expectations, and possible solutions.

You also need to consider the objective of what you are undertaking, be it renovation, redesign or rebuild. Getting that right means you’re halfway there.


These should typically be undertaken if the floor plan works, and you love your home – it just needs a refresh. Reno’s can address updating kitchens and bathrooms, fittings and finishes, and changing up a few problem areas to offer better functionality, for less than a remodel, extension or rebuild.

One renovation mistake is not considering what your family or lifestyle will look like in 5, 10 or 20 years – if you think you’ll outgrow the space, renovating with resale value in mind can be the best approach. Talking to a local estate agent is a great approach.

Redesigns (or Remodels)

If you are still in love with your home, and the locale, and your family and lifestyle are outgrowing the space, a redesign, remodel or a home extension can work. It can allow you to stay in the home you loved in the first place, and improve the liveability for your growing family.

One of the challenges you may face is getting the mix right – adding a contemporary extension to what may be a period home can be tricky. Then there’s dealing with old plumbing, electricals and structural elements of the existing home. Consider also, will an extension or addition consume valuable outdoor space?


If you love your neighbourhood, and changing up your current living space won’t work, rebuilding can work. Cost is the main consideration, overcapitalising can be an issue, so doing some homework. Talking to an expert about the long term financial viability of the project is a must, because selling up and buying another place in many cases can be a better solution.

However, the upside is that once you’ve decided to stay and rebuild, you have the freedom to design and build the home of your dreams, in the street that you love.

The Biggest Challenges

Development Applications and Paperwork

Don’t speculate about the permissions you need. Most extensions, rebuilds and some reno’s need a development assessment and/or application.

Talk to your local council or a consultant about exactly what you need for the entire scope of the project, and get your submissions prepared and in-line as required.

Even if you are engaging a project manager, you need to stay on top of paperwork, costs and timelines, including making sure your insurances, invoices, contracts and other documents are in place, safe and organised. Keeping a diary can assist with keeping problems in check, and managing your own expectations, control and stress levels.

The Timeline

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

When there’s dust everywhere, and tradies, designers and whoever else are part of the equation traipsing through your space it can feel like an eternity, so you have to just accept that major renovations, rebuilds and redesigns take a long time. Living somewhere else and getting out of the way can alleviate the pain.

When planning your project timeline it will be with your contractor, builder or designer, and they’ll help you understand the scope of the job, depending on what the objective is. They can also help you factor in delays such as weather, delayed supplies, and other variables that may be relevant.

Taking your time to get the planning right is critical, because one of the most common mistakes is changes in the middle of the project.

The Budget

One of the biggest issues is not having enough money to complete the project. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg, as the finances go hand-in-hand with the planning. Outside that, things can still falter financially.

Poor management and planning of resources and personnel, incorrect quotes, overspending, building mistakes, human error and unexpected surprises (like opening a wall and realising wiring needs replacing) can come into play.

Work with reputable builders and designers who work with reputable teams. Check out their portfolio, get recommendations and make sure they are the team for your project who have proven successes with what you are trying to achieve. Check that all of the quotes for materials and labour are included in the final estimate, and while many builders or designers will offer project management services, confirm that is so, as sourcing an external PM can be costly.

Cutting Corners

When investing big money in reno’s, redesigns and rebuilds, and something occurs that affects the budget, it can be easy to succumb to pressure and sacrifice quality elsewhere.

When you have to look at swapping things out, remember that good quality materials enhance the life-span of the home, and can save money in the long run. Consider sustainability, the environment, durability and structural integrity before cutting corners.

In some cases you don’t have to sacrifice those factors in the name of costs. Think recycling materials, great fixtures and valuable assets to compensate. Concentrate on the main objectives including safety and structural importance, outside of the small stuff.

Lighting and Windows

So many people make mistakes in this area, and it’s critical for the mood, energy and environmental feel of the home.

From the position of windows and lights, to the fittings, and trimmings and treatments (think thermal protection), they also have a direct impact on energy costs.

The Other Stuff

Okay so there’s really no small stuff, as everything comes together to make the house a home, and while the following points aren’t as critical to the safety and integrity of the home, they are some of the things I recommend to clients for consideration:

  • Don’t impulse buy.
  • Focus on elements that aren’t only cosmetic and add long-term value, such as storage. And ask yourself, is that expensive wall treatment the best option if you have to skimp on flooring?
  • Wait to buy the perfect appliances and furniture etc, until the project has moved along far enough to ensure the correct measurements, and aesthetics or cohesion.
  • The same can be said for flooring. While it’s good practice to have ‘extra’, your estimates will be more accurate when the build or remodel is underway.
  • Think about the time you are undertaking your project – is there a better time of year for builder availability and resource costs?

Stay Flexible and Stay Positive.

Being on the same page as your family or partner, and your project manager, designer or builder, will make for a happier outcome. Stay flexible and adaptable, and ready for unexpected surprises.

When you’re working with a dedicated, experienced and trustworthy team, they will support you through whatever happens, and work with you through challenging setbacks. It’s about good communication and organisation.

Don’t let renovation stress ruin your project, or the experience for you, your family and your team.

Respect each other, and don’t forget to laugh.

And checkout our blogs for inspiration.

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