The success of any renovation project largely comes down to comprehensive and careful planning. Where you start the journey and the approach you take are key factors in its ultimate success.

Things go wrong when homeowners ignore critical steps and base their decisions on assumption, or bad advice, not on fact. Renovation can be a relatively easy and straightforward process if approached the right way. The old adage ‘ If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’ perfectly sums up it up.

Based on our experience and research, we’ve identified the 9 key principles for a successful renovation project. These principles are often ignored or overlooked, but it's critical to address them to ensure a successful project.

These principles apply regardless of the size of your renovation - albeit a full house renovation and extension or simply a kitchen makeover, and regardless of the reason you choose to renovate in the first place whether you intend to renovate your current home, buy a home to renovate or even renovate for profit.

With that in mind, here are the 9 key principles to renovation success:


Having a defined high-level project goal (your project vision) right at the start gives you focus and clarity throughout your project, making it easier to stay on track and in control. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then how can you expect anyone else to. This is the step many renovators miss entirely.

So understand what you want to achieve and why. Is it that you want more useable space, a defined indoor outdoor connection, flexibility or increased street appeal? Its easy to get distracted during a renovation, there are so many decisions to be made. So make sure this ‘vision’ statement is at the forefront throughout your project - write it down, stick it on your fridge, keep it front and centre, It will help you get through a lot of challenging times and help you make the difficult decisions during your project. The clarity is gives, will not only ensure efficiency in the design process, it will also save you from possible cost blowouts that typically occur when changes are made during the building phase.


Once you have defined your project vision, it's important to explore and identify the best strategy to take to achieve it. Your Strategy is the plan of action that defines the path toward your vision. It should also identify the specific steps that need to occur along the way. This strategy should directly respond to the unique opportunities and constraints of the project, and the specific needs and circumstances of the homeowner. There's no one size fits all solution.

For example, a property with poor rear access might require the swimming pool is installed first when the access is still available rather than at the end of the project when it would otherwise occur, or the materials the house is constructed from could dictate the way the project is approached. Because of this, it's critical to find and follow the best pathway for your project. It’s a fact, renovation . like life. can be so much easier if you have a clear strategy in place. Staying on track and in control comes from understanding what you are doing and why and what’s coming next so you are always informed and aware, and have the time to prepare so your not making reactive hasty decisions.


Long gone are the days where you could do whatever you want on your property.

There are rules and restrictions that apply to every property some more restrictive than others. So before you start down the road of renovation, it’s critical to understand what you can (and can’t do on your property). What rules apply and what do they mean for your project. Explore and understand what is actually possible and the reality of your renovation options. Are their any site specific obstacles - like slope, views, drainage, access, underground pipes or even neighbouring uses for example that might impact or restrict your renovation options?


A strong renovation strategy is a great starting point but to ensure success, the renovation process should always be viewed holistically. Renovation is made up of many different, often isolated parts which can lead to things being missed or ignored, or even addressed multiple times, costing you time and money. Inexperincedhownowners cant always see the big picture and how all the bits fit together. A holistic approach gives the homeowner a clear idea of how the parts fit together and the implications that choice made at each stage may affect the overall outcome. This gives a more efficient and cost effective outcome, with the flexibility a renovation project needs, as surprises will inevitably occur along the way.


It's a fact, money is an unavoidable part of the renovation journey, because let’s face it, it always comes back to money. It's the enabler (and sometimes the inhibitor) of your dreams.

There are two parts to the money equation: you need to work out how you are going to pay for it (your funding options), and you need to work out what you can realistically afford to spend.

Calculate the total amount of money you are prepared to spend and then work backwards as this figure needs to cover upfront costs (often missed) , the cost of the construction and the cost of any extra items or your WOW factor.

Money can’t be ignored and ideally should be addressed early and carefully monitored throughout your project. So set your budget early and track it, test it and adjust it throughout the project - be accountable and make the difficult decisions when necessary.

It's also important to cross check that your goals and budget are in alignment at multiple times during the planning stage of your renovation journey, Don’t wait until you are getting a builders quote to know.


Renovation is all about decisions - big ones, small ones and everything in between. Having a clear project vision and a robust project strategy will help make decision making far easier by keeping you focused on the end goal. It's really easy to be distracted by the little things when renovating, like the ‘look’ of your kitech or that light fitting you just have to have.

Renovation is a sequential process, so it’s vital to understand the necessary steps and to undertake them in the right order to ensure success. Understand that the decisions you make early can affect your choices later on both positively and negatively.

Do your research to keep your finger on the pulse and the decision making will be easier. Be decisive, know what decisions need to be made and by when. When renovating, time is money - and indecision costs.


Renovation isn't something most homeowners do everyday, you will maybe only do it once or twice in your lifetime. So it is important for you to understand that you don't know what you don't know ... and don't need too.

Because of this, it's critical that you seek the right advice - this is where the selection of your project team is so important, and then equally as important to listen to and value the advice they give. It might not always be what you want to hear but that’s the point.

It is so important for renovators to understand the role their project team will play and their importance to its ultimate success. Acknowledge that the designer for example recommended by your friend (who built a new modern house) for your own renovation (of a character workers cottage) project might not be a good fit for your project.

Leverage off the knowledge your team has from years of experience in projects similar to yours, and benefit from it.

A project team that understands your wants needs and vision, aesthetic and one you can relate to and trust are worth more than the initial monetary outlay.


Many a renovation project has gone awry through lack of, or miscommunication between the parties. To get the best outcome from your renovation, it's critical to have a good relationship with your project team particularly your architect/designer, or builder. Aim to be clear, honest and consistent with your communication at all times.

Your team will give you better advice if they are informed and can base their decisions on the latest and most accurate information.

It's important to establish clear channels of communication right at the start of the relationship, and clearly lay out what those channels are and how they will work. Communication happens in many ways, it can be verbal, visual (photographs and drawings), written ( your project brief, email, text).

For communication to be effective, it needs to be a two way street.


Renovation inevitable goes hand and hand with enormous amounts of paperwork. So having an organisational strategy with tools to help you stay organised and on track for the duration of your renovation project is critical.

Setting up systems right at the start helps keeping track of the paperwork, research, communication, etc.

Tracking systems are also critical, budget and time tracking are two of the key ingredients to project success. Consistent monitoring will allow you to always have a handle on where your project is at, allowing you to recalibrate if and when needed.

Planning and preparation are really the key to renovation success. But if that doesn’t sound very exciting, This might...getting the home of your dreams, on time and on budget having had an amazing renovation experience.

Set your project up for success by following the principles we’ve laid out.

Phil Purcell

Principal, Masterplanner & Coach