5 things you should consider before renovating

I know that a home renovation is a big commitment, one that you may not be ready for right now….. and that’s ok! There’s still a lot you can do now to set the foundations for your future successful renovation.  

Like, starting to research and educate yourself on what’s involved, what to expect and if there is anything that you could be doing now to prepare yourself.

Which is why I wanted to share with you a few things that would be helpful for you to consider before starting your home renovation.

1. There’s never going to be a ‘right’ time

Let’s rip the bandaid off. There really isn’t going to be a ‘right’ time that miraculously lands in your lap. You are going to have to create the time.

That’s not said lightly, because I get it, the juggle of running a business and parenting is a daily dance. Some days it’s SWAT team precision with all bases covered (throwing together breakfasts, packing lunch boxes, before calmly exiting the front door). Other days, it’s low-level chaos ending in eggs on toast for dinner.

The simplest starting point is having an awareness of where you currently invest your time and energy. With that awareness, you are able to take the necessary steps in order to create space from a place of alignment.

That could look like;

-Asking for help

This can be a tough one for us Mum’s.  I’ll confess as a solo mum of two boys, I’m fiercely protective of my independence. I’m not great at, nor am I comfortable with asking for help. Yet I will, if it means creating time.  

So many of us parents find our weeknights are consumed with being a taxi for your kids after school sports training…… what if there was a roster system set up, so rather than 4 parents taking each of their kids every Tuesday night to soccer training, it’s one parent doing the pick up’s and drop off’s for all the kids. Yes that one night will be a ‘big’ night, however, you’ve just created time for three Tuesday nights a month.

A smaller step could be asking your kid’s to help prepare dinner with you (if they are old enough of course). Not only does it get done in half the time, you also get to spend quality time with your kid/s.

-Knowing what could trip up

Having the unexpected ‘pop up’ is far from ideal when you’re running a tight ship and are feeling stretched for time. Which is why it can help to anticipate the things that could trip you up. Of course, you’re not going to be able to anticipate everything and you don’t need to. In simply asking yourself the question, “what if [this] were to happen”, you’re able to put measures in place and plan for the unexpected.

2.  Know your why

Ok this is a little left field, but from experience I know it's so important.  

Understanding the reason behind why you are wanting to make the changes to your home, will support you in having an anchor point throughout the journey. It will be the one thing that you continuously come back to time and time again.  

What does that look like?

Let’s say you are living in a Victorian Era period home that has a central corridor with two rooms on either side. Over the years different home owners have tacked on new rooms in an attempt to make it a home that works for their family. The result is a confused home with an overall layout that doesn’t work. You are wanting to make the necessary adjustments in order to create a family home that reflects how you live. That’s your desired outcome.

Your WHY may be that you love and adore your family and are wanting to strengthen your bond and relationships by spending quality time with each other.

In having that clarity, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to recognise and remove distractions, make decisions with confidence and stay motivated throughout the journey.

3.  Your  dream lifestyle

What’s your dream lifestyle? What are you doing, who are you with, how do you feel?  

A fun exercise to do, is over the space of a week or so, with a sense of curiosity, observe how you use each space within your home day to day. Observe your habits and routines.  Observe the personal interactions you each have.  

Our homes directly influence how we live and in turn how we experience life.  

I can share that over the last two years I’ve experienced that first hand.  Noticing that my boys and I now snack after dinner and we no longer sit together  at the dining table to share dinner.  Our new normal during an evening meal, is one of being physically scattered and distracted. The change to our lifestyle is due to the change of our home. Having moved from living in a period home that had a combined kitchen and dining area with a separate living room, to a modern home that has an open plan kitchen, dining, family area. Watching TV at night, the kitchen is now in direct line of sight, which makes it a visual trigger of ‘oh i’ll just go grab something to eat’.  

Aesthetically the three combined spaces to create an open plan looks amazing. Functionally it works. However, it’s playing havoc with and does not support my desired lifestyle.

4.  Discovering untapped opportunities

The renovation of your home is going to be influenced by building regulations (overlooking, overshadowing, percentage for private open space etc) AND potentially planning zones and overlays. It’s not uncommon for period homes to fall within a Heritage Overlay which will stipulate things like material choices, views from the street etc.

A Building Designer or Architect will be able to confirm the exact planning and building constraints relevant to your home. They will also be able to advise you on what opportunities and constraints these will present to the overall vision and design.

Constraints are part of every single home renovation or new build. As a Building Designer, I’m excited by the defined design boundaries planning overlays, such as Heritage Overlay, present. The ‘boundaries’ force me as a Home Designer to think strategically. They also force me to stay agile and to always consider alternative routes to the desired outcome.  

Design constraints are the fuel for creativity and they should be embraced rather than feared.  

5.  The legalities

It’s going to take a team of professionals working together to bring your home renovation to life AND here in Victoria any structural alterations made to your home, must be carried out by registered building practitioners.

The key players within that team who are required to be registered are;

  • Building Designer or Architect
  • Energy Rater
  • Structural Engineer
  • Building Surveyor
  • Builder

You may also engage a;

  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Designer

Even though each of us (as mentioned in list above) are registered practitioners, we can only perform within the roles and responsibilities that are afforded to us within our registered category with the VBA (Victorian Building Association).  

Think of it like a game of Basketball. There are key players on the court with specific skills at any one given time and the subs are waiting on the bench ready to be called on.  

First half of the game (design and documentation phase), it’s the Building Designer/Architect who is on court full time playing the key role. They will have formulated the game strategy, they’re across the desired outcomes and positioning the team to ensure the ‘win’.  

The Builder on the subs bench, whilst not actively involved in the first half, is still a vital team member.  Someone who’s there with an overview of what’s going on and to provide support and valuable feedback/insights during called time out’s. At half time (construction phase) the Builder is subbed on to replace the Building Designer/Architect who comes off.

Remember when you are ready to start your home renovation you will be fully supported by a Registered Building Designer or Architect who will guide you through each step of the way to ensure that you enjoy the journey just as much as you will the final outcome.

Happy to answer any questions in the comments below or feel free to book a call so that we can discuss your home renovation in more detail.

As the founder of i.Balter Design, Emily Nair creates spaces that support the connections that matter.

Specialising in residential and commercial building design, she believes that our physical environments have a powerful impact on how we live and work.

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