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Renovating a House Checklist: Essential Steps for Home Improvement


There are several steps to renovating your home, including deciding which rooms you want to renovate and why, choosing how you’ll renovate these rooms and then choosing a contractor to take on the job or starting the process of DIY home renovation. Sometimes, doing it yourself is a great way to save money on cheap home renovations like a new coat of paint for a room or replacing flooring, but for any larger-scale home remodelling, you should hire a professional house remodelling contractor.

But before you begin any house remodelling, you need to have a concrete plan of what you or your hired help is doing. Here are our essential steps to take before beginning your home renovations!

Why Should You Renovate Your Old House?

Before you begin your home renovations, you must ask yourself what you want to change in your home and why. If you’ve been feeling like your space is too small for you or too boxy and you’d like to open up the space a little by knocking down some walls, you’ll likely need to hire a contractor to do this safely.

Perhaps your home is an older home that needs a bit of TLC or is starting to decay in certain places, and items need to be replaced. Or, you’re having issues with constant plumbing problems in your bathroom, or the tile is starting to crack on the bathroom floor.

Wear-and-tear and aesthetic updates are perfectly valid reasons to create a home improvement to-do list and start filling it out! Maybe you could create a longer-form list as part of a one-, two- and five-year plan for your space.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not always possible nor financially feasible to renovate a property, and it’s easier and cheaper to conduct a knock-down rebuild. This is generally the case with older homes when the amount of work required to renovate isn’t cost-effective relative to the cost of knocking down and building new.
 It’s also sometimes better to build a custom home that’s to your exact specifications and liking, rather than working with the handiwork and certain materials used by the previous owner. Certain things cannot be torn down and replaced, as they may be integral to the structure of the home. Although, a quick check on building costs may indicate that your best bet may be to renovate.

If you’ve been lucky enough to buy a new home that’s stable enough to avoid the hassle of a knock-down rebuild, it’s time to start building a home renovation step-by-step checklist.

Home Renovation Checklist

Creating a step-by-step home renovation checklist will help you stay on-task and focused when things seem chaotic. If you’re hiring a renovation contractor to assist or perform the work for you, having this checklist will also help you ensure that nothing is overlooked or missed during the renovation process.

Understand Your Limitations with Renos

Many local councils will have specific guidelines on what you can and cannot do during your home renovation with applying for and receiving a building permit. If you’re hiring out a contractor, they may acquire these permits for you, as chances are, you’re performing more major renovations that will require specific permits.

These permits and limitations within your specific area aren’t trivial. There are serious consequences for breaking the law in this regard, and there may be limitations in place on doing specific types of landscaping, or adding a second storey to your home, or adding a garage, or most other types of major renovations.

Make Material Decisions

If you’re conducting major renovations, you’ll need to make some decisions about materials to present to your chosen contractor, at least as preliminary choices, to aid them in giving you a cost estimate. This could include wood types, countertop styles and finishes, mouldings for door trim, flooring and/or tiling options. If you’re installing new hardware in your bathroom for example, you may also need to make these decisions preliminarily to allow time for your contractor to source the material.

Obtain Quotes from Contractors or Suppliers

Whether you’re doing a DIY house remodelling or using a contractor, now is the time to obtain rough quotes for materials directly from suppliers or contractors you may hire to do the work for you. These quotes can serve as a guide on the rough pricing of specific materials, which will allow you to adjust your renovation budget accordingly. This may mean you must make sacrifices on certain materials or obtain suggestions from your contractor.

Find an Architect

If you’re conducting a major home renovation project, which includes making structural changes to the home or adding rooms, you’ll need to secure the services of an architect. This will mean researching the architects in your area who specialise in home renovations. Be sure to build these architectural services into your house renovation cost calculations. Your architect may take several days or weeks to come back with blueprints.

Obtain a Development Application Approval

One of the key parts of any custom home renovation is to obtain a Development Application approval from your local council. Otherwise known as DA approval, this is part of the building permissions process but is sought after an architect does drawings. The DA approval must be made if any structural changes will be happening to the house, or any other renovations that may affect the ground, soil, air, water or neighbouring properties.

Certain smaller projects may not require a Development Application, but anything major will.

Cost Out High-Cost Items

Once you have secured and confirmed your builder for the project, you will want to cost your high-cost items. This can happen before DA approval has been received, as some may take up to three months to process. These items generally include toilets, sinks, bathtubs, flooring, etc. Any large expense should be accounted for to see if it fits within your house renovation budget. If not, you may have to rethink certain items.

Doing this costing before your DA is approved allows you to make changes and notify your contractor. That way, all your desired materials are in place, ready to hit the ground running when your DA is approved.

Secures the Services of a Builder

Most major home renovation projects require the services of builders. Builders specialising in home renovations are in high demand, so supply is limited. This means you may be waiting some time before services can be rendered. Factor this into your decision and desired timeframe for the project’s completion.

Be sure to do your research when searching for a builder. Ask your friends who’ve had renovations done who they used. When searching for a builder, ensure they have all of the necessary qualifications and licenses for the jobs at hand and that their pricing is fair and on par with the average market price for the renovation job you need.

Your architect will help you with this selection by providing a Tender Assessment sheet that lists the various quotes provided by specific builders and then advises you on how best to proceed and with which company.

Ensure All Work is Certified

One of the most important steps during the renovation process is to ensure that all work has been inspected. You can hire a private inspector or obtain one through your local council. These inspectors will ensure that the mandatory inspections occur when they’re supposed to. These inspections are carried out by structural engineers and utility providers at different times during the renovation process to ensure that no mistakes have been made, and work can continue safely.

This certification is required for builders to continue with certain parts of renovation projects.

Order Fittings and Appliances

Once all major groundwork has been done and you can set foot in your newly renovated home, it’s time to order all the high-cost items you’ve priced out earlier. These can arrive and be installed before the renovation is completed if you’ve paid your builders and their subcontractors to perform that service. Otherwise, you can do this on your own, if a licensed professional inspects and signs off on your work.

Check-in With Your Builder Regularly

Once appliances have been ordered, it’s now up to your builder to maintain a good working pace to complete the project on time. It may be worth checking in with them on a weekly basis to receive updates on your project and ensure that things are running smoothly. Regularly keeping tabs allows you to make any necessary changes and deal with problems as they arise.

Renovation Completion & Defect Period

Congratulations! Your renovation is now complete! Whatever your project, having a finished, freshly renovated space will feel so good! Every builder does things slightly differently, but any builder worth their salt will allow for a sixty-day “defect period,” this is a time in which they will likely guaranteed fixing any defects that occur for free. This can include cracks in drywall, lifting flooring, leaking sinks, tubs or other piping, and anything they’ve missed during the initial renovation.

Typically, faulty home renovations discovered or apparent after this defect period are covered by the Home Warranty Insurance Scheme, valid for five years and cover builders’ work on projects over $20,000.

How Much Could You Spend on Renovating Your House?

The question of how much you could spend on renovating your house will depend on what you’re doing for the renovation project. Like all other building projects, pricing varies by builder but is typically accounted for per square metre. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, home renovations typically cost around $63,000, with your average bathroom renovation coming in around $17,000 and your average kitchen reno costing $23,000.

If you’ve been staring at a blank wall in your living room thinking: ‘What if it wasn’t there?’ or, looking at your aging bathroom and thinking that something has to change, now is the time to begin the process of renovating that old bathroom, or expanding that living room!


Contact Provincial Homes today to see how we can aid you in your custom home renovation project, whether you’re making your home more accessible, more sustainable, or simply modernising it, we can help you create the custom home of your dreams.

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