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Renovating? There's more to it than meets the eye!

When you decide to renovate your home, your investment property, or your business regardless of whether that renovation is big or small, there are so many decisions to make and it can be a really daunting process. When it gets to the end, it's either fantastic, ok or a disaster you vow never to repeat. The finished product can add value to your life and/or to your property value ... or... not.

Lets break it down over the next couple of blogs.


Ok so "everything is possible depending on your budget".

My builder and I say this to clients all the time. "Yes, we can.." ... which is generally followed by "but..."

That "but" is normally always about how the budget would be affected by the doing so.

I'll give you an example, "yes, we can take out that wall, but it is structural so we would need to put in a supporting beam that will hold the weight of the ceiling span so that it doesn't collapse on you" That's budget right there. Most people with some knowledge of design and/or building can say that to you. Most will just leave it there. Adding a beam means that you need to calculate the right 'strength' of the beam (generally dependant on size & material of said beam) to hold the span. Who do you trust to calculate that? Does this mean that you now need drafted plans? building permits? How long does that process take? What does that process cost? What if you or your builder shortcut that process? Are your family safe from the ceiling collapsing as some point? Is your home insurance void if it collapses?

If we delve deeper using this example, there's also a huge difference between having a beam sit below the finished ceiling level - obviously cheaper BUT maybe doing that won't give enough clearance for a comfortable (or legal) distance between the floor and ceiling levels? Alternatively, what's required to have the beam inside the ceiling frame?

One of the key things to consider before you embark on a renovation is "What is my dream budget?" followed by "What is my realistic budget" and the bit that many people forget..."what budget do I have for contingency?" When I meet with my clients initially, they may not yet have a defined value for these amounts but in most cases, they know what what their upper most limit is. Something to factor in is IF your project comes in at your upper most limit and something goes wrong, or once the builder demolishes and opens up he/she finds a bigger issue that needs to be addressed, do you have the capacity to find the funds to cover this cost?

How big is your budget?

Some people might break a budget into 3 classifications: big; medium; small.

I think this is misleading. What is big for me and big for you are likely to be two very different figures. It also doesn't take into account that different rooms by their very nature, function and size have different budget requirements.

Lets use the following terms instead.

Healthy budget = more freedom in your selections and trades

Average budget = lets be careful where we put our (lets face it - hard earned) dollars so that we get the best result for the budget we have

Tight budget = we need to be really careful about value for money

Regardless of your budget size, mistakes are costly and in perspective. Say you have a healthy budget and you selected $200/m tiles in large quantities - that adds up to a large & costly mistake if they don't work for whatever reason. Equally on a tight budget, $50/m tiles in smaller quantites that go wrong, well, that percentage of your budget has the same effect.

How much is an average bathroom?

Ok so what is average? According to the Victorian Building Authority, the average family bathroom has a 12sqm floor and the average ensuite has a 6sqm floor. 'Average' though is not about size but about quality and the exclusiveness of the fixtures and fittings. Think standard / discounted ranges verses exclusive, durable and specialised ranges. There is always a reason why some fixtures / fittings are discounted or cheaper and that is often due to the quality of the materials and processes used in manufacture.

When you are investing your money into a bathroom (or laundry or kitchen), you want to be confident that your investment and the finished room is going to last you for more than the next couple of years. A well designed and built bathroom should see you through the next 10 plus years.

I have a lot of clients who want to know an 'average price for an average sized bathroom' which again, is perspective. What's average for me might not be for you, what's an averaged priced tile.... you get where I'm going?

The next question that gets raised is "my bathroom is smaller than average so it should be cheaper right?"... in short, the answer is not necessarily. There might be a slightly smaller quantity of tiles required but you still need the same plumbing and electrical work. Tiling can sometimes be harder in a smaller space as there may be more cuts.

What happens if there is something I really want but it's not in the budget?

While you are working on getting your budget right, consider what your list of priorities is for that space/s.

"What would I be prepared to sacrifice if there is something I really want but it's not in my budget?" An experienced Interior Designer can help you work this through and find solutions. Say there is a stunning tile that comes with a stunning pricetag that tops your budget out. Your Interior Designer should be able to either find a similar tile in a more appropriate price bracket, or work your design in a way that your dream tile is incorporated but as a smaller feature balanced out with more budget friendly tiles. Maybe we make the decision to keep the tiles but take out the bath that you realistically may not use often.

How do you bring all of this together and get the best value for your money?

Quick and easy answer?

Use an Interior Designer! Select one who is suitably qualified and experienced to be able to bring your interior dreams come true.

Choose an Interior Designer who has completed projects that reflect the style that you like, where their portfolio is their own (not full of stock photos) and they have project testimonials.

How does an Interior Designer fit into my budget?

Selecting an Interior Designer is a bit like selecting your fixtures or tiles. Simply put - you get what you pay for.

Consider this... Whilst working with an Interior Designer is an additional cost to your budget, an experienced and qualified designer has established relationships and history with trades and suppliers. As they guide you through from budget and concept stage, so too do they guide you through execution and completion. They have a vested interest in ensuring that you are delivered what is promised. They know how to blend beauty and functionality. There is no trial and error. If issues arise, they are experienced in problem solving.

Working with an experienced and qualified Interior Designer can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Renovating your home is an investment and one not made lightly. Most designers will work in a way that suits you - with as much or as little hands on involvment in the execution of the design.

Be open to alternatives from your original vision as an Interior Designer who has a wealth of experience will be able to offer ideas and solutions that may far exceed your initial expectations.

Interestingly, despite the intimate relationship that you have with a designer and the trust (and money) that you place in one, anyone can be an "Interior Designer'. Whilst we have an industry body, the Design Institue of Australia (DIA), there is no requirement to join it and no governing body that requires certain qualifications to advertise or execute interior design. I personally find this strange as virtually everyone else in the building industry from architects to plumbers, realestate agents to electricians are required to have relevant training to receive their appropriate industry qualification and be registered by their relevant governing body.

As a qualified, insured and experienced Interior Designer, I can offer you alternatives in design that can be more effective, durable and sustainable as I am constantly in touch with the changes and innovation in the design industry.

Brinnie T Design is a multi award winning Interior Design Studio servicing Phillip Island, Bass Coast, Gippsland and Melbourne. We also specialise in Neuro-sensitive and Accessible Design. Brinnie T Design is a member of the DIA and the Centre of Universal Design Australia and an active participant in the Australian design community.



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