How To: Renovate Your House

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

You want to build a new garage, extend the kitchen or renovate the bathroom. Yes, it is possible to do this within budget and to your satisfaction – if you follow these simple steps. What do you want? Builders need clear explanations and detailed drawings of what you want them to do. Project and budget overruns are usually caused by clients changing their minds while the work in ongoing, or the lack of detailed information when quotes and timetables were worked out. For a painless building experience, detailed planning is of the utmost importance. Write a clear specification, detailing the work you want them to do, before you start asking for quotations. This way you know that all prospective builders are quoting you for exactly the same work, enabling you to compare apples with apples. Budget This is probably the most important thing to get right. Work out what you can afford to spend on the project, and add another 10% to 15% for a contingency fund. Financially, it does not make sense to spend tens of thousands of rands on the improvement of your property if this expenditure doesn’t add equally, or preferably more, to the value of the property. Extending kitchens and revamping bathrooms can add great value to your home, but you might struggle to recoup the investment in a soundproof music room, for example. Before you embark on a big project, keep in mind what market prices are for properties in your area and do not overspend on your building project. Once you’ve determined the potential benefits, it is time to work out what everything will cost – from the bricks and cement to the finishing touches. The better you do your homework, the fewer unpleasant surprises you will have later. Decide beforehand which fittings you would like – pick the door handles, lights, kitchen tops, tiles, baths, etc. – clients changing their minds are one of the biggest causes for project budget and time overruns. Get the money You might finance the project out of savings, from a bank loan or an extension on your existing home loan. Again, make sure your project makes financial sense before you start spending thousands. Pick your builder and architect If you want to get the job done professionally, you have to hire professionals. Ask colleagues, friends and family for recommendations, and ensure you hire a registered builder. For certain changes and additions, you will need permission from the city council. Ensure your paperwork is in order - the council is allowed to break down changes that were made without permission. Banks will not finance extensions either if the plans are not approved. Remember that additions or changes can also lower the value of your property, especially if shoddy work is done – so employ people who know their trade. Sign a contract The contract should clearly stipulate the work that is required from the builder, with specific deadlines for certain milestones. Payment terms and conditions should be stated clearly, and provisions should be made for any changes to the job description. Happy building! Regular renovators recommend clients visit the building site daily to monitor progress and immediately point out work you are not happy with. Knowing there is constant surveillance will ensure work of a higher quality.

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