Friday, 26 February 2021

Dea Jolly’s step-by-step guide to tackling your first ever renovation

So, you have found the perfect property and now you are eager to get stuck into adding value to it and tackling a renovation … but where do you start?

Many people find the prospect of renovating their home overwhelming. There are so many things to consider, from finding good tradies and experts to knowing the order of each step of the build.

These are my top tips on where to begin:

Flipping houses looks easy on TV, but is it really that simple?Flipping houses looks easy on TV, but is it really that simple? Photo: Armelle Habib. Styling: Dea Jolly and Julia Green


The first thing to do is assess the extent of works that you want to undertake and decide how much you have to spend. Work out the costs for each room of the renovation, factoring in everything from structural work to design finishes and ask tradespeople to give you an idea of their fees.

Come up with a good idea of costs and then add 20 per cent as a contingency fund.This research will help you to set a realistic budget and stick to it.


Formulate a clear idea of what you want to achieve before meeting architects or draftspeople and collect visual references to help clarify your ideas. Delivering a clear brief with as much information as possible about your budget and your goals will fast-track the process and save you time and money. Once the final design has been agreed, stick to your decisions as much as possible, as changes will cause delays and add costs.

"Many people find the prospect of renovating their home overwhelming." Kitchen appliances by Smeg.“Many people find the prospect of renovating their home overwhelming.” Kitchen appliances by Smeg. Photo: Armelle Habib

Council approval

Check with your council about what is required. Every council is different; some require approval for external changes such as decks, some have a heritage overlay or even paint colour restrictions.


Working from a checklist provides clarity. You might find that works in one room impact on those in another (especially plumbing and electrical) so have a clear vision for the whole project and prepare a schedule that lists the order of jobs.

Generally, work from the top of a room to the bottom. Coordinate the work by trade rather than by room and book tradies as early as possible. A checklist will also help you know what needs to be purchased and when, reducing the chance of delays.

The last part of the building process is the most expensive, so stay vigilant with your budget and checklist. Your beautiful new home will make it all worth it. Also, don’t give up!


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