Work with what you have
Unless you want to tear down your house and build it up again entirely, renovations are limited by what you already have. If your bathroom has a north-facing window, it’s never going to be a sun-trap, so why not bring in an enclosed hamam-style to your ablutions?
Once you’ve come up with a realistic budget…
…add another 10-15% if you can. There’s always unexpected expenses – you need to order more tiles than you think, you ordered the wrong paint, or you need to draft in your friend’s teenage son to help with the lifting and shifting. If you don’t need to go into the contingency budget, then you’ve got some bonus spends.
Hire the best contractor you can afford
Ask your friends, spend some time on review sites, get a few guys round to do some quotes and ask to see previous jobs. Forge a relationship with your two favourite prospects – do they answer calls? Do they shut your gate when they leave? Once you’ve chosen your contractor, get everything in writing, including the payment schedule, upfront payments, sealing off the rooms you’ll be working on and so forth.
Don’t sweat the delays
There’s always going to be something that’s delayed. You can guarantee that the shade of tiles you’re after is out of stock until the new delivery arrives next month, or the best renderer in town is booked up for another eight weeks. This happens, it’s all part of it. It’s worth the wait, however, as a rush job is a botch job. Don’t be afraid to make the odd call here and there, though. Those tiles might arrive a few days early or the renderer might have a few days spare.
Be the eternal optimist
OK, your kitchen is off limits for four days. This might have sent you into a tailspin before, but now it’s really important that you look on the bright side. Bust out the barbie, order a takeaway, borrow the neighbours’ slow cooker. Make it an adventure.
Stop worrying about minor deets
The big stuff will be taken care of by the tradies, but yes, you may well be left with a bit of a mess at the end. Don’t freak – if you have any of your emergency budget left over, then you could spend it on a post-builder deep clean. You can expect to pay $100 per hour, but it could be the best money you’ve ever spent…