Renovations and alterations can be daunting experiences. While a new build has its own stresses, there is something far more personal having the spaces we are already so familiar with changed.

Having gone through this experience myself, despite all my knowledge and experience in Architecture, my appreciation for the process from my client perspective deepened. Below is a few lessons that I learnt, things that previously I had been unaware of it, whilst only looking at it from a design perspective.

My learnings are:

1. Make time for decisions. I am organized, having made my choice of all bathroom and kitchen fittings, however there were still many decisions to make. The pressure with answering all the builders, plumbers and electricians questions was simply that I couldn’t hold them up, and time was limited, meaning down time in the evenings and evening during the day became consumed with the renovation

2. Set a Healthy budget with a contingency. I had a spreadsheet, I had the quotes, but there were things that cropped up, the roof needed attention in a hurry, the demolition stage took longer because of the tough old state house wall linings. All of this added in little ways to the budget, and so I found my contingency well and truly used up.

3. Plan for Flexibility in your job. As issues cropped up on site I found I had to be increasingly available to talk to my builder. I often had to jump in my car and race around to site to understand the issue that we had uncovered, as with alterations much stuff crops up unexpectedly. I was incredibly grateful being self employed.

4. Consider moving out. Building sites are noisy, dusty, messy and not to mention dangerous. When having building work done on your home, consider moving out. It does allow the process to flow more freely, not to mention can reduce a large amount of stress on you and your family. Also kitchens and bathrooms are hard rooms to stage work on, as when the water is turned off, its all turned off.


I hope that this gives you some guidance on what to expect with an alteration. We tend to focus so much on what its going to be like at the end of the project, that we miss the thinking of what its going to feel like with right in the middle of it.


If you are considering an alteration, extension, addition or renovation and are looking for some guidance on the process and what it might look like for you, click HERE to organize a complimentary 15 minute chat with me, and we can see how a Design Advice Consultation can help you with your project. 

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Prefab NZ Member    Licenced Building Practitioner    New Zealand Green Building Council
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