We map out the process to make sure you know where to begin, and what to expect. Your dream reno starts here!
Renovations come in many shapes and sizes, from a simple bathroom update to a multi-month project to extend your house, adding a new kitchen and multiple bathrooms as you go.
Whatever your situation, your renovating motto should be the same: be prepared. If you put in the effort at the planning stage, the build will run more smoothly. Better yet, if you’re prepared to be available and flexible at the building stage, you’ll save time and you might end up with a better result. Here’s what to look out for at every stage of the reno process.
This is the fun part. As well as collecting as many visual references as possible, you need to become mildly obsessive about the subject of your renovation. Preparation here means educating yourself on what’s out there, narrowing down your style ideas by looking at plenty of examples, and getting an idea of the cost of the elements you love. For a kitchen or bathroom, you can really hone in on the details. Gas or induction? Marble or engineered stone? Freestanding or built-in bath?
Time required: Up to you, have fun with it! Since you’re reading this guide, you’re already on your way.
costs & team make-up
Set your budget for the project, and have a clear understanding of the scope of works. Then decide how you’ll approach the project – this will depend on a few factors. If planning approval is needed, you might decide to use an architect. If you’re not changing the footprint or external fabric of your home, you might choose an interior designer to help with the design and finishes. A specialised kitchen or bathroom company will cover the process from design to build, which might suit you if you’re time-poor. If you’re confident on the design and happy to make all the decisions yourself, use a builder, who can project manage the build including other tradespeople. If you have a few renos under your belt, you could even be the project manager, but make sure you’re up for the time you’ll need to spend planning and managing the reno. Whatever you decide, look for personal recommendations and speak to several professionals for quotes.
Time required: Up to one month if you’re obtaining multiple quotes.
set the design brief
Since you’ve done all the work at the first stage, you can approach this step with a clear brief for your design professional, if you’re using one. Start with the practicalities: who will be using the kitchen or bathroom – is it for a large family full of hungry teenagers (in which case, check out our family kitchen design tips on page 12), or for a fastidious couple? What are your everyday essentials and what are your nice-to-haves? What do you love, style-wise, and why? It’s also important to brief your designer on what you don’t like so they have some clarity on what to look out for. Storage is a key consideration: how much do you need? Go into detail – measure your towel stacks and tell your designer if you’re a bulk shopper and need space for 54 tins of canned tomatoes. Your design can be as personal to you and your lifestyle as your budget and your site allow. It’s at this point that you can decide whether choosing bespoke solutions is an option.
Time required: Up to one month for a single kitchen or bathroom.
planning & sourcing
Once your design is finalised, set the timing for your build and work on getting everything in place for it to run smoothly. You might have a builder or designer taking care of this, but it’s worth checking in with them regularly to find out where the pain points or likely delays are. Now’s the time for flexibility – you may be hit with an unexpected lead time on tiles or a discontinued appliance. Best to get familiar with your plans, and keep a copy with you at all times, along with the phone number of your builder, tradies or designer so you can make decisions quickly. Measure and re-measure, plan and re-plan. It will help to have a diary or calendar set up to map out the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of the build, day by day. If you’re sourcing and buying your own materials and appliances, they need to be on site at the right time, and preferably ahead of time before any tradies arrive.
Time required: Up to one month, with longer lead times possible in some cases.
time to build
You’ve prepared like a racehorse, so you can sit back and let the pros run the race, right? Not quite. Although you’re on the home straight, this stage is actually the most important, and you need to be on your game. Be present or quickly available for your builder or tradies. It’s entirely possible they’ll run into something unexpected. Simple bathroom updates are often complicated by unknown plumbing hitches, which just can’t be planned for. Think of it as a short-term challenge that will result in huge long-term gains. The finish line is in sight – you can do it!
Time required: At least three to four weeks for a bathroom or kitchen renovation.
Run through every detail with your builder, design professional and tradies before you sign off. Then, it’s time to crack open the champagne, feel suitably smug, and bore your friends and family with every detail.
Time required: Forever (or until the next reno).
Take cues from a kitchen and bathroom renovation that got it oh so right: