Even a good renovation project that has been meticulously planned, with detailed drawings, accurate quotes, and a carefully considered building strategy can incur variations.
No matter how well prepared you and your builder are, plans can change. Any change to the original plan is a variation and can complicate the project by increasing the overall cost, delaying the completion date, or requiring a change to the council consent.
Contrary to popular belief, variations most often originate from the homeowner – in fact, research conducted by MyHome Renovations found around 70% of all changes to renovation plans come at the request of the home owner. The remaining 30% come about due to unknown issues with the existing house or requests for extra work from the council. Although many variations are made for good reason, some are unnecessary and could be avoided with forethought and planning.
Here’s some common variations – and how to avoid them:
Costs and complications
After years of experience in the renovation field, the team at MyHome Renovations have a pretty good idea of the cost of variations. Our data shows that on average, changes to original plans add up to around 10% of the total cost of the project. Those costs come from extra materials and products, added labour for installation and paying an architect or designer to alter plans.
We advise homeowners to set aside a contingency fund of 10-15% of the total cost of the build before the project starts. It’s a win-win – if the unexpected happens, you’re covered; if everything goes smoothly, you have some extra cash set aside at the end of the project for whatever you want.
Many variations are done at the request of the homeowner. Sometimes this is the result of over-optimistic planning – owners will plan to finish parts of the build themselves, often finishing touches like painting work or building a deck – then run out of time as the deadline approaches.
This type of variation leads to extra expense and time for you and the build team as subcontractors need to be arranged last minute.
That’s not to say that owners shouldn’t DIY some parts of the build, just that it’s important to be realistic. Don’t take on a key task if it’s something you’ve never done before, or if you’re busy with your job and your family.
Changing your mind
Many variations are the result of owners changing their mind as they see their new kitchen, bathroom, or lounge come to life. Many homeowners struggle to visualise changes from a plan, and can dislike the results once work is underway.
These types of variations can include changing the layout of a kitchen once cabinetry has been built, adding powerpoints or extra lighting after the electrical work has been completed, and changing fittings after original choices have been installed.
This type of variation can be surprisingly expensive, particularly if it involves subcontractors and/or suppliers. Kitchen manufacturers often have long lead times, which makes changes to cabinets or bench tops very time consuming. Extra plumbing work requires another visit from the plumber, and often a second council inspection, and extra electrical work can be similar. Even changing fittings such as door handles can be expensive, as you may not be able to get a refund on the original choices, and the builder will likely need to install the new ones, doubling the labour cost.
Avoiding change-of-mind variations isn’t always possible, but you can minimise the likelihood by carefully thinking your renovation through before you start. Think about how you use your current kitchen and what your ideal layout would look like, think about your appliances and how many power points you’ll need. Consider natural light sources and how much lighting you’ll need, and really take the time to look at your fitting options – don’t just choose the cheapest or most convenient tap or showerhead.
Some variations are the result of issues with the existing building that weren’t uncovered or known at the planning stage. Most builders will do a thorough inspection before the build starts, but issues like rot, asbestos, unsafe wiring, or framing that isn’t up to code can be hidden until revealed when the build starts. These issues can add significant time and expense that unfortunately won’t be covered in the original price.
If rot is in the house framing, flooring or piles, these elements will need to be replaced, which can be pricey. Often, homeowners are completely unaware of rot in their home, as it is covered by the wall linings, cladding, or window frames.
The building code can cause issues, as builders are required to bring parts of the house up to code to get sign-off from the council. Houses built before the introduction of the code in the early 1990s may have undersized window or door lintels, insufficient insulation, unsafe wiring, or plumbing that doesn’t meet standards. If these problems are discovered during the build, the building team will need to make changes to meet the code, which will usually increase the overall cost.
Roofing structure can be another common problem. Older houses can seem structurally sound, but the roof framing is sagging or weak due to undersized framing and/or lack of adequate support. If the existing roof framing isn’t strong enough to support the new roof, it will obviously need to be fixed by way of new braces or completely replaced. Framing that has sagged over time will need to be addressed to ensure a good finish to your roof.
The house isn’t the only thing that can cause problems. The land under and around the house can be problematic as well.
