When we talk to people about home renovations (and yes we talk to a lot!) we usually find they are in one of three stages with their home renovation plans:

  • I want to renovate but have no idea where to start
  • I want to renovate and have a few ideas but not sure of the next step, and
  • I want to renovate and have my plans ready to go!

So if you are in one of these stages, well done you are in the right place! At Smith & Sons, we realize home renovations are not a product but they are a journey that needs to be followed through step by step to achieve the best result.

With each renovation being as unique as you are, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to renovating so it’s critical that we guide you through your own personal home renovation experience.


Ok, if you find yourself in this category – number one don’t panic! We have talked to hundreds of people just like you and have had some amazing outcomes. The good thing about not knowing where to start is that you are perfectly positioned to begin your renovation journey on the right foot! Beginning a home renovation really is a big project, and what can often happen is people start trying to research on-line, and ask other people how they went and get a lot of different advice, and pretty soon they get so confused by so much information that the whole thought of a renovation becomes too hard! It’s what we call ‘paralysis by analysis’.

On the flipside, beginning the home renovation process on the right foot can save so much hassle down the track as you have a great foundation to build the rest of the project on. If we get the ducks in a row right from the start, it makes the rest of the process flow so much easier. So in essence, if you are right at the beginning of the process, you have a huge opportunity to do things RIGHT from the start, and in doing so often save a lot of time and money as well. Unfortunately, we have seen many people start down the home renovation track the wrong way and this has inevitably led to a loss of both time and money which is not what we like to see.

So, where to from here? The best idea is to contact us, and the first port of call would be for us to come out and do an initial appraisal of your home, and start to gather some initial ideas about what you want to do with your home that will suit the here and now, and also into the future. Once we have a general idea of what you are trying to achieve, we can get our designer involved and come up with some concepts about what we think the layout and floorplan could look like. We can then come back to you with these ideas, have a good conversation about if this suits, and some initial costings on where the budget might lay for this. If all good, it’s onto the next step, and you can read all about the process here.

If you have a few ideas already on what you would like to achieve, this is a good step forward. What we often find is people have taken the time to think about what changes they need in their home, and have a basic floorplan that they can show us, or, even some notes they have scribbled on a napkin over dinner, and this is ok as well! What that does is gives us a very good idea of how you would like things to look and flow through the home.

Once you have a few ideas, it is tempting to go to the web to get ideas, start thinking about designers, architects, builders and more, but what you need to ensure is that you have these in the right order, and, this is a big one, know how much you are able to spend. It is no use starting to get the ball rolling without having an idea of budget in your plans, as most people you talk to will ask for this. Some people are tempted to try and keep this figure to themselves for fear of a builder spending all of their money, but most builders only ask so that they can build something that is suitable budget-wise for you.

So where to from here? If you have some idea of what you want, the next step would be to get in touch and let’s start the conversation about your ideas. A site visit would be ideal just to make sure what you want can technically be done without any hitches. Getting a builder involved early really is the way to go as if you just hand your plans to a designer to create a design concept, they may draw something way out of your scope budget-wise. A builder will let you know what can be done, and by having the budget conversation upfront, we can make sure what we get drawn up matches your expectations. One we have your ideas in concrete and a budget in mind, we will get our designers to draw up a concept, throw that around with you until you are completely happy and give you an indication of the cost to build before a full-scale estimate. You can read all about our process here.

Ok, so you have done a lot of the legwork, and you have a set of plans ready to hand to a builder to get a cost estimate done, and of course, we are very happy to do so for you! However, one of the biggest mistakes we see people make is hand out plans to 3 different builders and wait for the cheapest price to come back, and we think this is prone to major issues, let us explain.

