5 things we wish we’d known before starting home renovations


Do-it-yourself home renovations are tempting, especially when it’s your first home and you want to make it yours!

You’re probably sick of people telling you that it’s going to be lots of hard work. So we’ll skip straight to the helpful stuff.

We asked our resident Zanui DIYers about their horror stories. Here’s just five things we wish we’d known before putting the hammer through the wall!

1. Make a to-do list with clear deadlines for each room

You’ve probably got plenty of ideas for updates in every room of the house. Put these down in a definitive list – even if it ends up being as long as your arm – and set yourself deadlines.


If you’re doing a whole-house renovation, consider working off an Excel spreadsheet and using different tabs for each room of the property. (Yes, we’re 100% serious. Spreadsheets are wonderful things.)

Don’t forget to include even the smallest details, such as trips to the hardware store, and leave room for any possible changes you’ll make along the way,

2. Don’t cut corners to save money

Renovations can easily get out of hand, and budgets can easily be blown. It can be tempting to cut corners when a problem arises. Unexpected spanners-in-the-works are inevitable.


You never really know what’s under that old carpet, or what the internal plumbing is like. So before you begin, make yourself a promise to do things right. Commit to a job well done!

Cutting corners might seem like a good idea at the time, but you’ll kick yourself for it months later when the cracks start to re-appear… And they will, trust us.

3. Always wear safety gear

This is a big one, even though it seems pretty obvious. But the longer you spend on your renovations, the more comfortable you get. The worksite doesn’t seem like such a mess.

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You’re in such a tired, harried state that you forget to put your face mask on and then before you know it you’re covered in sanding dust (and it’s probably in your lungs too!). It’s not good.

Make a conscious, responsible decision to ensure everyone that’s working on your house has their own safety equipment. Rouse on those who forget. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

4. Keep a close eye on paint colour

When patch-testing paint colours on your walls, take your time. Do the job right by applying two to three coats (over an undercoat) so you get a good idea of what the colour really looks like. But don’t stop there!


Take a photo of the colour after application. Then continue to take photos of the colour tests over the course of the day.

Depending on the time of day and the arc of the sun, you may end up with lighter or darker shades. Taking photographs will help you to compare all these colours and make it easier to decide on a final colour coat.

5. When the times get tough, make it fun

Let’s be honest, you’re going to have bad days. Days when your tradies can’t make it, or you can’t decipher the assembly instructions, or you find a blackhole in your budget. It’s going to happen.

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But it doesn’t have to be all bad. Make the most of good days and turn the bad days upside down by finding the fun in your renovations. Here are three fun ideas we love:

  1. Make a playlist to listen (and dance) to while you do the boring jobs (the radio just doesn’t cut it)
  2. Hold a ‘working bee’ and invite a few DIY-savvy friends or family members over to help you out (because it seems less impossible when you have support!)
  3. Have a dinner party (and by dinner party we mean, order your favourite take-away and crack open a few beers) 😉


Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.