Are you Pinteresting your way into overwhelm?
Here’s how to get started with renovating or building (and stop procrastinating).
At the beginning of every project is the excitement of what’s ahead, and the home you’re dreaming of ending up with. And yet, it can be confusing to know the steps to take, who to trust and what to prioritise.
This blog will help you to:
- Recognise what procrastinating (disguised as well-meaning research) looks like
- Learn the first four questions every project needs to answer, to get started in the best way
- Switch your behaviour and time to being more productive (and preparing and planning for your project instead)
We love our research
Homeowners – especially women – can spend a lot of time researching before building or renovating. Many homeowners I know … in fact, when I surveyed the UA Community, 97% of them told me this is what they do … turn to Google. There is a wealth of information available, but you can quickly get lost down a rabbit hole, find it’s well past your bed time, and you’re not anymore confident about what to do for your home.
Unguided research can waste time and energy – and can spiral quickly into gathering a lot of unnecessary or incorrect information.
This can actually make you more confused and overwhelmed. Which then makes you more fearful about starting.
You’ll most likely keep researching, but that fear will be causing you to procrastinate about your project.
And possibly never start it at all.
What it looks like when you’re actually getting ready …
Do you know that feeling of getting ready for a night out somewhere special, and having not really worked out what you’re wearing?
If you’re anything like me, it may mean several outfit changes … frustration that you didn’t get that dress dry-cleaned a week ago so you could wear it … and a mad last-minute panic to actually do your hair and makeup, because you’ve wasted so much time figuring out what to wear. All the while, I’m cursing the fact I didn’t choose an outfit the day or week before so it was all good to go, and getting ready was calmer and done more simply.
Renovating and building is a little similar.
I see homeowners spend months, sometimes years, figuring out ‘what to wear’ … ie collecting images of the things they like, the way they want their home to look.
And then, at the last minute, madly panicking to get the design done, their approvals sorted and get going on site. You rarely make good decisions when rushing, or feel confident about the choices you’re making. And the scales are tipped the wrong way in where you’ve spent the bulk of your time.
Get started here, by answering these 4 questions
There are 4 questions that start every project – whether you’re building or renovating … whether you’re spending $50,000 or over $1,000,000.
These 4 questions are:
- What would you like to do?
- What does your local authority / council say you’re allowed to do?
- What can your budget afford?
- What do you, and your family, actually need from your home now and into the future (and this may or not have the same answer as question 1).
Question 1: What would you like to do?
Often homeowners start by thinking about their desires for their home as simply a wish-list of rooms and spaces. They try to piece their home together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Instead, ask yourself “What am I seeking to achieve?” (Because ultimately, this is the guts of the question “What would I like to do?”)
What are your big goals for your project? Is it to create your forever home? To give your current home a little more room? To make life simpler, by downsizing? Or another reason?
And then ask “Why”?
I’ll be honest here. Any project involving renovating or building is a long-term play – it’s a marathon.
Your “why” is your sustenance to get you through. You need to know it, hang onto it, believe in it, and hold it high. Write it down. Put it on the fridge.
You may keep talking about your home in terms of what you want it to “do”, but it’s also important to think about “why” you want them to do these things.
Your connection to your home is usually quite an emotional one. Understanding the “why” of your project honours this, and will help set the framework as you move forward – and help you navigate the seduction trap that is Pinterest, Interiors Magazines and Makeover TV Programs.
Question 2: What does your local authority / council say you’re allowed to do?
There will be planning regulations as well as building regulations, determining what you can and can’t do in your project.
Planning regulations are implemented by your local council, and help control how our suburbs and streets will look.
In some councils, if your project meets all their rules, you don’t need any council approval. With others, you will always require a Development Application (Council’s formal approval process) to proceed with any work.
The best place to start is your local council’s website. There’s usually fact sheets, or flow charts starting with “Do I need a Development Application?” that will help you get some information for your project.
There are also building regulations that govern how your project can be constructed. These are operated at a national level, with state variations.
