Expensive Design Mistakes

Reno Mistakes What to Avoid?

Renovation limitations what to avoid

The Design approach

With more time at home either the holidays, or Covid enforced, we have all found a few parts of home that need:-

  • Maintenance
  • Don’t work for how we live today
  • A grand plan to upgrade

The design path is often our “go to” for significant renovation works.  However either the Architect or building designer will have some limitation that you should be aware of before you go and commit to some design work.  There are some essential renovation mistakes to avoid.


This profession is enormously skilled and key to delivering wholitisc design input.  I have friends and professional contact that I would not hesitate to recommend.  We can help these professionals to achieve a successful project with some up front guidance. 

The most  typical method of pricing architectural work is to charge a percentage of the build cost.  Without any alternative input (such as a good client brief) then the default position for an Architect is going consider the higher specification.  This is also likely the higher build cost.  This higher build cost directly relates to the higher the Architectural fees.  Be aware that the typical Architectural fees can be in the 10’s of thousands.  If your ideas are not clearly articulated or you cannot describe what you want in the first instance then these professionals are going to be somewhat flying blind and need more time ($) to solve these unknowns.

Generally architects are highly trained to do this work but perhaps you can do some of this preliminary work in anticipation which can deliver you huge savings.  The Architect profession do tend to have a very comprehensive view of their projects and this level of involvement has led to plenty of Renovations being documented with beautiful drawings, only to never get delivered.  It has not been uncommon that clients have come to us with a beautiful set of comprehensive drawings for a project and complained that these are wonderful, but about 4 times our budget to build!  This is one of the critical renovation mistake to avoid.

Building Design

Often building designers will draw what you instruct them to.  While this seems to be the correct response it may produce much better results if they are allowed to be their most creative selves.  When left to produce a design solution rather than just taking your direction they can utilise their experience and skills to produce an even better design solution.

There are key difference between these 2 options and a design limited result can be the outcome.

Partially this is due to the constant price pressure that building designers find themselves under.  When we ask design business to compete to quote for a job they typically have to look for methods to reduce their costs.  One key cost will be to reduce the labour in the project.  Knowing that it will take 30 hours to do a best practice outcome often designers feel compelled to try to win the work based on a quote for 20 hours.  Failing all else these Designers are often asked for a price for comparison so they are ultimately pressured to reduce their time to deliver a result and here we are with the cheapest business cost to deliver a design result from your winning design consultant.

design mistakes to avoid

Allowing some time to digest and develop a great plan is worth its weight in gold.

As clients we can easily fall into the trap of thinking that quicker or cheaper is better.  It is true in some instances however we are talking about your home here!  Do you want to rush the professionals delivering it, or ask them to cut all the possible corners?  This is particularly true in the case of building design work.  There are multitudes of compliance and regulation to meet as well as technical challenges to deliver great housing.  If a clear plan exists describing starting points then your design team will be excited to help.  Particularly if they are allowed the time and space to develop a great plan.  The resulting great documentation assists a designer to:-

  • Deliver what you want
  • Reduce their risk
  • Allow some time to discuss and propose alternative solutions from their experience

When presented with a clear preliminary brief or scope it is manna from heaven for a Designer.  Often this may be just a series of dot points as a minimum list of outcomes.  This can be the Designer’s perfect client instruction allowing them some freedom to consider your input and develop a cohesive solution.  They understand that you, the client, have done excellent work defining the problem and what is required to meet their needs.

So take some time to scope your project to convey in clear language to your designer what it is that you want to achieve.  A sketch drawing can help but leave the details to the professionals.

With the power of Innovation House here is a Triple Zero Home which took some serious design planning up front to achieve.  The client loves the resulting off grid home solution.


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