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  • Writer's pictureVishal Saxena

10 things to plan for get the best out of your home renovation in Canberra and Sydney Region

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

How to plan your renovation on a budget and to your style is a question we are often asked . We believe renovating or extending or adding to a house in Canberra, Sydney can be an exciting but daunting task, especially if you're doing it for the first time. The process involves a lot of planning, budgeting, and decision-making, but with the right guidance, you can make your dream home a reality.


Modern Kitchen Design by Hyperspace Architecture
Modern Kitchen Design by Hyperspace Architecture

In this blog, we'll discuss the steps you need to take to successfully renovate your home in Canberra, and we'll provide you with some helpful links and resources to make the process easier before you start buy, build or renovate in ACT.


Step 1: Set a budget : How much does a home renovation cost in Canberra or Sydney


How to do my renovation on a budget ? - is a million dollar question :)


Canberra is rather more expensive to build and that has a historical basis and something for another blog post.

Sydney can be a little less dear but it may depend on the are you are building.

To answer this question in a straight manner is hard but one can always give an idea.


- A single storey extension cost which has components of plumbing ( wet areas -toilets and kitchen etc) built in should cost from $3000 per square meter and up depending on specs.


- A double storey extension with of similar specs will be $4000 per square meter and up. (Prices up to 2023 ) It would be best to contact a good architect to discuss your needs and budget before you initiate the exercise of thinking of renovating your house.


- Smaller renovations like a toilet renovation or kitchen renovation can cost more as they are generally more complex in terms of services and expectation of finishes, joinery.


A toilet renovation can cost from $15,000 to $ 30,000


A kitchen renovation can cost from $ 25,000 to $ 45,000 or above.


The first step in any renovation project is to set a budget. You need to know how much money you're willing to spend, and what you want to achieve with that money. You should research the cost of materials, labour, and any permits or inspections that may be required. The ACT Government has a handy guide to budgeting for your renovation project, which includes a budget planner and tips for keeping your costs under control.


Similarly there are tips below for planning your reno is Sydney NSW here;


Step 2: Hire an architect

If you're planning a major renovation, it's a good idea to hire an architect. Hire the best architect in Canberra can help you design a space that meets your needs and fits within your budget. They can also help you obtain the necessary permits and approvals from the relevant agencies. You can find a list of registered architects in the ACT on the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) website.


7 Ossa Place Lyons Canberra Renovation of 70's Home by Hyperspace Architecture
7 Ossa Place Lyons Canberra Renovation of 70's Home by Hyperspace Architecture

A good architect can play a crucial role in the renovation process, from initial planning and design to construction and post-construction. Here are some ways that an architect can assist you in your renovation project:

Design and planning: An architect can help you develop a detailed project brief, assess the feasibility of your project, and develop a design concept that meets your needs and preferences. They can also help you navigate the approval process, such as obtaining permits and complying with building codes and regulations.

Construction documentation: An architect can prepare detailed construction documentation, such as drawings, specifications, and schedules, to ensure that your project is executed accurately and efficiently.

Construction administration: An architect can also assist you during the construction phase, such as by reviewing contractor bids, coordinating with contractors and subcontractors, and resolving any issues or disputes that may arise on site.

Post-construction: An architect can also provide post-construction services, such as monitoring the performance of your renovation project and addressng any issues or defects that may arise.


Step 3: Choose a builder

Team of Architects by Hyperspace Architecture
Team of Architects by Hyperspace Architecture

Choosing the right builder is crucial to the success of your renovation project. You want to find someone who is experienced, reliable, and has a good reputation. The Master Builders Association of the ACT has a directory of members who have been vetted and approved by the association. This can help you find a builder who meets your needs and budget.


Step 4: Obtain approvals

Before you start any renovation work, you need to obtain the necessary approvals from the relevant agencies. This may include building permits, development approvals, and planning approvals. The ACT Government has a helpful guide to the approvals process, which includes information on how to apply for permits and what to expect during the approval process.


Step 5: Consider energy efficiency and sustainability

Energy efficiency is an important consideration when renovating your home. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also save you money on energy bills. The Australian Government's Your Home website has a wealth of information on energy efficiency and sustainable building practices, including a guide to passive solar design.


Green Roofs on Multidwelling Design example for blog by Hyperspace Architecture
Green Roofs on Multidwelling Design

Sustainability: Renovating your home can also be an opportunity to incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly features, such as solar panels, rainwater tanks, and energy-efficient appliances.