Rock is one of the most common problems for builders – particularly in volcanic Auckland. If underground rock is discovered where new foundations are due to be built, the project may be delayed, as excavation work will need to be done. And, as you might imagine, this work is not cheap.
Drainage can be similarly time consuming. Often, older houses don’t have drainage that meets current standards, which will mean it needs to be upgraded during the build. In some cases, this can be very complicated, as the council can require the installation of storm-water holding tanks for larger projects.
One variation can lead to others…
No matter how seemingly simple a variation, it has the potential to cause significant delays and increased costs. It’s the flow-on effect – one small change to a kitchen layout may lead to weeks of waiting for a new bench top, which means the plumber can’t install the sink and the tiler can’t finish their job, which delays the entire project for a month and adds to project management costs.
That’s why it’s best to avoid variations as much as possible. Although some things – like rock in the ground or old wiring – can’t be avoided, many variations can be. In our experience, the homeowners who plan carefully, think through their options, and don’t rush into a renovation project, end up with the fewest variations and their budget intact.
Of course, it’s also important to work with a reputable building company specifically experienced in renovations, who will do their due diligence and work hard to pick up on problems with the existing house before the project starts.
So if you’re preparing for a renovation project, take it slow. Think hard about what you’re trying to achieve, engage the right experts and listen to their advice – remember that you’ll be living in your house for many years to come so it’s worth doing right.
Want to get the ball rolling on your renovation? Talk to the team at MyHome Renovations today.
Want a great renovation experience? Then read this
Imagine stepping out onto a sun-drenched deck through a set of doors that were once a window. Or entertaining your friends and family in a new open plan kitchen and dining space rather than being isolated from the action while preparing the meal. There are many improvements you can make to your home without incurring…Read full article
A sleek, modern kitchen with marble countertops, plush carpet, better outdoor flow… dreaming about a renovation is exciting. But before long, the worries start to creep in. It’s understandable. We’ve all heard of those reno nightmares – blown budgets, shoddy workmanship and ever-extending timelines. They are real possibilities and why plenty of our clients have…Read full article
With mortgage rates increasing, stubbornly high inflation and subdued business and consumer confidence, you may be wondering whether now is in fact a good time to undertake home renovations. Despite all the doom and gloom, if funding is available and not likely to cause financial distress, there are some upsides to renovating your home in…Read full article
Renovations can be complicated enough without bringing your neighbours into the mix – but if you own a home on a cross lease, that’s exactly what happens. Cross leases are a surprisingly common form of ownership, with around 215,000 in New Zealand, and roughly half of those in Auckland. They came into being in the…Read full article
With the arrival of the ‘working from home’ (WFM) phenomenon, there has been a distinct increase in the number of inquiries about garage conversions – turning the under-utilised part of your home into a bedroom or an additional living space. It seems like an attractive option – you don’t need to extend the footprint…Read full article
Love it or hate it, thanks to COVID-19 remote working is here to stay – and that means having a functional home office has never been more important. Here at MyHome Renovations, we pride ourselves to be Auckland’s trusted renovation experts. In this blog post, we’re going to discuss what you need to consider before…Read full article
You’ve decided to renovate your home and embarked on your journey to find the right builder. Perhaps you have some plans drawn up already and you’re looking for builders to give you a quote. You start researching for local builders and come across a couple that offer FREE quotes. You send off your plans…Read full article
Life as we know it has changed. COVID-19 has arrived on our idyllic shores stopping us in our tracks, turning our lives upside down and putting our economy at risk of diving into a deep recession. As all New Zealanders face the potential outcomes of this viral pandemic, many homeowners may be wondering whether it’s…Read full article
What you need to know first If you’re dreaming of a transforming your home, the renovation costs will almost certainly be on your mind. Even the planning stage of a renovation involves some costs. So it’s worth making sure you can afford the build, before you begin investing in things like consents and drawings. In…Read full article
Home renovation shows are hugely popular for a reason: Kiwi’s love anything to do with property and they’re entertaining and inspirational. But we can’t believe everything we see on TV, and home renovation shows are no different. There are many reasons why these shows don’t quite match up with real-life renovations. They’re designed to fit…Read full article