SO... YOU WANT RENOVATING SUCCESS?
I know, I know - you're probably itching to get started on your project. You're ready to smash down a few walls, rip out those old kitchen cabinets and toss that turquoise bath.
But, before you take another step - WAIT! Take note of the following checklist of essentials, or you could find your project derailed before it has even started.
Before you embark on your renovation project, engage good legal representation to go over any contracts with you and to seek advice about your legal responsibilities. I would recommend doing this before signing anything to do with your renovation.
Remember, this is probably one of the most costly and important financial decisions you will ever make, so don’t skimp on good legal advice.
"If you intend to buy a home to renovate, your lawyer will be essential to the process. Selling agents act on behalf of the sellers - you need a professional acting on your behalf too."
Engage reputable legal representation and make sure your sale contract has the relevant conditions you require. Ensure building and pest inspection and finance clauses are discussed and considered. A good legal representative with experience in property will advise you and have your best interests first and foremost.
"On the subject of building and pest inspections, be wary who you choose to conduct these, and once again - DO YOUR HOMEWORK."
Some building and pest inspections we have had carried out weren’t (in my opinion!) worth the paper they were written on.
One inspector told us there was no asbestos in one of our properties, despite us raising our concerns with him that we thought there may have been.
Months later we discovered there was a significant amount of asbestos in the property. The experience was extremely distressing to me, and I was racked with guilt at the thought of having potentially exposed my family to such a harmful substance. At that point in the project I wished I'd never started, and thought I would never renovate again.
This 'unforeseen' discovery also blew out our budget - costing around $10,000 dollars to have professionally removed. Asbestos is unfortunately found in many properties and it MUST properly identified and professionally removed in areas you plan to renovate or physically disturb. When it comes to anything like this, seek professional advice.
"Always have hazardous materials of any description removed by qualified professionals."
Your legal representative may also be able advise about your insurance responsibilities for your project. Otherwise, do your research, speak to a few different insurers and get the appropriate cover before anyone sets foot on your property.
"Insurance should never be overlooked when it comes to renovating and you must ensure your project and the workers coming and going from your property are appropriately insured."
Incidents happen all the time on work sites, from minor cuts and bruises to occasionally much more serious accidents. Even though insurance is another cost, no renovation project should be without it.
Aside from having appropriate insurance yourself, check with your contractors to make sure they are adequately covered to operate on your property.
Your legal representative may explain to you about obtaining necessary certification and/or local government approval for your project, or at least be able point you in the right direction for further advice. This is especially important if you are an owner-builder or project manager. If it's your project and you're in charge, it is your responsibility.
"Failure to get the appropriate and necessary building approvals for your project is a mistake - it’s as simple as that."
You may not be covered for insurance if mishaps occur and you don't have the appropriate approvals for the work being carried out. It may be quicker and it may be cheaper to just get started and sort those things our later, but it is not worth the risk.
There are some jobs on the project you plan to undertake personally, or for a friend to help out with (even these require appropriate insurance and approvals), but when it comes to jobs including electrical work, plumbing or construction, get an expert and get the work certified.
If work carried out on your property is not approved by the relevant body, it may not meet standards and codes and you may be asked to amend the project so the requirements are met. Worse still, you may be asked to remove the unapproved work, or demolish it - which can be very costly.
Buyers may be reluctant to buy properties without appropriate certification and approvals. I know of a local seller who had a great deal of difficulty selling his property for that reason.
Either way, it could be a very costly exercise - the buyer may want a cheaper price as compensation, or you may need to have the work approved retrospectively (which may meaning having it re-done).
4. OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
One of the benefits of undertaking an owner-builders course is that it will make you aware of government occupational health and safety (OH&S) requirements for your renovation project.
It is essential these requirements are met on any building site and if you are personally project managing the renovation, the responsibility will rest firmly with you. If these requirements are not met and there is an incident onsite, you may find yourself legally at fault.
Some tradesmen are inclined to ignore OH&S requirements, or not take them very seriously. Take responsibility, or ensure that responsibility has been taken on your site that OH&S requirements are clearly understood and implemented.
It pays to have a good understanding of all your legal responsibilities at the outset, and this is particularly important if you have never undertaken a renovation project before.
"So before you don a hard hat, steel-capped boots and safety glasses and launch head first into your renovation, make sure you are legally able to do so and that you have the relevant insurances and approvals in place."
After all, you have a lot at stake.
Renovating with love,