House Renovations: Your Questions Answered


Renovating a home can unlock the door to a happier future for all the family, but house renovations are not easy to master. Thankfully, you can instantly put yourself in a far stronger position simply by making the right preparations.

Smith & Sons are experienced contractors that have helped hundreds of homeowners with the home renovations. Over the years, we’ve found that most have the same questions and concerns. Here are some of the most frequently asked issues with a little advice on how to make the most of your proposed renovations.


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Quick Access Contents:

What should you look for when buying a house to renovate?

What house renovations need council approval?

Where should you start when renovating a home?


Build A New Home

How much does it cost to renovate a home?

Is it possible to finance home renovations?

Refinancing your current home loan

Personal loans

Credit Cards & Overdraft

How can you renovate on a budget?

What are the best ways to modernise an old house?

How long does it take to do house renovations?

How should you renovate a home with asbestos?


What should you look for when buying a house to renovate?

For many homeowners, the renovation process begins with buying a new property. After all, if you’ve been living in the home for several years, it’s likely that a decorating cycle is the only type of work that will need doing – unless you opt for an extension or a loft conversion.

Still, in most cases, buying a property is the first step on the journey to building your dream home. Opting for a fixer-upper or a home that needs serious renovation is a conscious decision, and there are many reasons to do this. It’s cheaper, forces you to actively stamp your authority on the property, and provides a great sense of satisfaction upon completion.

There are several places to look for renovation properties, including auctions and your standard estate agents. Meanwhile, many sellers now utilise online self-selling platforms while cash buying companies may also be looking to sell properties they’ve recently acquired.

Whenever searching for potential renovation properties, it’s vital that you know what to look for. Your checklist should include;

  • Affordability.

  • Potential resale value, even if you’re going to live there.

  • Structural foundations.

  • Choice of materials and how easy it will be to repair.

  • Power supplies to the property.

  • Plumbing.

  • The shape of windows and fixings.

There are many other elements that can impact the cost of the future renovation project. With this in mind, it’s worth hiring a contractor before buying the property. This way, when taking on the inspections and surveys, you’ll be able to gain accurate quotes before deciding whether to carry on with the project.

If the finances are right and the property is a suitable place to bring your vision to life, you won’t go far wrong.


What house renovations need council approval?

When buying a renovation property, it’s essential that you acknowledge the potential obstacles. Without council approval, your hopes of turning proposed changes into a reality may be squashed before you’ve even got the project up and running.

A number of home renovations will need council approval. Smith & Sons can advise you on the requirements for your specific location. However, some of the projects that need building consent from the BCA include;


  • Demolition of existing structures.

  • Alterations to structural work.

  • Repairs to leaking buildings.

  • Earthworks for extensions.

  • Decks and retaining walls over 1.5m high.

  • Fencing over 2m high.

  • Installing a swimming pool.

Whatever your plans might be, it’s always best to check that your projects are permitted. Otherwise, you could inadvertently see your dream turn into a nightmare.


Where should you start when renovating a home?

Whether you’ve recently purchased the property or allowed the home to rot doesn’t matter. One of the first questions you need to ask is whether to renovate it or replace it by starting from scratch. Until you’ve answered this question, you’ll never put your plans into practice.



House renovations are advised when the building has architectural charm or when keeping the structural foundations in place will save money. Likewise, the environmental impacts often mean that renovation is the way to go.

Perhaps most notably, however, the renovation projects are easier to get planning permission for.


Build A New Home

Demolition and starting again can be useful when you want to change the orientation or position of the property. It can also be used as a way to gain the emotional reassurance that everything is as it should be, avoiding nasty surprises down the line.

Financially, the zero-rated VAT aspects are another major selling point.


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How much does it cost to renovate a home?

The financial elements will rightly sit at the top of every homeowner’s agenda, which is why knowing the expected budget requirements is an essential part of your planning.

In reality, there are many contributing factors to consider ranging from your geographic location to the current state of the home and the rooms that are to be modernised. All of those issues, along with your choice of materials and level of participation will influence the overall costs of the project.

As a rule of thumb, though, New Zealand properties are likely to cost around $2,200 per square metre. Therefore, you can expect to encounter the following costs for various parts of the property;

Small kitchens/Large kitchens: $20,000/$40,000.

Small-to-mid bathrooms: $5,000

Large bathrooms: $10,000-$20,000.

House extensions: $60,000.

There are many alternative jobs that you may wish to consider while the fluctuation in costs between a cosmetic upgrade and a structural renovation are massive too. If you’re in need of a helping hand throughout this stage of the preparations, Smith & Sons are only a call away.


Is it possible to finance home renovations?

Let’s face it; covering the costs of a five or six-figure renovation in cash isn’t easy. Thankfully, a lack of cash on the hip needn’t spell the end of your home renovation dreams.

Once you’ve created a thorough plan to create an honest budget expectation, it’s possible to take advantage of several funding options depending on your situation. The most frequently used financing options include:


Refinancing your current home loan

Taking out another mortgage on the property is a great way to finance the renovations. While it will extend the term length and interest of your homeowner loan, the interest rates are probably lower than many of the alternatives.

