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Your foolproof guide to DIY renovations

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Nila Sweeney
Just as Masterchef inspired us to be more daring in the kitchen, a rash of new home renovation shows have popped up, inspiring us to renovate – but how can we achieve fabulous makeovers without making costly mistakes?
 
Tip #1: Be prepared
The secret to success is in careful planning and execution, says Chris Gray, who currently appears as a judge in Channel 10’s show, The Renovators. Gray should know: he’s personally renovated several of properties himself, and has coordinated dozens more for his clients at Empire Property Portfolio.He believes that too many people rush into renovations without spending enough time planning and preparing for the task ahead, which can cause unnecessary time and budget hiccups.
 
Tip #2: Be realistic
Whether you’re keen to spruce up your home or investment property, Gray says you need to “be realistic” in order to minimise any mistakes along the way. This means knowing how long the renovation is going to take, how much you can handle yourself, how much it’s going to cost, and how you’re going to handle the situation if things don’t go to plan.
 
Tip #3: Be budget-conscious
“If you are adamant about DIY, be aware most novice renovators go under budget when estimating the costs,” he says.“Unavoidable costs often arise from unexpected structural flaws in the property. My tip is to double your expected costs and then work out if it’s worthwhile.”
 
Tip #4: Be informed
If your renovation relates to an investment property, Gray suggests that you find a valuer before you get started.“One of the biggest misconceptions investors have is that the more capital they spend on a property, the more profit they will make. This isn't always the case,” he says.“A valuer can tell you if your $50,000 kitchen renovation will actually add $50,000 to your home's value.”
 
Tip #5: Be smart
Small-scale renovations, such as painting the walls, can be achieved without running into to much trouble – but if you have bigger ideas, like redoing the entire kitchen, then Gray strongly advises against doing it all yourself. “There are so many risks involved in managing a project alone, and some tradespeople capitalise on investors' lack of experience, in terms of cost, timelines and attention to detail,” he says. “Handling the renovation yourself could save money initially, but hiccups along the way might turn your $40,000 renovation into a $60,000 to $80,000 job in the long run – not to mention the added time.”

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