Managing Expectations – Renovations

The world of renovation is a tricky thing. Not only are there the client’s expectations but there are also the expectations of the contractors, designers, various trades-people and support staff that are in place to facilitate the project.  Renovation always has its challenges this we know, so adjusting your expectations to accept that perfection is not always an option or projects don’t always run to schedule is a good way to start out, early on. In this series of blog posts we are going to take you through all the process’ of the design and construction phase to hopefully give you a greater understanding of the industry and ultimately help manage your expectations of your renovation.


Reality and design TV programs have had a huge spike in popularity recently. People watch as the contestants undertake do-it-yourself home renovations in only a matter of days or weeks with seemingly little money. However, this has led to a great misunderstanding with regards to how much a renovation costs in real life, how long it takes and how it gets done.

These TV shows don’t show you the design, planning and approval process that goes on long before contestants even take a sledge hammer to that hideous bathroom.  This process take many clients by surprise as they have often talked to a builder who can start next month. It is very hard to estimate how long it will take from concept to construction approval as there are many varying factors. Below is a typical timeline from one of our designs.

Stage 1: Concepts: 2 Months

Our typical concept phase can last 1-2 months before we lock in a solution that both the client and the ESD team are happy with.

Stage 2: Development Application:  3-6 Months

Once we have the concept finalised we develop our drawings to a level appropriate for Development Application submission along with necessary reports and Sustainability certificates. Once we submit the DA into Local Council approval times vary greatly depending on the council and if they request addition information or there are neighbour disputes.

Stage 3:Construction Certificate: 2+ Months

During this stage we produce construction drawings, specifications and schedules. It is typical to engage specialist consultants like Structural Engineers, Civil and Hydraulic Engineers, Geotechnial Engineers, Landscape designers to ensure all details are thought through ensuring the Builder can confidently identify the scope of works and the build program runs smoothly. Note that once you start engaging individual consultants the timeline for submission generally gets pushed back as the volume of information and additional meetings needed to resolve issues increases.

The above stages are the minimum steps taken to obtain all necessary approvals and achieve a level of documentation that ensures the builder builds what we have planned so long for.

Stage 4: Detail  Design 

Stage 4 involves the selections and  detail of the interiors, for example bathroom and kitchen detail elevations, joinery details, selection of tiles, taps, fittings, doors, trims etc etc etc. This stage is one of the most time consuming, challenging yet rewarding stages and not all clients sign on for this for individual reasons.To keep this post short, we will discuss this stage in a future blog post.

Whether you’re building a bathroom or adding an extension to your home, renovating can be stressful – that much is clear in both the real world and reality TV. But you can reduce the stress by planning properly in advance, having realistic expectations and seeking professional advice when necessary. What may seem as a big outlay in the beginning will also save you a lot of time and money in the long run.