Building or remodelling your home: be prepared to be prepared.

ImageImageYou can’t spend too much time on planning. Yet there is just not enough time to plan it all.  Here are some tips on what to consider when estimating your timeline.

Standard vs. Custom. How long does it take to ‘do’ a bathroom? A week?  In the ideal fantasy world – yes. In the real world – it depends. 

The more standard your project is the more accurately a builder can estimate the time it’ll take to complete it. Allow for custom made details delays as the production schedule of your suppliers might be put out by other commitments. Ensure all measurements are taken and recorded correctly by your suppliers. This will eliminate any installation dramas.

Any original design has to be meticulously thought through. Any change in utilities infrastructure means extra time and extra cost. The impact of this change on the rest of infrastructure and construction should be carefully considered.

But I want that bath… Source you suppliers and materiars before estimating the time for the project. Some of these stunning tiles, bathroom suites, floors and lights can take time to arrive. Schedule your jobs accordingly.

This means, every single design detail has to be set in stone before you can estimate how long a project can take.

State of the art. If you are going for unique design created by a professional, allow for going back-and-forwards. To settle on details can take up to 6 months.

Finishing touches. Unbelievable, but fact: finishing touches are often underestimated in the timelines. Be sure to understand the exact list and scope for these last touches of brilliance.

What rain? In general, it is worth while spending time understanding how many and what steps major jobs include. Demolition only looks like item in itself, but it might have a different meaning when that kitchen wall is out, and frames have not arrived, and it’s raining. Horizontally. Scheduling at the greater detail and incorporating external factors like weather and public holidays will spare you from few grey hairs.

Where is my plumber? Whenever multiple trades are involved allow for delays and schedule clashes. The way to mitigate this risk is to have couple of electrician, plumbers, etc. on a standby. It worked perfectly for me in the past.

The Big Day. If you can avoid it, do not renovate when pregnant! Don’t tie up the renovation end date to any significant event in your life. Unless you are in need for adrenaline.

Oh, yeah, permits.  Yep, bureaucracy. Has to happen before you do anything. Start the process the moment you had a construction/ renovation/ remodelling/ improvement thought. And don’t forget the community. It is a good idea to start talking to your neighbours about your ‘Dream Home’ from afar as soon as you had that vision.

Remember you. The main stakeholder in your project is you. Plan your life during the project ahead of the project so that the stress is minimum. It happens so often that the ‘saving money’ option can cost relationships. If heavy demolition/reconstruction is on the cards, consider moving out for the period. If you have a lot of items to protect from renovation damage, consider putting them in storage. Anything to keep peace and serenity in your home!

Rising inflation? Great!

ImageSo it’s gloom and doom according to Australian media based on indication of inflation spike.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia’s consumer prices index jumped 0.8 per cent in the three months to the end of December 2013 – more than twice as fast as expected apparently underpinned by increases in fruit and vegetable prices and the cost of domestic and international travel. Of course they forgot to mention that the real reason for the increase is that anything needing lots of petroleum, which has increased in AUD terms as the Aussie battler has declined by 15% against the USD, is now more expensive.

Great, let’s grow and eat own veggies and explore the local neighbourhood to spare servants of the people some grey hairs whilst keeping interest rates down. Unfortunately, there are other economy indicators like the unemployment rate and real salary trends that point towards leaner times. That’s when unexpected house expenditure can put extra strain on household budget.

Remember that any problem is an opportunity to learn to do things better. So let’s learn to choose our tradies better.

How to choose a tradie?

Here are some important tips on how to choose a good tradie.

  • ABN. Check that your trade contractor is registered at: http://abr.business.gov.au/ . Make sure that company name matches that on your quote.
  • Licenses. Many different tradesmen acquire their skills through apprenticeship and professional education programs. Tradesmen who have not completed apprenticeship in Australia are required to confirm their skills through obtaining Australian Recognised Trade Certificate.  There are also licensing associated with particular trades and high risk work. You can find more details on the Western Australian Department of Commerce site . Do check the license number against business name with appropriate licensing authority to escape disappointments.
  • Insurance. Ask for a copy of public liability insurance. This is in case you property gets damaged and tradie is low on cash.
  • Experience. Ask how many years of experience the tradie has. Is this job typical for them?
  • Awards, memberships and references. Memberships in trade’s top associations, professional accreditations, business awards and testimonials that can be verified speak volumes in favour of sound job performance.
  • Professional quote. Detailed written quote that lists both included and excluded items is a prerequisite for transparent, clear and professional engagement.
  • Rate. Obtain several quotes to understand the market average and so you don’t pay too much! Remember that accreditations and memberships cost money. So, if you are going for top of the pack reward them for their excellence – you might save on call-backs and inconveniencies. Don’t forget to ask about the terms of payment.
  • You. Providing a well defined job, time and budget will significantly increase your chances of getting the best tradie for the job. Develop relationship with good tradies you’ve found. Needless to say, pay your tradie on time.
  • Emergencies. Keep a record of tradies you have used in the past. You never know when you will have a plumbing or electrical emergency!

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