MARK HUGHES is the Barefoot Renovator, and he recently moved his office down Freo way – into the old World of Renovation building at 86 High Street. Mark, who’s got a blog on the side (https://thebarefootrenovator. is pretty passionate about good advice on all things reno 

and says he been increasingly asked for advice about the ‘myths’ of the industry. So the Chook invited him to share some of his thoughts, particularly given the volatile nature of the construction industry at the moment, and recent speculation there might be stormy seas ahead.

WHEN the opportunity presented itself to write a regular column on all things renovating, I took little time in propagating several sides of an A4 sheet with a plethora of ideas I had no doubt would be willingly consumed by Herald readers.

However, I quickly reached a couple of far-from-earth-shattering conclusions.

The 700 word-count I’ve been gifted with, would be the work-out equivalent of a warm up; I need way more!

What I think is informative and interesting, may be considered blasé and dull.

Therefore, my inaugural topic will be one very few would choose to ignore; Saving Money. 

While falling short of the Hobbit trilogy, I’ll aptly divide 3,500 words over the forthcoming weeks and subsequently get my work-out after all.

I’d welcome your questions or ideas which I can answer accordingly, thus rendering my second conclusion a distant and irrelevant memory.

I’ll offer my meandering thoughts, advice and bluntness, on the subject, which in the current economic climate with soaring material and labour costs, I hope will provide some insight into key areas worth paying attention to.

Spend More!

To elaborate, I refer to time. Don’t rush the planning and design process. 

The time you spend upfront will reap rewards in the project. 

They say (whoever ‘they’ are) “the Devil’s in the detail” and this is where it counts from the perspective of saving money. 

A thorough set of plans (architectural and engineering), specification and fixtures and fittings schedule, no matter how simple the project, are invaluable. 

They bear an economic currency that could be likened to a tradable commodity.

Like a savvy stockbroker watching the market dive, who sees the potential in others losses, some builders and trades will look upon a feeble set of plans with glee. 

They can smell the variations and subsequent additional income a mile off. 

During a boom (‘Hello!”), I’m sure jet skis and overseas holidays are purchased before projects commence, safe in the knowledge that nothing short of a small pot of gold will be attained by completion.

“If it’s not on the plan, it’s not in the quote.”

I could run a day’s workshop devoted solely to the ‘holes’ I’ve seen in plans ranging from a simple kitchen renovation to renovations costing well in excess of half a million dollars. 

You know what? I can hear my father’s voice saying “If I had a dollar for every time…..I’d be a millionaire”. Well, my bank account would be way short of seven figures but I’d definitely be able to afford a jet ski and overseas holiday!

At the other end of the spectrum, a detailed set of plans and a clear specification are to exploitive builders, almost worthless. 

They generally leave little room for error and variations will be the sole domain of a client-induced change, made purely at will. 

Pricing from such plans should be accurate and while there will always be ‘unknowns’ in a renovation, these can be approached without fear of the builder announcing, “If it’s not on the plan, it’s not in the quote”.

I cannot stress this enough, spend the time in getting the plans and specification right. And by right, I mean, well thought through and well documented.

Changes later will invariably cost; time and/or money – period.

Of course, it may not be possible to think through every design detail and we all want the flexibility to change our minds later, but let’s not get lost in exuberant enthusiasm and regret it later. 

If you hear the words ‘It’ll be alright mate’, from your builder, head for the nearest exit!

*While I did allude to a ‘guarantee’ in the title, I cannot substantiate this by means of refund, discount voucher, free meal or in fairness, in any manner whatsoever, if you do not benefit directly from my advice.

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