Expert Builder Reveals ‘Three Trade Rules’ On How You Can Avoid A Dreaded ‘Reno Disaster’


My name is Guido,

I am the director of Reliable Building and Construction. 

I thought of putting this article together containing three rules I discovered from managing over 250 ‘home renos’, that will help you avoid the worst from occurring…

The dreaded  ‘Reno Disaster’

Reno disasters are more common than you think, and after being in the game for over 30 years I’ve seen my fair share of them.

Projects being incomplete, budgets running out, families left in ruins,  paying a deposit, and no work is ever done…it’s pretty bad. 

Today, I want to share with you the ‘three rules’ I’ve learnt to be the difference between a ‘successful’ home reno and one that’s ‘disastrous’.


Rule 1 – Whenever you’re starting a home renovation, you need to ask yourself why?

Why are you choosing to renovate your home?

Having a clear goal in mind is worth its weight in gold for you and the success of your home renovation project. 

I’ve dealt with so many people over the years who’ve experienced a ‘home reno disaster’ and I’ve noted that it all boils down to them not having a clear objective for their renovation.  

And to help them avoid this mistake the first question I ask is  “What is the goal of your project?” 

Having a clear goal in mind means your builder does too.

Therefore they can assess your project based on what you’re trying to achieve and make the necessary recommendations to ensure the success of your renovation. 

Here are the typical reasons why people choose to renovate their home. 

Consider using these if you’re unsure what your goal is. 

Need more space – You might be a family who is expecting kids where room sizes need to be increased, additional bathroom or toilet being installed, or quite simply you might need an extra car space.  

Increase the value of your home –  Are you looking to take advantage of the booming house market, investing in your home so you can see it’s value rise when you have it reevaluated by the bank? 

Modernise your place-  Are you wanting to update the look and feel of your home with new cabinetry, appliances, and furnishings? 

Improve functionality –  Do certain areas of your home or backyard need to be redesigned or repurposed to improve the overall flow and functionality?

Create an entertainment space –  Are you wanting to spend the money that’s usually set aside for travel to invest in an entertainment area where you can enjoy time with family and friends from the comfort of your home?

When you have established your goal the next thing you need to master is how to pitch this to your builder.


Rule 2 Clearly outlining what your goal consists of using specifics 

It’s not enough just to tell a home renovation company that you want more space. It’s great that you’ve decided on what the goal of the project should be, but you need to be specific about what you need. 

Pitching your needs to your home renovation company in the same language as they use is the best way for you to avoid any types of mistakes.

The clearer you are when communicating to your renovation company, the more accurate your quote will become, and the better it will be for your back pocket. 

Here are a few examples of what I mean

If your goal is needing more space, then you need to mention which room/s need more space, how much extra space you require (mm, cm, metres), and what space is going to be used for . 

If you are wanting to renovate your kitchen,  then it would be best for you to mention things like the style of the kitchen (traditional, l-shape, contemporary), the type of materials you want to use on the benchtops and cupboards, the colour combination and even go as far as mentioning the appliances you want. 

If you are wanting to increase the value of your home, then ringing your local real estate agent could be a great way for you to find out what the market is looking for when buying/renting a home. You can use that information to decide on what room/s you want to renovate, e.g. a new kitchen. 

If you are wanting to create an entertainment space, finding examples online of what you like and presenting them to your builder will be a great way for them to visualise and conceptualise what it will take to re-create something similar. 


Rule 3 –  Asses your renovation/building company based on these 5 things

#1 – Do they have an in-house team? 

The benefit of working with a home renovation company that has an in-house team as opposed to working with one who sub-contracts is it’s a lot easier to manage. One team usually means one point of contact, and during a big project like a house reno, it’s better to be dealing with one person than many. 

The additional benefit of working with an in-house team is that each team member carries the same values, high standards, and workmanship the owner built the company on. 

#2 – Do they display past projects? 

When sourcing a home renovation company, it’s important to see what they are capable of.  Most home renovation companies showcase their work on their website and social media pages as a way to attract more customers. These photos should give you a good indication of what the company can bring to the table in terms of quality and workmanship.

#3 – How many years have they been in business?

Looking to see how long each home renovation company has been in business will give you a good indication of whether they will be here to stay. I’m not saying that a company with 2 years of experience won’t be great to deal with but, there have been instances where companies go bust during projects because of funding, workers leaving, etc. 

#4 – Is their team qualified? Verify their licenses? 

These days it’s very easy to be someone you’re not and in the home renovation industry, it’s easy to get away with labeling yourself as a ‘qualified builder’ without verifying it. Apart from avoiding legal drama, working with qualified people ensures your project has the highest skilled workers completing the job. 

#5 – Do they put it in writing?

Before commencing work with a home renovation company you want to make sure that you get the terms into a legally binding contract. The contract should include the payment schedule, deliverables, and timeline of the project.


As you can see the ideas I shared with you are simple and nothing out of the ordinary, yet people tend to overlook them. 

Putting these measures in place before you commence work on your home will give you the best chance at avoiding a ‘reno disaster’. 

Thanks for reading this article, I hope it helped. 

If you are thinking about renovating your home in the near future, then let’s book a time to chat. 

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Picture of Guido Vanderwal

Guido Vanderwal

Director of Reliable Building and Construction.