Rosalie Griffiths reveals practical steps to avoid hassles and turbo charge your gains when renovating.
Property rejuvenation is the cosmetic renovation within your existing building structure to improve its value, increase living comfort and improve rental returns. It includes such items (but not limited to); new or updating kitchens and bathrooms, painting, window furnishings, floor coverings, tiling, light fittings.

Time delays, stressful surprises and costly over runs can occur when home owners decide that they will either DIY or project manage tradespeople to do their own property rejuvenation.

You see, property rejuvenation is usually made up of many small jobs - something anyone can do. However, add them all up, it's one big job. Often renovators don't see this. So they neglect the planning part and they do it on a wing and a prayer.

Know where to start
People often don't know where to start and then when they do, they don't realise all those little details that can make life one big headache.

For example- I've seen someone has to pull up a newly laid concrete slab because they forgot to put the utilities in first; or perhaps you think that you will simply put in a heat/lamp/fan combination in the bathroom. Trouble is, if your bathroom ceiling is concrete or there is no roof space, you simply can't install one of these.

Or maybe you are like some clients of mine were - who thought that they would take out the old bath (because it was old) and put in a new one - simple yes? No, you see the old bath was cast iron - so weighed around 150kg and was on the first floor. So who can get a 150kg bath downstairs? Not to mention that the bath was "bricked in" - no timber framework here!

Ahh, yes, but new baths are cheap aren't they? Yes they certainly can be, but the client hadn't realised just how much it would cost in terms of labour to get the old bath out and the new bath in. In the end we simply resurfaced the existing bath - no fuss, 1 day's work and over $500 cheaper than putting in a new bath.

Your step by step guide
First time renovators get caught up in the excitement and buzz of the dream outcome. They are disappointed when the makeover process hits a snag that they don't foresee. They are even more disappointed when the end result doesn't come close to TV's 'Renovation Rescue'.

The crucial success factor that most first time renovators neglect is planning.  A thorough pre-reno process including inspection, detailed measurements and budgeting is the only way to start a renovation project.

1. Make a start.
This may sound easy, however often the first step is the most difficult. The most important thing here is to take that first step. It is imperative to keep the end user in mind at all times throughout the whole process - who is going to live in the property when the rejuvenation is finished - home-owner, new buyer, tenant? The rejuvenation must be planned to appeal to your target market.

2. Look at what's there now.
Take a walk around the property, use a checklist and take detailed notes and measurements. Work out the following - What has to be done, what would be nice to do?

3. Designing the rejuvenation.
A lot of people focus on style and cost, however there are other items that are equally as important to consider such as ease of installation (like the bath example above), maintenance (including cleaning), warranty terms, sustainability, colour and texture. Is it worth paying $500 less for an item now that will break down or be too expensive to fix in 2 years time?

4. Costing.
Remember to include ALL labour costs, all fittings and fixtures (down to the last light bulb) and delivery costs. Don't forget to include the cost of your time for purchasing items and managing the project! Add a contingency amount to cover those inevitable extra unforseen items (there is at least one in every project). Total up the costs.

5. Finalise your plan.
Compare your total costs to your budget. Prune where required! Put your plan into a spreadsheet. Set a start and an end date!

6. Sequence the works in a logical order
This is so important! If you don't sequence things properly you will have unhappy tradespeople because you will get them back 6 times for items that could have been handled in 2 visits if the sequencing had been logical. The logic we use is remove all the old stuff, rough in for plumbing & electrical items, repair, paint, install new things, paint touch ups, clean until sparkling! Put all this in a workplan.

7. Implementation
Now it's time for the hands-on things! You need to get the work done according to your work plan. Your job is to check on the timing of works to ensure that things happen in a timely fashion, ensure that all materials are at the property when required, problem-solve when issues arise and be the quality control checker. Your job is NOT to micro-manage the tradies - after all you have employed them because they are the expert and not you.

8. Enjoy the end results
This is so important. Take time to walk around and admire your new surroundings. Give yourself a pat on the back. Importantly, say thank you to everyone (including the tradies) who made this transformation possible.

Rosalie Griffiths is the founder of Urban Sensations. She has been doing rejuvenations for herself and others for over 10 years. Rosalie is an experienced project manager, registered building practitioner (DBL-27499), Master Builder and a successful property investor. Website:

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