How to continue your renovation project during COVID-19?

September 2, 2020

A man completing renovations with his son during COVID-19

With a number of social restrictions and cautions still in place amid the COVID-19 health crisis, you’re not alone if you’re worried about continuing ahead with that renovation and opening up your home to trade workers, architects and so on.

There is no reason you should give up on your renovation dreams, especially as now is the perfect situation to ensure you take extra time and care to get things right, particularly during a time where the government is offering stimulus packages like the HomeBuilder grant.

Australians have powered through their home renovation plans in spite of the pandemic.

In fact, the housebound life encouraged many homeowners to brainstorm ideas and start DIY projects. 

Online renovation community Houzz’s recent survey of 2200 Australians found 62% soldiered on with renovations after the pandemic was declared in mid-March.

What government schemes are in place to help you financially fund renovations?

The HomeBuilder scheme is a grant offered by the Morrison government, allows buyers of freshly built homes or those renovating their existing property to receive $25,000 cash grant – according to an eligibility criteria. This new scheme does have some limitations and it cannot be used by anyone who would just like to build a new patio, pool, tennis court or cheaply renovate their bathroom or kitchen.

The HomeBuilder scheme will also be restricted to people on middle incomes and to new homes and major renovations valued between $150,000 to $750,000. Your income cannot be greater than $125,000 as an individual or $200,000 as a couple.

Find out more on the scheme and the eligibility criteria here.

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Is it possible to renovate during COVID-19?

It is very much possible to continue your renovations. Especially with the extra time, Warwick Mihaly, co-director of Mihaly Slocombe says in an interview to Houzz, “starting a project now will put you in a good position to be ready for construction work in nine to 12 months, having gone through all stages of design, documentation, planning and permits.”

Architecture firms and licenced builders have already adapted their work practices to the challenges of COVID-19, making use of online video software to converse with clients. This shows there is no hindrance to approach an architecture firm or builder to start building on your ideas and develop your dream design.

Online platform hipages helps Australians connect with tradies, with the website recording a significant jump in job posting immediately after the HomeBuilder grant was announced. 

The online renovation community Houzz interviewed a couple, Terri Jesse and Liam Beasley, as they have bought a house in February and had contacted a building company, Baulch Services, to conduct their renovation.

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For Jesse, the timing couldn’t have been better. “By early March we knew that Covid-19 restrictions were coming, and everyone was unsure how this would impact the process,” she says.

The couple however, felt comfortable knowing that online video tutorials could allow an easy immediate connection for progress reports daily, enabling the couple to stay up to date.

“We felt like we were across the project the entire time despite not being able to attend the worksite,” says Jesse.

The project consisted of renovating a bathroom and laundry into a bathroom, ensuite and European laundry. The company also built a wardrobe, hallway cupboards and painted the home’s interior.

The overall timeframe and completion was three months, during the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions, from the initial online meeting to the finished project.

The project was completed smoothly and on time with Jesse and Beasley moving into the home in late-June 2020. The couple is thrilled with the result and say the virtual process had some unexpected advantages.

What are some things you can do to continue your dream renovation?

Here are five tips to help you start and continue your dream renovation during the COVID-19 restrictions.

On average, the time between realising you need a renovation and actually executing it is usually six months or more. Use the extra time you have due to the pandemic to work out budgets, research the trades people you might want to work with, check out the schemes that you can be apply for, this is the perfect time to make a full-proof plan for your dream renovation. If you have already planned your renovation, it’s not a bad idea to go back over everything and use the opportunity to ensure there aren’t any unanswered questions, concerns or better options to be found.

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Inevitably, we are all spending more time indoors at the moment and trying to avoid going out when possible. Once the planning is out of the way, use this extra time at home and really look far and wide for inspiration for how you want to bring your renovation to life. Call in samples, get out fabric swatches, pull out magazines and cut out furnishings or furniture you may want and put them together.

Then to collect your findings and put them together, it’s a good idea to create mood boards on Pinterest of Instagram’s feature that allows you to save images and organise them into folders. This feature is also available on Facebook and Twitter. Put together an easily sharable collection so that you can show your builder exactly what you’re imagining when the time comes.

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Once all your planning is in order, or you know the track you’re heading towards, turn your attention to booking in virtual meetings and consultations with everyone who you might engage with to see a completed outcome and timeline. Many professionals have more time on their hands than they normally would – no commutes, site visits, show houses or markets are keeping them from working on your project. You can also learn from them how to take accurate measurements without them needing to do it in person.

If social distancing will be difficult to maintain on site because of your home size, turn your attention to areas of the home where a breach of safety is less likely. The backyard or exterior of the home are likely to be safer options. It’s a good time to focus on things like garage renovations, roof maintenance and landscaping. You could also focus on rooms or parts of the house that can be shut off from the rest of the house or areas where it is more accessible to tradies without the need for them to use the main entrance.

Keep up to date with your local and federal governments, while construction may still be allowed in your area, it’s a good idea to continue following advice from the government to check which services are permitted. Also keep up to date with any new schemes that may present applicable to you.

Words by Ece Demir


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