Usually, (and we use this term cautiously) home renovations are exciting projects undertaken with enthusiasm and passion.

That new bathroom that you’ve been wanting since nineteen-voetsek or the kitchen that embarrasses you every time your mother-in-law comes to visit – they are finally happening!

Cue handclapping and small happy dance.

But, hold your horses for just a mo here Susan. This is not the time to let your excitement override your good judgement…such as it is.

No, do yourself (and your partner) a favour and take three minutes out of your day to find out if you’ve missed anything on your journey into unspeakable decorating divinity.

Home Renovations: Plan the Magic

Some statisticians insist that home renovations often lead to divorce. Hah! What do they know?! But, just in case there’s a sliver of truth to this, consider these issues:

Home renovations electricianDIY or Contractor?

Yes, we know you can tile – but do you really want to? That floor you’re about to tackle is 180 sqm and not as even as one would hope. #headache!

Once you’ve committed to your home renovations and you’ve knocked out that wall, there is no going back.

We chatted to Sheldon Rodger from Amandla Building Projects who offered some pretty sage advice.

He says, “If you are going to use a contractor, then planning is key to success. Sit down with the contractor and let him know exactly what you need and expect from him. Get them to draft up a programme of tasks with deadlines, something you can look at and track your progress.” However, he offers a caution: “Having said that also take into consideration that in our trade there are unfortunately delays such as lead time on suppliers delivery of goods and weather.”

Right, so good communication and realistic expectations are a great start.

Sheldon continues, “Your contractor should consistently be letting you know about problems or delays and updating you on what their next step is going forward. Lack of communication can have a huge effect on the relationship between you and your contractor. You need to start the project as friends and finish it off as friends. And often when this doesn’t happen it was as a result of a lack of communication.”

So, should you just scrap that idea and go it alone?

“In the building trade,” Sheldon warns, “mistakes cost time and money. As a contractor, I have helped fix and seen many a poor DIY job. These are often simple mistakes that could end up costing a fair bit of money.”

Safety Factors

electrical safety home renovationsElectricity cables, gas lines and water pipes tend to have a nasty habit of turning up where you least expect them. The trouble with that is they come with some ugly side effects – like death.

If you are going to go it alone then take a good hard look at your house plans and determine where these outlets and cables run, both in the walls and the floor. Don’t have house plans? Maybe you want to get some. Chat to your local municipality who can pull out a copy for you with a little notice and the right paperwork.

(Personal) Space Planning

Unless you live in a multi-storey 10-bedroom home – or you can live with your in-laws on occasion – you’ll find that once you start pulling up floors and collapsing kitchen cabinets, there’s suddenly nowhere to go. The chaos can be overwhelming.

So plan ahead. If your family bathroom is going to be out of order for a week and your family of 5 all need to use your en-suite, then you’re going to find your mornings a bit of a disaster without proper planning. If your kitchen is going under the knife, then set up your necessary items (i.e. kettle for coffee) in a safe place in another room.

Along with the stress of having strange men in your house or losing your husband in a cloud of wood dust, not having a little haven away from the madness puts you on a fast train to crazy.

Sheldon’s wisdom? “Trying to do everything at once can become and an absolute nightmare. Keep your family as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. Do sections at a time. That way you isolate the mess to one area.”

Privacy and Security

instant paper blindsTrying to separate the dust and disorder from day-to-day life in the middle of home renovations is a tricky one. We recommend grabbing some instant paper blinds to screen off the dirty bits. These handy little blinds are cheap and easy to use, perfect for popping onto a window separating day-to-day life from the anarchy in the next room. They are also reusable so it’s easy to stick them up somewhere else once you’ve completed your project. An added benefit is keeping your personal space – well – personal, while contractors are working on the renovation.

Of course, in today’s uncertain world, it’s also a good idea to put away your valuables and breakables and try to have someone around when contractors are in your home.

Home Renovations, Time and Money!

That’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. In a telling article in Huffington Post, timelines on home renovations were described as “wildly unpredictable”, and the comment was made that a kitchen, bathroom or basement can take “one month if you’re lucky…but plan for 2 to 6 months!”

The reasons are easy to see. You dismantle the kitchen to find that your electrical cables have been attacked by rodents who have chewed through the wiring. Or you pull out cupboards to find a sheet of mould or wood rot that you didn’t bank on having to fix.

Of course, as your timeline stretches, so does your budget. Our persistent optimism says, hope for the best,  but plan for the worst.

What you don’t need is a half-completed bathroom and no money left in the kitty.

Sheldon weighs in on this matter. “One of the situations I often find myself in when dealing with clients is trying to do the “dirty” work now. For example,  you want to change wooden windows to aluminium but can’t afford it now. So you finish the renovations, new paint floor coverings etc. A few months go by and now you want to change those old windows. More dust, more mess, and touch-ups to an already painted wall. For a little extra it could have all be done at once and maybe something else could have been left out like that fancy chandelier.”

Enjoy the Project

There will come a time when you are standing in the sixth circle of hell with your hands in your dust-covered hair, wondering what possessed you to even start such an undertaking. That doesn’t sound like fun to me at all.


Go back to the beginning of this article. Aha, yes, this was supposed to be fun and exciting, right? Nothing sucks the joy out of a project quicker than unmet expectations. Which is exactly why careful planning, extensive lists, a realistic budget and some serious homework should be the start of a home renovation project.

Not a sledgehammer!

We’d love to hear your comments and experiences on your home renovation projects.