Sydney home renovations – How to avoid a costly disaster

Laorence Nohra

Sydney home renovations – How to avoid a costly disaster

By Laorence Nohra | 09 August 2018

The penalties for unlicensed builders attempting to operate in NSW are severe, with combined penalties potentially costing unlawful businesses over $100,000.

Despite the high costs of getting caught, it does not stop determined unlicensed operators from taking your money if you are unlucky enough to fall into their trap.

Unlicensed trade work is a thriving industry, as evidenced by the hundreds of complaints to the NSW Fair Trading annually. While there are plenty of illegitimate businesses vying for your renovation dollars, a little bit of knowledge can go a long way at ensuring you only hire legitimate, high-quality companies and avoid a costly disaster.

Here are five strategies you can use to ensure your Sydney home renovation goes smoothly, finishes on time, and stays under budget.

1. Find a reputable Sydney builder

The right builder can make all the difference to a renovation. You will want to make sure your builder has plenty of experience in renovations, will show up on time, will clean up after themselves, and will be considerate of noise, so the neighbours aren't always banging on your door to complain.


By using trusted online directories that vet builders thoroughly, you’ll be able to find reputable builders in your local area. Avoid directories that allow “any” builder to easily join and register online.

2. Get prepared with a Sydney architect

Architects are the best people to help you create a renovation that will work with the space you have available, in ways you will never have thought about or considered.

They will also be able to create a design that will stay within your budget and ensure it complies with all local council regulations.

3. Work within a realistic renovation budget

If you have spoken to your bank or mortgage broker, you will by now have a firm budget for what you can afford to spend on your renovation. It is important to be realistic with your budget when planning out your renovation for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, your renovation design will drastically affect the end price. Even adding a few inches to a room can set costs soaring to beyond what you can afford.

Over capitalising is a very real threat when considering a renovation, but how much it will affect your design considerations will depend on the area in which you live. In some areas, it is very easy to spend tens of thousands on a renovation, only to end up adding just a few extra thousand to the value of the property.

The above isn't an ideal situation to be in if you have spent thousands of dollars to have plans drawn up, only to have your bank deny you the finance because you will be overcapitalizing.

4. Don’t risk it by taking shortcuts

It’s tempting to take shortcuts and cut corners to shave a couple of thousand dollars off the top of the cost of your renovation, but this is always a bad move.

Cutting corners will usually equate to sub-standard work that may not fall within council guidelines. It could also mean expensive repairs in a few years because the renovation wasn’t built to last.

5. Go for cheaper taps, not cheaper tradies

Always do due diligence on your tradies before you let them pick up a tool. Most trades in NSW require a license, and a quick check online is all you need to do to make sure that anybody you are hiring is current with their license and is qualified.

When it comes to tradies, cheaper is rarely better. If you really need to save a few dollars buy cheaper taps, as skimping on your tradie will only end up costing you more in the long run.



Budget is defined as the estimation of expenses made over a specified time for the purchase of goods or services.

About the author

Laorence Nohra

Laorence Nohra

Laorence Nohra is director of... Read more

Sydney home renovations – How to avoid a costly disaster
Laorence Nohra
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