This year is not going to plan for everyone in New Zealand and it might be the same situation for the next few years. The freedoms we once enjoyed gets removed, we are staying home to stay safe. The arrival of Covid-19 has meant even the best-made plans have to be adjusted.
This pandemic has left us wondering about the rest of the year and the future, no wonder many homeowners are weighing up renovating their dream home.
This unforeseen crisis has upended most renovation projects, forcing progress to pause abruptly. Even though it looks like a good idea to keep a renovation project going during Covid-19, it can also be challenging. There are guidelines on how many people in an area or worksite, trades get staggered and there’s timetable challenges. Job-site hours get expanded, maybe just the people framing or only painters, if the space is big enough, working on different ends of the workspace to respect social distancing.
Facilities have to get cleaned several times a day; it means extra workforce, financial implications and delays. Workers take their breaks in shifts which influences productivity. There is a risk of bringing multiple workers closer together, inhaling dust and debris from a site can exacerbate a case of the virus for anyone. Councils are closed during lockdowns which cause a backlog on the processing of building consents. At the same time, stricter health and safety site procedures have to be in place for the conducting of inspections by council inspectors necessary for progression.
Although most standard stock items are still obtainable, the process of obtaining the required items has become more complicated. Thoroughly planned orders have to be placed well in advance to ensure timely deliveries. Additionally, building sites are required to prepare for contactless deliveries. To obtain a specialist or high-end stock item, has also proven to be challenging as many retailers have reported shortages.
Lockdowns are forcing families to spend more time together in the same spaces living closer to each other, physically. If you don’t have a big outdoor area where you can escape the walls of your bedroom or the limited family area, it can become extremely challenging. It is no surprise that homeowners have looked closely at their houses, after spending more and more time at home, and the possibilities become more apparent for them.
After several weeks of looking at the same four walls, it seems like Kiwis have a very keen appetite for renovating. People channel money they would have spent on travelling into their homes instead. Or they’re uncertain about the future, so instead of buying a new house, they’re looking at remodelling the existing. Despite the lockdown, it is an excellent time to move forward with a renovation.
Moving through the Covid-19 levels brings about an unexpected boom in home renovations. Kiwis have always loved a renovation job; people are also taking advantage of low-interest rates to fund home improvement. The funding options available for renovators is topping up existing mortgages or redrawing on a revolving home loan. Most people’s thoughts have turned to extensive home improvements such as bathroom and kitchen renovations, home extensions such as adding a second story, a basement development or if the section allows it, extending the house and adding new decks.
There are three scenarios you can be in when the Covid-19 levels get changed; each has its challenges and advantages.
Scenario 1 - Planning to start your renovation soon
You own a home, or just bought a house, and are about to start the design phase of your renovation project. If you contact someone to work on some concept designs for you, you are not committed to the project yet. Being in your home every day is an excellent time to find out what is functional for you as well as doing all-important research. Financially, you may want to begin researching how much you can borrow from the bank. By involving a builder in the early planning stages as your consultant to work with the design team he can help you keep track of the project cost ensuring that you don’t fall in love with an unaffordable design. Remember the typical design phase of a renovation can take four to six months on average.
Scenario 2: Start of the Renovation process
Armed with your plans and permits, you are ready to start with construction. Your project has not started, so you are likely to be at a low-impact stage of your renovation. The early stages of a project are more comfortable to coordinate. Your design-build team will have plenty of time to kick-start it again while working from home.
Changing drawings is simpler and more cost-effective; there may be a couple of options available for you to reduce your budget. Some recommendations include omitting essential costly items for more cost-effective items and also eliminating work that has an unknown cost element and staging the jobs into smaller chunks spread over a more extended period. Reuse or recycle parts of the existing house that can easily get reconfigured. Your team may recommend alternatives—for example, that you select similar scope items from local or national suppliers and to not import specially selected items.
Scenario 3: Already renovating
You may be getting too nervous about proceeding with your project as there can be more lockdowns slowing down your build. It is possible to change your scope at any time by writing a necessity list to have in the project. Work collaboratively with the building company doing your pricing so that they recommend products that may give a comparable finish but at a lower price. The earlier you lock in your renovation selections it helps with disruptions to the construction supply chain, especially from overseas. Talk to your bank as well and see if they can offer you a more competitive deal then pre-lockdown, you have more clarity around how much the renovation is going to cost you.
The project is of your builder’s utmost priority and they can work across Covid-19 levels one to three to ensure progress as they will want to see your renovation finished. A major pro of having started the renovation process is that your project probably progressed more quickly as the situation developed. Reach out to the renovation team if you have specific questions, and be sure to know what the contingency or re-mobilization plan is.
Virtual Renovation Solution
The Covid-19 Pandemic and there might be more in the future has forced us into lockdowns, social distancing, limited movement, health awareness etc. However, it has also taught us that there are other ways of doing things that are more productive, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. We should not overlook the digital advantage we have in this time, let call it the Virtual Renovation Solution.
By using technology online visual collaboration is now possible between clients, architects, engineers, builders and other consultants to develop a proposed design from start to finish in more detail than ever before. It is possible to test for design oversights and buildability using 3D modelling while keeping track of the budget as design changes happen so that you don’t fall in love with a final design that is not affordable.
Communication can become blurred and confusing due to the long period from the start of design to the actual building phase. It is leading to late decisions, misunderstandings, unapproved variations or changes to the plans and a disappointing final result. Therefore it is crucial to keep a record of all the details on a reliable communication system that allows for 24/7 access by all involved.
It is important that you carefully select the right builder. Construction has a lot of moving parts, a lot of moving people, a lot of stuff needing to come together in a particular time frame in order for a project to run efficiently. It can be a very stressful phase for a homeowner.
A professional builder will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of his pre- construction process that will justify his fee.
As a member of the New Zealand Certified Builders and the Association of Professional Builders, NEDS Projects is uniquely situated and experienced to be able to offer you everything you deserve from a professional builder on the Auckland North Shore. Check out our website at www.nedsprojects.co.nz, or contact us on 0800 633 370 for a no obligation discussion.
Planning a major home renovation can be very overwhelming and finding the right information can be difficult. To help you we have developed a free guide that is beneficial for anyone who is in the planning stage of a major renovation. I know you will enjoy it. It is packed with super-practical information covering 7 of the biggest mistakes made when planning a major home renovation.