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When is the best time to renovate?

Renovating a house is surely one of the most stressful things you can undertake in a lifetime. In fact, having lived through a kitchen renovation I can say with surety it’s more stressful than building a new house. Mainly because you’re usually living in the house you’re renovating while the renovation is going on.

I know people who’ve prepared meals for weeks using a George Foreman grill in their laundry because they were redoing their kitchen. I know people who had to shower at the gym and use a portaloo parked in their driveway for three months while their bathroom were being re-done.  And I still have nightmares of the fine layer of dust that covered EVERY surface in the house when we did that kitchen reno.

This all explains why the majority of my friends renovated when they were expecting their first child. Because renovating is so horrible you usually leave it till you HAVE to do, rather than when it might be best. And leaving things to the last second (ie oh look, we’re having a baby in 6 months, best we add that second bathroom before they arrive) usually means even MORE stress and costs than the usual renovation entails.

So when is the best time to renovate?

1. When you have the funds to do so

Seems obvious right? But as the examples above demonstrate, many people tend to leave renovating until they’re backed into a corner and HAVE to do it. And that means the appropriate funds, or the best borrowing conditions may not be available which can lead to either over-extending yourself financially, or having to compromise on what you envisioned. Neither of which is fun.

I also highly recommend speaking to your finance professional before embarking on a renovation. They will do a proper feasibility examination of your plans and ensure both that you can afford what you plan to do and that it’s worth it, both from a financial and lifestyle point of view.

2. Away from other big life events

I’ll say it again. Renovating is stressful. So try not to combine it with any other big life events like getting married, changing jobs, having a baby etc

3. Once you’ve lived in your house for a while

It’s very tempting to dive in straight away and renovate the fixer-upper you’ve just bought. (This is something I’ve done myself because we had to make the fixer-upper liveable before we could move into it!) But if you have the opportunity to live in the house for a good few months first, you’ll get a much better feel for what works and what doesn’t. This means you could potentially save on certain areas and re-direct that money to areas that really need attention!

4. When you have time

Renovating eats up time in many ways. If you’re doing it all yourself, then weekends can evaporate in a heartbeat. If you’re hiring tradies, you need to coordinate access to your property, and deal with inevitable delays and rescheduling. You’ll also be called on to make decisions constantly.

If you’re stretched for time because you’re involved in a big project at work or trying to coordinate the school concert, project managing a renovation might just tip you over the edge!

The final word

Renovating a home can give you wonderful lifestyle benefits, and if done right, will also add considerably to the value of your home. But timing is everything. If you spend a bit of time getting that right, the whole experience should cost less, be less stressful … and ultimately more rewarding.

Have you ever renovated? Did you get the timing right? Or spectacularly wrong?!

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