Renovating? Avoid these common blunders

Renovating is a costly exercise. You want to make sure that you are getting what you want at the most affordable price in the most convenient timeframe possible. But if you ask anyone who has just completed a renovation they will tell you this is easier said than done.

Mellony Ramalho

African Bank’s Group Executive: Sales, Branch Network, Mellony Ramalho says many people who approach the bank for a loan do so because they want to renovate. “Improving your home or office is an investment that promises long-term rewards but the key is to ensure that you are getting the most for the large amount of money that you are putting in. So often we see people having to pay more than expected to fix up shoddy workmanship or find themselves years down the line still trying to complete the job.”

She offers the following advice for renovators. “Firstly, you need to make sure that your contractor has a good track record. The only way to do this is to check references. Make calls and visit completed sites. Ask contractors which suppliers they will be using and call suppliers to check how reliable the contractor is to work with. When you are investing a large sum into a project it is important that you trust your contractor.”

She strongly suggests getting several quotes for the job and not necessarily going for the cheapest one. “It is more important to find a contractor that you want to work with than purely looking at price. Rather try and negotiate the price with your preferred contractor. He or she may be willing to match a lower price or offer a discount.”

The same applies to building materials. “It is always tempting to go with the cheapest price but this doesn’t always result in savings in the long run. A better quality material will probably last longer and handle wear and tear better. This is especially the case when it comes to items like cement, bricks, grouting, tiles and fittings. Ask for quotes on a variety of brands. Going for a middle range priced item is generally a good rule of thumb unless your contractor advises differently,” says Ramalho.

Lastly Ramalho says it is important to factor in the inconvenience of your house being a construction site for several months and what the cost implications may be. “You may need to hire a portable toilet if your bathroom is being renovated or even move your kitchen into the dining room for some time, for example. You may need to purchase a few items to get you through the temporary living arrangement so it’s important to bear these costs in mind.”

“Ideally you should have a budget before starting the job and try to stick to the budget. I would, however, recommend that you keep some money aside for any hidden costs that may arise. Realistically building projects always take longer than initially thought and quoted on so prepare yourself for the long haul. Ensure you are getting the best investment for your money and always stay on top of the progress of the project. Renovating can be very rewarding if done properly. Enjoy the journey,” Ramalho concludes.    

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