There is growing concern about the impact of poor energy efficiency in homes on human health, particularly in relation to cardiovascular disease. According to a study conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) (https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/heatwaves-could-kill-even-healthy-australians), a lack of energy efficiency in homes can lead to increased indoor temperatures, which in turn can increase the risk of heart attacks, particularly in vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.


The study found that on days with high outdoor temperatures, indoor temperatures in poorly insulated homes can exceed 30°C, which can increase the risk of heart attacks by up to 30%. The study also found that poor indoor air quality due to inadequate ventilation can increase the risk of respiratory problems and other health issues.


To address these concerns, the Australian government has implemented a range of policies and initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency in homes. The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) (https://www.nathers.gov.au/) is a national framework that provides a star rating for the energy efficiency of residential buildings based on their design. The scheme is mandatory in some states and territories, including the ACT and Tasmania, and voluntary in others.


In addition to NatHERS, the government has also implemented minimum energy performance standards for new buildings and appliances, as well as funding programs for home retrofits and energy-efficient upgrades.


However, despite these efforts, there are still many homes in Australia that are poorly insulated and have low energy ratings, particularly older homes that were built before energy efficiency standards were introduced.


If you are planning a home renovation in Australia, it is important to consider energy efficiency as part of your design and construction process. An experienced architect can help you incorporate energy-efficient features into your design, such as passive solar heating, insulation, and efficient lighting and appliances.


By investing in energy efficiency, not only can you reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy bills, but you can also improve the health and wellbeing of you and your family.


Step 6: Plan for unexpected issues in renovations

No renovation project goes entirely according to plan. You need to be prepared for unexpected issues that may arise during the renovation process or even some asbestos related issues. This may include issues with the building's structure, plumbing, or electrical systems. An experienced architect or builder can help you identify potential issues before they become major problems. You should also budget for unexpected expenses in your overall budget.


Step 7: Stay organized

Renovating a house can be a chaotic process, but staying organized can help you stay on top of things. You should keep a detailed schedule of the work that needs to be done, as well as a list of materials and supplies that you need to purchase. There are several online tools that can help you stay organized, such as Trello and Asana.


Step 8: Consider resale value

While you may not be planning to sell your home anytime soon, it's still a good idea to consider the resale value of your renovation project. You dont want to over capitalize or under capitalize. It would be good idea to look at renovations in the area and then make a call on the scale or the renovation. It would also be a good idea to speak to your architect about it.


Step 9 : Tips and Tricks for Renovation in Canberra or Sydney


Things to I need to keep in mind while planning my renovation in Canberra, Sydney, Queanbeyan :


1) Can I to continue you stay in your home while the renovation is going on :

This is a very important question which is related to scale of renovation - whether the builder will slow down or does it become a constant irritant for the family. Ultimately is this also related to your health. Micro particles are a constant issue which the building industry continues to discover as a major hazard for trades as well as people exposed to foreign matter . We normally suggest that if you can please leave your home for short or longer periods as necessary. At Hyperspace architects while planning and designing your renovation we like to stage the works in a manner that it can assist the builder and owner to smoothly work through the renovation process.


2) Keep 10 % of the funds for contingencies : Plumbing issues, roof truss issues, waterproofing matters asbestos or any hazardous material can occur at anytime in your home renovation journey

so please keep a certain amount on back of your pocket so you may not have surprise sprung on you from the left side.


3) How to know if you have good builder or how to find a good builder in Canberra : The builders who renovation works are specialist builders. Good architects would usually work with builders who understand renovation and are passionate about with a particular aptitude for it. So do ask your architect to recommend a builder and then see if their quality, delivery and approach matches with your expectations.


actmapi is a fantastic government owned website which can guide you about your site potential and constraints. While you still need to speak to your architect, its always good to understand a bit about the above as that would help you be a more informed client and owner of your site.


5) Collect images which reflect your style : Remember your architect and interior designer are not mind readers. Most designers would like to query you about your design preference and then better them to give you a great design. However if you create a collection of images which reflect your preferences of materials, spaces, feeling of light and colour it gives the designer a great head start. Pintrest, Houzz, are some of the great places where you can build up a library of your dream spaces.


6) How can I cut a tree in my property Canberra or tree removal in Canberra :


Canberra is a unique city which was designed as a Bush capital. Natural landscapes of indigenous variety or European plantation have created the beautiful landscape that we recognize as Canberra today. The landscape is protected by various legislations and hence

trees are a complex matter when it comes to whether you can cut them or even trim/lop branches.


Hyperspace always recommend to speak to a competent Arborist and your architect before undertaking or even considering any tree damaging activity. Some information on trees is available here.


