How to Tackle Any Size Renovation | Vellum Interiors | Sydney Interior Designer and Decorator

How to Tackle Any Size Renovation

Whether you’re planning to renovate just one bathroom or your entire home, being intentional about what you want and having an organised process is key to your renovation being a success. In this post, I take you through 10 steps to tackling your renovation to set yourself up for a result you’ll be over the moon with. 

When it comes to tackling any renovation, people often talk about how long and drawn out renovations can be, and, yes — it does take time and can be stressful. But like most things in life, the better prepared you are, the better the outcome. My advice is to have fun in the process and keep the end result in mind — your beautiful new space! If you have no idea where to start your renovation ‘journey’, read on to find out how it works and what steps to take for a result you’ll be truly happy with.


1. Why do you want to renovate? 

Ask yourself — What is it you want to achieve from the renovation? This could range from adding value to your home before selling, or adding more functional space so your family can enjoy the house for many more years. Or do you want to refresh an outdated kitchen? Figuring out why you want to renovate will make sure you’ve got a clear intention and goal in mind. How important this is to you will also help you make decisions along the way, too.


2. What do you want to change?

Even if you’re just updating one space, create a list of everything you want to change. Think of this as your ultimate wish list for your home! This is your chance to dream, and think about everything you really want. I always tell people that it’s important (and fun!) to do this step before setting your budget because you don’t know what things will cost at this stage. Don’t discount a marble bench top, for example, because you think you won’t be able to afford it. Budgeting will come later, but it’s best to imagine your ideal home — because you never know, you could get that marble heavily discounted as an off-cut, or you might save somewhere else and decide to budget it in! 


3. Gather inspiration 

If you haven’t renovated before, or if it’s been a while since you have, you might be a little out of touch with what your personal style is. Take the time to gather inspiration images, online via Pinterest or Instagram, and also in magazines. One trick I love is to go through a magazine and cut out any images that appeal to me. Once you’ve gone through a couple of mags, you’ll have a pile of images that will have some sort of cohesion to them. And if you’re struggling to see the linking thread, a designer will be able to help you. It’s there, I promise!


4. When do you want to complete the renovation by?

Putting a deadline on things is a great way to ensure it gets done. In saying that, be realistic and don’t try to rush it. Unless you’re renovating to sell, the rule “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” really rings true when doing any renovation. Rushing to complete something in time of a ‘false’ deadline can mean the difference between getting great and very average trades, and missing out on the materials you actually want because you’re in a hurry. 


If you don’t really have a date you want the works complete by, give yourself a deadline for getting started. Give yourself a timeframe for when you want to come up with your budget, for example.


5. How much do you want to spend?

Especially if the bank is funding your renovation, it’s important to decide what you want to spend. This ties in well with #1. Knowing your “why” will help you to define what you want to spend. If you have no idea what the renovation is going to cost you, it’s helpful to bring in a few builders and take them through your list from #2. As a guide (as of August 2019), construction prices in Sydney range from about $3,500 per square metre to $5,000 per square metre. 


When deciding on a budget, build in a buffer for unknowns, in case you’re faced with a burst water main or any other unforeseeable. If you’re prepared for these things they’ll be much easier to swallow if it happens! If you’re updating things like curtains, blinds and furniture as well, include a budget for that so you’re not left at the end of the renovation feeling like it’s not complete.


6. Determine any council approvals

Once you’ve got your list from #2, you should be able to determine if that work will require any council approvals. Most exterior alterations (including paint colours in heritage areas) will require a DA (development approval) from council, as will any additions to the house, like an extension or extra floor. If you find that the work does require a DA, be aware that it will likely take longer and be more costly. Again, go back to your “why” to help you decide if it’s worth it.


7. Build your “A” Team

This is where the work takes a step from being “on paper” to a little more real — bring in the experts! Depending on the work you’re doing, you’ll want an architect and/or interior designer, as well as a builder on your team. Do some research online and speak to friends who’ve completed renovations recently, then book meetings with potential ‘candidates’ for your team.  You might even be able to utilise the networks of people in the industry for this — often when a client engages Vellum Interiors, we are able to recommend builders, architects and landscape architects for the project.


My best advice here is to not select your team solely based on price. The cheapest quote may not be the cheapest by the time you finish, and may also leave you with a result you’re disappointed by. I have seen this happen too often before, and I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories too. Look at each firm’s past work and speak to previous clients if you can, too, to ensure you’re getting the right people on your team.  


8. The design process begins

This is where the fun part begins! Your designer or architect will design your new spaces, select materials and finishes and create drawings so you can see exactly what your renovated home will look like. When a client works with us, we also work closely with the builder and trades during this time to make sure that what we design is constructible, and within budget. When the designs are approved, the project moves from imagination to reality pretty quickly! 


9. The timeline is confirmed

Depending on whether you need a DA or not, this is the point where a build schedule can be put together. There can often be lead times for things like tiles, fittings and finishes, and also your preferred trades, so once all this information is confirmed, you’ll have a clear roadmap to the end of the project telling you exactly what’s happening and when. If it’s a significant renovation, it might even be easier to move out (or go on holiday!) while the work is happening.  


10. Works begin!  

Finally, the time comes for trades to get on site and get going. All of this preparation and organisation will put you in great stead while the work is happening, and give you the best chance of a smooth renovation.  



Hopefully this has given you some clarity about how to go about your renovation. Vellum Interiors can help with just about every step in this process, too, for any size renovation. If you’ve got a renovation project coming up and need a brain to pick, I’d love to hear from you.


Enquire about working together here


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