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A common mistake many property owners make is to rush into a new renovation project without thinking it through without proper planning. Here are the first five steps in sequence one needs to take when contemplating a new renovation project and selecting a renovation contractor:


1.    List – The very first step one needs to take when renovation is still a vague dream on the horizon is to list everything that needs to be done. The result is a so-called “wish-list”. This list contains no details, but merely captures in broad strokes what needs to be done, for example “Create more light in bathroom”, “Replace kitchen counter-tops” etc.

2.    Prioritise – The next step is to take your wish-list and become more realistic and practical. Although one often wants everything done at once, constraints such as available funds and time simply does not allow one to do so. It is crucially important for the property owner to prioritise and decide which projects, phases or aspects of a project need to be attended to first.

3.    Choose a team – The reason why this step is placed before the budgeting step, is because a contractor worth his salt can assist greatly in both budget and planning. The criteria that can be used in choosing which renovation contractor to use for a project, includes:

·         Price. It is important to procure more than 1 quote to get an idea what a realistic costing for the project is.

·         Knowledge. At the quote visit one can get a very good gut feeling whether the contractor knows his way around renovation projects.

·         Method. The good contractor will immediately pick up on your prioritised list and scope the project accurately. This scope should then form part of the quote. Beware of quotes which contain only the cost.

·         Guarantees. Beware of contractors who are unwilling to give you workmanship guarantees on work done. Also check whether there is some form of public liability insurance in the name of the contractor.

·         Testimonials. The best way to check if you are dealing with a reputable contractor is obviously to ask people who have been clients beforehand. If a contractor cannot provide you with a list of clients to phone or view sites at, stay away.

4.    Budget – Although one has obviously planned to spend a ballpark amount before choosing a contractor, once the team has been appointed, a proper and detailed budget can be drawn up. Make sure that you list all the scope items (everything that needs to be done) and that each person involved knows exactly who is responsible for which cost. Some people prefer if the contractor supplies and installs everything; others prefer to purchase finishes like tiles and fittings themselves. Be it as it may, it is extremely important to draw up a comprehensive budget and stick to it.

5.    Plan – Any project, big or small, succeeds or fails because of what happens before the first nail is hammered. The importance of planning can never be over-emphasised. Again, a good renovation contractor will understand project management and will also understand the role that planning plays. As property owner, it is also one’s right to be kept informed of the planning of the project, and a good contractor will understand this. The planning phase of the project should include the following:

·         Cost and expense planning

·         Time and duration planning

·         Scope and sequencing planning

·         Communications planning

·         Risk planning

·         Etc.


No project runs 100% according to plan, but if the property owner takes these steps, the risk of the project running away in cost and time is reduced significantly.