  • Someone will always have a better price. Whatever you do, someone will always come in at a price to undercut the next guy, and some time no matter the cost, they just want work to bring in more cash. The trouble with this is, if he is really cheap (as we have discussed above) he HAS to be missing some things out of the job that he will want to charge you for later. In our business, we call buying on price ‘a race to the bottom’, and it often turns out that way.
  • There can be a huge difference in what is actually included in quotes. Each builder will have a different quoting process, and a difference in opinion of what is needed in the jobs, what extra services and trades are needed, the list goes on. So naturally, from the outside you may think ‘how different can the prices be’, but the reality is there can be quite a disparity between quotes.
  • Comparing ‘apples for apples’ can often be quite difficult. As we have explained above, the inclusions in each quote can be miles apart, and unless the quotes are very concise and clear, it can be a battle to know exactly what is, and is not, included in the various quotes. There is no prescribed ‘formula’ for a home renovation quote, hence quotes from builders can be written and laid out differently which makes comparisons quite difficult, and may require a lot of back and forth between each builder to find out what is included in their quote.
  • Every home renovation is different. Even comparing a home renovation to a new home build, at least in a new project home build there is a usual consistency of labour and materials as that builder has built that particular home many times before. In home renovations, not only is every build a different undertaking, the element of risk varies as well because builders don’t know what they will find when they start demolishing. So, builders have to make allowances for this and those allowances can vary greatly.
  • Last but not least, this is your home we are talking about. For may people it is their largest and most valuable asset, plus the place they live and will create memories for years to come. It is simply not wise to base what can be a life-changing decision on price alone.

What is the alternative?

There’s no doubt that a home renovation is a big undertaking, and there is also no doubt that price will be a factor of some sort. But what we propose instead of a price-based decision, is you begin a decision- making process that starts with relationship and trust in a builder. What this means is instead of throwing out a set of building plans to three builders hoping for the best price, you start by talking to builders and finding one you firstly like and could see working in your home, and see if that relationship develops into a trust that you are then happy to trust them with your project.

To some this would seem counterintuitive because they just want to know price first, but what price do you put on having a builder who you know, like and trust working in sometimes very private parts of your home, knowing them and their team hold you, your home and your family in high regard? What price do you put on a builder who has the experience & qualifications to complete your home safely and in an acceptable timeframe? Instead, you get the near to cheapest guy who just wants to get in and get out as quick as possible to make a quick buck? When you shop on price, you miss out on so many ‘intangibles’ that in the end make such a difference to your whole renovation journey.

And, of course, one part of the trust is being open and honest about your budget with the builder. There’s no point trying to deceive a builder and play tricks with budget because you only waste your time and theirs. Be honest and upfront with your budget, because as you develop that trusted relationship you will realise they are there to give you the most they can with your budget, because a great builder wants to leave every client happy, as they say in the building game you are only as good as your last job, and they need positive client referrals to keep new leads coming in.

  • I want to renovate, but have no idea where to start!

    Ok, if you find yourself in this category – number one don’t panic! We have talked to hundreds of people just like you and have had some amazing outcomes. The good thing about not knowing where to start is that you are perfectly positioned to begin your renovation journey on the right foot! Beginning a home renovation really is a big project, and what can often happen is people start trying to research on-line, and ask other people how they went and get a lot of different advice, and pretty soon they get so confused by so much information that the whole thought of a renovation becomes too hard! It’s what we call ‘paralysis by analysis’.

    On the flipside, beginning the home renovation process on the right foot can save so much hassle down the track as you have a great foundation to build the rest of the project on. If we get the ducks in a row right from the start, it makes the rest of the process flow so much easier. So in essence, if you are right at the beginning of the process, you have a huge opportunity to do things RIGHT from the start, and in doing so often save a lot of time and money as well. Unfortunately, we have seen many people start down the home renovation track the wrong way and this has inevitably led to a loss of both time and money which is not what we like to see.

    So, where to from here? The best idea is to contact us, and the first port of call would be for us to come out and do an initial appraisal of your home, and start to gather some initial ideas about what you want to do with your home that will suit the here and now, and also into the future. Once we have a general idea of what you are trying to achieve, we can get our designer involved and come up with some concepts about what we think the layout and floorplan could look like. We can then come back to you with these ideas, have a good conversation about if this suits, and some initial costings on where the budget might lay for this. If all good, it’s onto the next step, and you can read all about the process here.

  • I want to renovate and have a few ideas, but not sure of the next step?

    If you have a few ideas already on what you would like to achieve, this is a good step forward. What we often find is people have taken the time to think about what changes they need in their home, and have a basic floorplan that they can show us, or, even some notes they have scribbled on a napkin over dinner, and this is ok as well! What that does is gives us a very good idea of how you would like things to look and flow through the home.