Basically an owner or an architect/ arborist would need to apply to the conservator in TCCS for its removal and it needs to be substantiated, you need to have a good reason that fits one of the numerous criteria listed in the Tree Protection (Approval Criteria) Determination 2006. For example, the tree may undesirable species, have short life expectancy or a disease, is impacting on a home's solar access or it can be proven by the architect through a development application the tree is needed to be cut to make a development possible.


You can speak to Hyperspace Architecture to understand how you can go about managing a tree removal activity with us.



7) Roofs : One of the main challenges when we renovate is how to we add to the existing house and integrate the new roofs. Traditionally most houses in Canberra would have something called Cut roofs which are essentially roofs made by chippies at site with timber beams, purlins and struts that are all cut and nailed together on site. The carpenters construct the internal walls of the home then support the roof structure off it. This was how roofs were done traditionally.

Modern roofs from 80's onwards in Canberra are however likely to be s the typically trusses are manufactured in a local factory, brought to site and can be erected quickly and easily. These trussed are engineered structurally and can span from one external wall of the home to the other. At Hyperspace we like to intergrate our roofs in a manner working with the structure engineer so not only they look great but also allow for changing from tiles to color bond metal roofs should that aesthetic be preffered.


What kind of roof do I have ? A simple way is to just poke your head into the ceiling and see of there are any galvanised nailing plates at where the timber parts join each other, that would make it a truss roof. Conversely Cut roofs have fewer members, nailed joints something which may allow for an attic space.


How does the roof impact my extension : We always need to consult an structure engineer however since a truss roof usually spans between the external walls, i.e.. only the external walls are load bearing it may be easier to modify internal walls in a renovation . A cut roof can rely intermediate walls for transferring of loads down to your internal walls, and required a more nuanced approach. Thus before you start planning your renovation it is prudent check what type of roof we have with an architect.


8) How close to the boundary can I build Canberra?

This is quite a complex question as it governed by where your block is in the city, precinct rules, whether is a corner block or has an open space around it etc.

There are also certain exemptions available under the territory plan by ACTPLA or NCA as the case may be i.e. whether is being done through a development application or an exempt/ certifier approval process. Best to discuss this with your architect to achieve the best outcome in terms of how time, cost on this aspect.



Resources for Renovating Your Home in Canberra


Here are some additional resources to help you with your renovation project in Canberra:


List of 25 helpful links for renovating your home:


  • Australian Institute of Architects: https://www.architecture.com.au/

  • Master Builders Australia: https://www.masterbuilders.com.au/

  • HIA (Housing Industry Association): https://hia.com.au/

  • ACT Government - Planning and Land Authority: https://www.planning.act.gov.au/

  • NSW Government - Department of Planning, Industry and Environment: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/

  • Victorian Building Authority: https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/

  • Queensland Building and Construction Commission: https://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/

  • Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO): https://bcito.org.nz/

  • Australian Building Codes Board: https://www.abcb.gov.au/

  • Your Home - Australia's guide to environmentally sustainable homes: https://www.yourhome.gov.au/

  • National Construction Code (NCC): https://ncc.abcb.gov.au/

  • Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (HEEIS) - ACT Government: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/energy/hees

  • HomeBuilder Grant - NSW Government: https://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/grants-schemes/homebuilder

  • Green Building Council of Australia: https://new.gbca.org.au/

  • Energy Efficiency Council: https://www.eec.org.au/

  • Renew - Australia's leading not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable living: https://renew.org.au/

  • Choice - Home renovation and building advice: https://www.choice.com.au/home-improvement/building-and-renovating

  • Houzz - Home renovation and design inspiration: https://www.houzz.com.au/

  • Domain - Home renovation and DIY tips: https://www.domain.com.au/advice/home-renovation/

  • Better Homes and Gardens - Home renovation and DIY advice: https://www.bhg.com.au/diy-renovation

  • Bunnings Warehouse - DIY and home improvement advice: https://www.bunnings.com.au/diy-advice

  • Mitre 10 - Home renovation and DIY advice: https://www.mitre10.com.au/diy-advice

  • Officeworks - Home office and workspace design tips: https://www.officeworks.com.au/workwise/category/ideas-and-inspiration

  • IKEA - Home renovation and design ideas: https://www.ikea.com/au/en/ideas/

In summary, renovating your home in Canberra or Sydney can be a complex and challenging process, but with careful planning, preparation, and the right resources and professionals, it can also be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following the tips and resources outlined in this article, you can ensure that your renovation project is successful and meets your needs and preferences. Remember, an experienced architect can assist you in the entire process and help you navigate any issues that may arise on site.




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