Readying Renos? Mentally Prepare for Renovation Problems and Setbacks!

Woman experiencing renovation problems and setbacks with a measuring tape

Renovation, the word that breathes joy and fear into the property owner’s heart. Whether it’s a fun project filled with colour and style choices, or you’re staring down the barrel of a hard slog to get that new Queensland property up to livable standards, the process rarely comes without unexpected renovation problems.  Sometimes, the odd very costly setback.  It wouldn’t be Queensland in La Nina without a few issues, now would it?

Renovation virgin?  Start simple

Fresh paint and new floor coverings are the simplest ways to breathe new life into a tired, old space.  If you’re a first-time renovator, a cosmetic makeover like this is a good place to start.  While the kitchen and bathroom might be your wish list renovation, complex upgrades lead to complex cost blowouts.  Enough can go wrong on the simple jobs.

Expect the Unexpected

The number one rule when it comes to renovating is this: Be prepared for the unexpected! It’s common to uncover hidden nasties that may cost thousands to remedy.  Even with the best building inspector in Queensland on your team, there are going to be unforeseeable problems.

It might be a minor setback such as ripping up the carpet, only to realise that your assumption that the beautiful timber flooring was continued throughout the house, was in fact incorrect. Instead, much of the original floors are covered with Masonite – meaning a tiresome and time-consuming task to remove this and repair the damage left by hundreds of nails.

Sometimes, the issues uncovered are more serious. Problems with old pipes and drainage can lead to mould, leaks, water damage, and even ground subsidence. Fortunately, a drainage specialist can fix these without the need to excavate, saving you both time and money.

Discovering structural damage caused by termites, or learning that an old house needs rewiring, are enough to strike terror into the heart of the most enthusiastic renovator as they can cause a massive budget blowout.

Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best isn’t a great way to approach a reno – so a little forethought, preparation and contingency budget can make all the difference.


First rule of renovation: plan.  Second?  Plan for renovation problems


Before you start knocking out walls and ripping up floors, ask yourself these questions:

Where will you live if there are renovation problems?

Will you live in the home whilst you’re renovating? It can be done, especially if you’re renovating one room at a time – until there’s a major setback.  When renovating uncovers a bigger problem (or, in some cases creates one) do you have a contingency plan in place?

What if there’s a time blowout?

How long will the reno take? Many of us seriously underestimate the time and energy involved!  Let’s not even talk about the delays caused by supply chains and tradie shortages. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the expected timeframe by three. Even a seemingly simple paint job may require a lot of prep work, plus you’ll need to wait for paint to dry between coats.  (There’s a good guide here on prepping for paint work)

Can you really do that, or is it harder than it looks?

How much work will you do yourself? You can potentially save a lot of money this way but be honest when appraising your capabilities. Keep budget aside for tradespeople just in case the job is harder than it looked in that YouTube video.

So much rubbish.  So much.  OMG.  How do I even deal with it?

Renovations create a whole lot of trash and keeping your job site clear is going to be a bigger job than you anticipated.  How will you remove rubbish? Renovating creates a lot of mess, so be prepared to make many, many trips to the tip; or hire a skip bin instead.  Skips (aka dumpsters) cost a lot more than you’d think and fill up a lot quicker than you’d expect.  Keep some budget aside for additional skip removals.  If you don’t use it, well, it goes into the “celebratory wine budget”.

Do you have access to extra funds in case things go pear-shaped? Given how often a renovation can reveal nasty little surprises, it’s wise to factor this in!

At the end of the (very long) day, renovating can be an immensely satisfying process, and a good way to build equity in your home. Just don’t expect it to be as quick and easy as the makeovers you see on TV – be ready for renovation problems, they’re all part of the process.

Renovating to sell?  Check out our guide to renovating a Queensland property for profit!


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