Besides, if the renovations can actively add value to the property, it will be an investment that’s well worth making.


Personal loans

When remortgaging isn’t an option, personal loans can be the perfect alternative. This is additionally a preferred route when you only need to borrow a small amount, such as anything under $10,000.

Secured loans are usually cheaper than unsecured loans while paying back over a shorter timeframe will reduce the overall interest rates.


Credit Cards & Overdraft

If the sum to be borrowed is only for a few thousand dollars, it may be worth looking at credit cards and personal overdraft facilities as a way to cover the expense of your renovation projects. While it will still be a form of debt, it avoids the need to take out new accounts.

Just remember to pay them off as soon as you can, especially on the credit cards, as the interest rates can be very high.

It’s worth remembering that some home upgrades can be tax deductible too. For commercial and rental properties, the list is extensive. However, even homeowners can claim home office upgrades and similar jobs as tax expenses, which can certainly aid your finances.





How can you renovate on a budget?

Renovation jobs can cost thousands of dollars, even when you’re only transforming a small area of the house. When added to the costs of buying the property in the first place, it’s always a good idea to find ways of reducing the overheads without affecting the quality of work.

Taking the DIY approach and calling in favours from skilled friends should significantly reduce the costs, although there are naturally some negative factors to consider. Nonetheless, removing the labour costs and repurposing old materials can make a significant impact.

Other simple ways to reduce the expense include;

  • Replace cupboard doors rather than the units altogether.

  • Encourage a neighbour to upgrade their front garden before completing a joint project.

  • Make smarter decisions such as tiling one bathroom wall rather than the whole place.

  • Don’t be afraid to shop around for materials and use ex-display models.

  • Look for subtle design changes that make a big impression.

  • Stay organised in an attempt to avoid delays.

  • Speak to the authorities about possible grants and financial support.

Work smarter, not harder, and you should see that the overall expenses tumble. Whether it’s done out of necessity or you just want to make your budget work harder, this is crucial for a successful home renovation.


What are the best ways to modernise an old house?

Bringing an outdated home into the modern day can seem almost impossible. In truth, though, it can be a lot easier than you might first think.

While keeping an eye on the initial outlay is vital, you’ll also want to make home renovations that add value to the property. Finding the right balance between those two ideas should enable you to find the best projects. Here are some of the best ideas to get you started.

  • Convert unused spaces, such as spare rooms or the attic into a home office. This is very much a 21st-century requirement, and it could add serious value to the property while also providing an extra sense of function.

  • Replace the front door and windows while renovating the roof and insulation. Not only will this improve the appearance of the property and add value, but it’ll also reduce energy bills. Frankly, going green is essential for the modern home. Re-cladding adds a newer charm.

  • Focus on creating the perceptions of space. Extensions will add physical dimensions, but building hidden storage and learning to utilise the walls will work wonders. A light colour scheme that’s supported by lots of natural lighting should work wonders too.

  • Add a deck to the garden. This increases the home’s usable space and can completely transform your relationship with the property too. Modern additions like lighting and patio heaters are sure to bring a modern touch to the home too.

  • Prioritise kitchen renovations and a bathroom renovations. Aside from the evolutions relating to interior design, these parts of the home are now blessed with modern appliances and a host of new features. If these rooms are left in the past, the house will continue to look outdated.


How long does it take to do house renovations?

At Smith & Sons, our experience of working with clients shows that the duration of house renovations will vary massively from one homeowner to the next. Frankly, there are hundreds of variables to consider. Everything from the time it takes for negotiations and contracts to the size and type of projects needed will influence the results.

Kitchen renovations include a lot of difficult work so could take anywhere between a fortnight and a few months. Bathroom renovations are noticeably quicker with a  complete remodel being completed in a month or so. Of course, some jobs can be completed simultaneously, but you should always add a little cushion to your estimates. Everything from the weather to contractor illnesses or late material deliveries could delay the process.

Finally, you should note that the DIY approach will almost always be slower than hiring a professional team.


How should you renovate a home with asbestos?

One of the biggest problems that you may face when purchasing an old home relates to the threat of asbestos. The potential damage that the minerals can cause to the lungs is well known, which is why newer buildings do not use this material. Replacing the outdated products should be a priority for any homeowner dealing with this issue.

Over one-third of people contracting asbestos-related health problems are home renovators. So, nobody should take this on as a DIY project as one mistake could be deadly.

After conducting the asbestos survey, you’ll want to notify the authorities before hiring qualified professionals to complete the work. Due to the exposure, you won’t want to be around the property during this phase, particularly if you’re pregnant or have children. The fibres are impossible to spot with the naked eye, which is yet more reason to use the experts.

Smith & Sons can take care of this challenge as well as any other aspect related to your home renovations. See our previous projects for inspiration and give us a call to discuss your proposals. Turning your dream home into reality never felt so simple.

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