Renovation update - planning our attack

I’ve got a couple of things that I wanted to cover in today’s renovation update:

  • Pre-settlement access
  • Tasks that you can do pre-settlement

1.  Pre-settlement access

Time is a really important factor is completing a profitable renovation, because as you know, properties have holding costs and the longer you take to complete your renovation, the more money you are shelling out on bank interest and utilities bills.  This is why arranging for access to a property before the property settles can be a huge factor in your renovation success.

If you want early access to a property then you need to ask for it!  And if that early access is important or even vital for your project then you not only need to ask for it but you need to make it a condition of your contract.  This is the only way that you can ensure you will be given access to the property.

Some people simply ask for ‘access to the property to obtain quotes’.  As with all things ‘contract’ I like to make sure that I’m quite specific and say something like:

“access to the property for the purpose of obtaining quotations and performing measurements on at least  three occassions prior to the settlement date’

There is a more formal arrangement called a ‘license to occupy’ which is something that a legal person can arrange for you.  Sometimes a vendor may require that you complete this document to formalise the arrangement.  I have yet to use this, so suggest that you obtain professional advice should you require this.

In this project that we are currently doing we have been very fortunate in that we pretty much have full access to the property whenever we wish.  The only condition is that we do not undertake any major, structural or demolition tasks on the property.


2.  Tasks you can do pre-settlement

Given that we can’t really undertake any work on the property until it settles you may wonder what we have been doing – and trust me, we’ve been doing heaps!

Here’s what we have been doing in our pre-settlement period

Costing spreadsheet

We have a very detailed costing spreadsheet that we are using to budget and to track our expenditure for the renovation.  This spreadsheet is the crux of the project.  Remember, renovation isn’t about tools and paint and tiles, it’s about money.

Our experience with renovating is minimal so our initial cost estimates really were just estimates and we have spent this time getting refining and validating our costings based on what we learn in sourcing materials and obtaining quotes.


How much are tiles?  Where should I get carpet from?  How much does it cost to plaster the walls?  What is a light fitting going to cost?  Where can I obtain the cheapest electrical supplies?

When it comes to sourcing materials and finding good suppliers you have to love the internet!  It’s a great place to find prices and suppliers.  In saying that, however, do keep in mind that in some parts of the world (including the regional town where our reno project house it) there are still a heap of companies who aren’t on the Internet.  Hard to believe, I know!!

Some tips for finding good materials and suppliers include:

  • Internet (just a general search)
  • Ebay
  • Local paper
  • Word of mouth – speak to the locals
  • Other tradespeople


Getting trades people to come out, measure up and provide a quote can take a few weeks, so getting this underway as early as possible is a great idea!

In some cases you made need materials ordered or custom made or tradespeople can have a ‘lead time’ before they can fit your job in.  Planning ahead is definately a good plan.


Speaking of planning…do you know exactly what you are going to do, how long it will take and in what order things will need to occur.  This should all be a part of your documented plan.  Sure you can wing it, but we are trying to undertake a professional renovation in as short a period as possible, so we have a detailed project plan listing everything that needs to be done, in the order that it should be approached and which resources are required for the job.

I have a project management background so for me, using a project Gantt chart is my preferred method, however, a great tool that most people know how to use is a simple spreadsheet.


Technically we aren’t supposed to ‘start work’ on the house until we own it.  What we have commenced with, however, in this pre-settlement period is the garden.  Knowing that we had a lot of tree and bush clearing to do, we considered this a good thing to tackle.   We’ve spent a few days so far just clearing trees and bushes from the fence line as the fence will need to be replaced on two sides.  We’ve also mowed the lawns back and front and have found this a really good way to meet the neighbours!


This is another good pre-settlement activity for when you can’t really start but want to get stuck into something.  For the most part lots of things will be patched, replaced, re-tiled, re-floored (is that a word?) so we haven’t done much cleaning as it’ll all need to be redone.  There are some things, however, that we can start cleaning up, such as a good clean of the inside window frames.

Phew!  I’m tired just thinking about all that we’ve done and we don’t even own the house yet!  Spirits and motivation are still high here (well mine are…my partner I’m not so sure about), just three weeks now till settlement!