Articles: Browse Category

Renovating Your Home

Simon Stevenson

I’m not going to lie – home renovations are not for the faint hearted. 

From my own experience, I can honestly tell you it’s possible to go from cool, calm and collected to complete and utter chaos, including the odd tantrum, in a matter of minutes. But trust me, those times are soon forgotten... especially when you’re creating MasterChef dishes in your brand new kitchen or lounging in the sun on your beautiful timber deck.  

Here are a few valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way:

1) One very important thing to note is, while tempting, the easy way is not always the best way.  Being prepared to put in the hard yards along with careful planning, and setting a realistic budget will contribute in making your renovation experience a positive one.  

2) Start off knowing that you’re going to be in for a few surprises!  That might sound ominous, but some problems can’t be predicted until you get in and start pulling things apart.  For example you may come across structural issues, asbestos in places you wouldn’t expect or even termites.

3) Prepare to go over budget. Have a contingency fund of about 20 per cent set aside to cover any unforeseen circumstances; you’ll sleep better at night.  It’s very hard to lock in a firm plan when there can be so many variables.

4) Before you start any renovations, take time to visit your neighbours. Let them know what your plans are and what to expect. Try to be considerate and flexible where possible. It’s usually easier to observe a few requests early on than to end up with an angry neighbour!

5) Choose a reputable builder. Word of mouth recommendations are usually best, so start by asking family and friends. Always get three separate, detailed quotes and make sure the builders are quoting on exactly the same thing, including materials.  Verify all contractor licenses and insurances online or with a phone call. A quick glance at the card is not good enough.    

6) If you’re up for a challenge why not look into become an Owner Builder? Not only does it have the potential to save you a great deal of money, the satisfaction of having complete control and the ability to supervise how your home is built or renovated can be very appealing.

7) You can also take time to hunt for bargains on building materials or spread the work out over time, as money allows. If you’re handy, you and your mates can get in and do some of the jobs like tiling and painting, then when it is time to hire skilled licensed contractors, you can choose whomever you like.   
There’s a lot to consider before taking on such a huge task but if you’re up for it, the benefits can make it very rewarding. Be aware, along with the reward comes the risk and responsibility so do your homework first!

On the flip side, there are plenty of smaller, less expensive improvements you can make that will enhance the look and increase your home’s value without jumping into a full-on renovation.

“A fresh coat of paint can be one of the cheapest yet most effective ways to freshen things up.”  

“Replacing fixtures like door handles, cupboard knobs and switch plates can also give you big bang for your buck.”

“If you’re on the hunt for flooring ideas check out the new laminates, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!   It’s possible to have the look of stone, timber or concrete without the hefty price tag.”

Simon Stevenson has been in the building industry for the past 35 years.  He is still “on tools” as well as owner of a local home improvement and painting company. Simon hosts the very popular Simon’s House Home Improvement Show on 2UE 954am every Saturday afternoon from 1pm, and his handy home improvement tips are heard on radio stations all across Australia. Visit or send an email to


Johnson Bros Mitre 10 at Mona Vale have loads of tools and tips for renovating and small home makeovers. Visit them today - 

Sign-up for the latest local Deals, Promotions & Events