Surviving renovations

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Whether you are doing an ‘add value’ update in preparation for a sale, or necessary renovations because your existing house requires repairs or replacement (for example, old kitchens and bathrooms that cease to function are often the catalyst that sparks a significant renovation), the chances are your house has a few surprises hiding behind the plasterboard or under the floor.  It is surprises like these that, while unavoidable, can blow the budget.


To avoid unnecessary surprises, make sure your builder looks not just at the surface of the job, but investigates the underlying infrastructure that may be affected by the renovation.


4 Renovation hot-spots

1) Pipes
Many houses have pipes and plumbing that was installed when the dwelling was originally built. Houses older than 30 years may have substandard configurations, cracked and leaking water and waste pipes as well as old materials that are inefficient.
By re-plumbing bathrooms and kitchens, you are able to maximise hot water efficiency, streamline water usage and make sure there are no leaks or cracks. If you have an established garden, some pipes may experience root damage which can break or completely block pipes.


2) Insulation
As incredible as it may seem, many houses in Sydney were not insulated or only minimally insulated when they were built. Our understanding of insulation and the materials that have been developed over the last decade has improved the heating and cooling of homes dramatically.  If you are removing wall linings in any rooms, take the opportunity to insulate them as part of the renovation – your energy bills will thank you!


3) Wiring
Again, older houses beware, old wiring can be not only inconvenient and inefficient, but downright dangerous. Make sure the existing wiring is checked and where appropriate, factor in updating the wiring as you go. It is also a good idea to ‘future-proof’ your house by updating power outlets to include USB ports for easy charging of electronic devices such as mobile phones, e-readers and tablets. As wireless sound systems become more popular, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers can easily be installed by an electrician even if you don’t have the latest system, it is simple to add it at a later date. Both USB ports and in-room speakers are good selling points in today’s market.


4) Joists, beams and bearers
Sounds scary?  It can be if there is a fundamental structural problem lurking under your house!  It is a good idea to have these checked out by an engineer or builder particularly if you notice that your floor is less than level or there is bouncing in the floor. If you are changing the floor surface as part of the renovation – replacing floor boards with tiles for example, this invisible but necessary fix can add to your budget.


In order to assess the value of a significant renovation, it is a good idea to speak to a real estate agent or property valuer to decide what the overall benefit would be and if it is ultimately worth it.


For more property information, contact Amanda on My Side for professional advice.

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