Generally, you’ll need a Building Approval to commence construction, and this is when your project is formally checked against these building regulations. A Building Certifier (or Private Certifier) can assist you with these approvals.
Question 3: What can your budget afford?
Ugh … money. At some point it was going to get here, wasn’t it?!
Budget is the main thing that concerns homeowners embarking on their project. What will my build or reno cost me? And will it blow out along the way?
One of the most significant things you can do to preserve sanity for your project, and not have it run away from you financially is to not ignore your budget!
It may sound obvious, but the countless conversations I’ve had with homeowners that have got terribly awkward when I’ve asked “OK, so what is your budget?” shows me the gaping hole in how we plan our projects!!
Set a budget early. Of course, it won’t be perfect, or fixed, but don’t let this stop you! Start crunching the numbers and determining rough estimates for your plans, that you can then finesse and firm up as you progress along your journey.
There are many free online calculators you can check out. This is a fave:
And cost guidelines are also useful for new homes:
Your budget is actually what is enabling you to undertake this project. Many homeowners see it as a limiter, because it never feels like enough to do all the things they want it to do.
This may sound a little woo woo … but if you see it as a limiter, you’ll be fighting it every step of the way. Instead, think of it as the tool, the facilitator, of your build or reno. It’s fantastic that you can access these funds to create a home for your family! Don’t be scared to talk about it, and keep tracking it the whole way through. Educate yourself on what things cost, how to stretch your budget, and empower yourself to invest it well.
Question 4: What do you, and your family, actually need from your home – now and into the future?
This may seem like a repeat of the first step, but stay with me here …
Australia has the largest average home size in the world. Yes, that’s right. Bigger than our USA counterparts. And it’s climbed quickly.
In 1984, the average size of an Australian home was 162.2m2. In 2012-2013 ABS figures, this had jumped to 241.1m2. And our families haven’t got any bigger – in actual fact they’ve got much smaller.
We all want more. The world of home ownership is littered with images to seduce us into wanting more and more from our homes. It’s also human condition to strive to improve and achieve. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, when you really determine what you need to create a home that works for you, chances are you’ll find it’s actually pretty simple. And this is what I know, from the countless homeowners I speak to and work with, most homeowners want from their home …
- Space to be together.
- Space to be apart.
- Lots of natural light.
- Heat and warmth when you need it, and cooling breezes when you need those.
- Flexibility, functionality and durability.
- Somewhere to be proud of, to show all your hard work
- And a home that supports you living your best life – because it doesn’t tax you, stress you, or get in the way of you being awesome.
This isn’t about having less – it’s about simplifying.
Keeping this front and centre as you move along your journey will help you navigate the noise and distractions, and lead you to the home that is perfect for you.
Over to you
Grab 4 pieces of paper. Write each of these questions at the top of their own page. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complex.
Then … Start with Question 1 and 4. Just close your eyes, and picture yourself sitting in your finished home. How is it helping you live? How is it helping you, and your family, be?
- Start jotting down your answers to these two questions on their pages.
- Use the free online budget tools to wrap your head around the numbers.
- Head to this blog to learn more about finding out what your local authority will allow.
Remember, this is about getting started. You don’t need to know the entire journey right now. But making these first, guided steps, will point you in the right direction for you and your home, and save you lots of late nights on Pinterest. Because … well … sleep. Sleeeeeep 😉
Other blogs you may find useful
These are the 6 things I learnt from my favourite renovation project.
It’s hard to know how to choose your designer when you need to invest in their services first to find out if they’re a good fit. Here’s my tips.
Think you’re going to use that floorplan you found online? Think again.
I especially love this list:
– Space to be together.
– Space to be apart.
– Lots of natural light.
– Heat and warmth when you need it, and cooling breezes when you need those.
– Flexibility, functionality and durability.
Thanks for your comment. It’s a great list isn’t it? – and I find that homeowners find it quite a relief to know and hang onto as they renovate and build as it’s easy to let things run away and be overwhelmed by all the choices out there.
– Amelia, UA x