Amy Hamilton Chadwick 19 Apr 2021

Get them right and renovations can transform your home and your lifestyle. 

More space, better flow, newer look – you can get the home you want in the location you already love.  

However, when they go wrong, renovations can be enormously stressful, costly and time-consuming. 

While not all the problems you’ll encounter during a renovation are avoidable, many of them are caused – or made worse – by poor planning, hasty decision-making or not getting the right advice.  

Here are some of the most common renovation mistakes made by Kiwi homeowners, so hopefully you can avoid them:  


1.  Changing your mind once the job is underway 


The quickest way to go over budget and over time on any renovation is to keep changing your mind. Planning ahead, doing your research and making good decisions early in the process will keep your budget down.  

“People will make a very quick decision on a design for their kitchen or bathroom, then change their minds,” says Mark Trafford, managing director of Maintain to Profit Renovations. “That’s the most costly mistake of all.”   


2.  Outdated thinking


Haven’t renovated for a while? You won’t know what new products, materials and methods are available.

New products can give you better performance at a lower price, and they’re often more eco-efficient or environmentally friendly. 

Visit home shows and trade stores to see what’s new, what’s on special and what’s no longer in style.   


3.  Not getting council consent


Know what work requires consent, and get it when you need it – or ask a builder.  

“Unconsented work is to your detriment, because as soon as you go to sell it, it will show and people won’t buy it,” says Trafford. “If the council finds out, they will make you put it back. Getting consent is not expensive in comparison to what it will cost you to undo it.”  


4.  Overrating your design ability


“We often see first-time renovators who think they know it all. Designing a kitchen or bathroom is not simple and it’s easy to be disappointed in your colour scheme or layout. Talk to an architect or draftsperson about design, and talk to an interior designer about colours – 75% of us can’t do colour and they’re not as expensive as you might think.”   


5.  Overspending on all your fixtures and finishes


The lure of the shiniest vanity in the shop calls to us all, but try to resist. You don’t need to break the bank to get a great finish, just use a few high-impact items to elevate an otherwise affordable renovation. 

“Pick one or two things with a lot of wow,” Trafford says. “I think beautiful light fittings and taps, even when everything else is basic, make a huge difference.”  


6.  Using friends and family 


Every Kiwi knows a tradie – perfect when you need some work done, right? Maybe, maybe not. Getting the ‘friends and family’ treatment is more likely to mean your job goes at the bottom of the list, says Trafford.  

“People think their mate will be there when they need them each time, because your bathroom reno feels like a major project to you. But to your mate who’s a sparky, it’s a very small project. When they don’t come, they hold everything up.”  


7.  Trying to manage your own renovation 


A kitchen or bathroom reno could involve eight different trades – finding and managing them all can be a nightmare. 

Use a primary builder whose work you’ve seen and been impressed by, rather than a family member or Facebook friend. They can manage the tradies, get them to site, and make sure your kitchen is done in two weeks instead of taking ten.  

Don’t forget to check their references. And always sit down and talk to them about their quote so fully understand what’s included, what isn’t, and what it’s likely to cost you.   

“Overall, the biggest mistake is rushing in,” says Trafford. “Sit back and think things through before you do anything. You should plan, and plan, and plan again.”  


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