    Once you have a few ideas, it is tempting to go to the web to get ideas, start thinking about designers, architects, builders and more, but what you need to ensure is that you have these in the right order, and, this is a big one, know how much you are able to spend. It is no use starting to get the ball rolling without having an idea of budget in your plans, as most people you talk to will ask for this. Some people are tempted to try and keep this figure to themselves for fear of a builder spending all of their money, but most builders only ask so that they can build something that is suitable budget-wise for you.

    So where to from here? If you have some idea of what you want, the next step would be to get in touch and let’s start the conversation about your ideas. A site visit would be ideal just to make sure what you want can technically be done without any hitches. Getting a builder involved early really is the way to go as if you just hand your plans to a designer to create a design concept, they may draw something way out of your scope budget-wise. A builder will let you know what can be done, and by having the budget conversation upfront, we can make sure what we get drawn up matches your expectations. One we have your ideas in concrete and a budget in mind, we will get our designers to draw up a concept, throw that around with you until you are completely happy and give you an indication of the cost to build before a full-scale estimate. You can read all about our process here.

  • I want to renovate and have plans ready to go!

    Ok, so you have done a lot of the legwork, and you have a set of plans ready to hand to a builder to get a cost estimate done, and of course, we are very happy to do so for you! However, one of the biggest mistakes we see people make is hand out plans to 3 different builders and wait for the cheapest price to come back, and we think this is prone to major issues, let us explain.

    • Someone will always have a better price. Whatever you do, someone will always come in at a price to undercut the next guy, and some time no matter the cost, they just want work to bring in more cash. The trouble with this is, if he is really cheap (as we have discussed above) he HAS to be missing some things out of the job that he will want to charge you for later. In our business, we call buying on price ‘a race to the bottom’, and it often turns out that way.
    • There can be a huge difference in what is actually included in quotes. Each builder will have a different quoting process, and a difference in opinion of what is needed in the jobs, what extra services and trades are needed, the list goes on. So naturally, from the outside you may think ‘how different can the prices be’, but the reality is there can be quite a disparity between quotes.
    • Comparing ‘apples for apples’ can often be quite difficult. As we have explained above, the inclusions in each quote can be miles apart, and unless the quotes are very concise and clear, it can be a battle to know exactly what is, and is not, included in the various quotes. There is no prescribed ‘formula’ for a home renovation quote, hence quotes from builders can be written and laid out differently which makes comparisons quite difficult, and may require a lot of back and forth between each builder to find out what is included in their quote.
    • Every home renovation is different. Even comparing a home renovation to a new home build, at least in a new project home build there is a usual consistency of labour and materials as that builder has built that particular home many times before. In home renovations, not only is every build a different undertaking, the element of risk varies as well because builders don’t know what they will find when they start demolishing. So, builders have to make allowances for this and those allowances can vary greatly.
    • Last but not least, this is your home we are talking about. For may people it is their largest and most valuable asset, plus the place they live and will create memories for years to come. It is simply not wise to base what can be a life-changing decision on price alone.

    What is the alternative?

    There’s no doubt that a home renovation is a big undertaking, and there is also no doubt that price will be a factor of some sort. But what we propose instead of a price-based decision, is you begin a decision- making process that starts with relationship and trust in a builder. What this means is instead of throwing out a set of building plans to three builders hoping for the best price, you start by talking to builders and finding one you firstly like and could see working in your home, and see if that relationship develops into a trust that you are then happy to trust them with your project.

    To some this would seem counterintuitive because they just want to know price first, but what price do you put on having a builder who you know, like and trust working in sometimes very private parts of your home, knowing them and their team hold you, your home and your family in high regard? What price do you put on a builder who has the experience & qualifications to complete your home safely and in an acceptable timeframe? Instead, you get the near to cheapest guy who just wants to get in and get out as quick as possible to make a quick buck? When you shop on price, you miss out on so many ‘intangibles’ that in the end make such a difference to your whole renovation journey.

    And, of course, one part of the trust is being open and honest about your budget with the builder. There’s no point trying to deceive a builder and play tricks with budget because you only waste your time and theirs. Be honest and upfront with your budget, because as you develop that trusted relationship you will realise they are there to give you the most they can with your budget, because a great builder wants to leave every client happy, as they say in the building game you are only as good as your last job, and they need positive client referrals to keep new leads coming in.

Ready to start your renovation?