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Winter- Ready Homes: 8 Tips for Canterbury Residents

Is it time to renovate? With people spending a lot more time in their homes this year, combined with limited travel options many home owners are reallocating funds towards improving their homes and renovating. Russell Clark of Licensed Renovations is a specialist in residential projects. Here are his quick tips on getting started on your next home project.
Bathroom Renovation

So, you’re ready to renovate? Consider these things first.

1. Structure.

Check the footings and the timber piles and other foundation settings. When renovating, you need to factor these things in or costly overruns may occur.

2. Insulation.

Start with accessible insulation initially, such as under floor and ceiling. When you are ready to renovate, you will need to pull off the wall board and then retrofit with new wall insulation and new building paper as well.

3. Services.

Definitely check out your electrical wiring and hot water cylinder. For a new kitchen you may need new wiring to cope with the new appliances and for the new bathroom, you’ll need to upgrade that old low-pressure water cylinder, or install gas.

4. Impact.

Do the big surfaces for a bigger difference quite quickly.  Paint your house, inside and outside. Re-carpet – it can make a huge difference.  Thermally backed drapes can transform a room while dramatically improving warmth.

5. Windows.

As an example a lot of the old villas that we renovate have pretty thin 100 year-old glass. Retrofit with double glazing or installing low-e glass to make an enormous difference to temperature and sound-insulation of a room.

Renovation team

Getting Started

Do you get the builder first or do you get the architect first? Do you ask for a fixed price, or a charge up contract? Here’s Russell’s advice on getting started.

Team Building:

When it comes to renovating, it’s all about getting the right team together – get your builder, architect and the client all in the same room thinking about and discussing the finished product before you start, because it’s so much harder if you  change your mind halfway through the process. Specialists Always: Does your architect or builder specialise in renovations? The team is so important, especially on renovations because each renovation is unique.   With a new house you look at a plan, you love it, it’s done,  but there are so many more moving parts and variables in a renovation.

Future Scope:

Once you have good scope of work and the architect and builder are in agreement, get some concept drawings made and costed before you spend a whole heap of money with the architect and Council.  When the plans are approved by Council and the scope proves too expensive, it’s pretty much written in stone and you are bound by those plans.

Blown Budgets:

Usually the budget isn’t actually blown, the budget just wasn’t correct at the start. Your builder needs to advise on additional items like contract works insurance, portaloos, scaffolding, health and safety. There’s so many options and differences in how builders price a job, that it can vary from builder to builder. Discover the hidden costs before you start.  Ask as many questions as possible.  Do your own research

Plan it Out:

Outline your thoughts, right down to different paint colours.  Are you having a mosaic tile, or is it a bigger tile? Are you planning a feature wall? What sort of door handles? Is it high stud? Is it a bungalow door? There are different costs for each of those options.

When you renovate It Takes Time:

A lot of those reality TV shows lead us to think you can renovate a bathroom in a week, but by the time it’s got three coats of waterproofing, the gib stopping and the paint has dried, it’s probably more like five weeks. And time is money.  If I take my car to a mechanic, and say, “Why does it cost so much? In F1 they change the brakes and give it petrol in 4.3 seconds, how come it’s taken you all day?”

Cost of Shortcuts when you renovate:

Unfortunately with legislation, specification, law changes and compliance, it is important to get things right, otherwise you end up with the problem of things not being certified, not being insured, and problems with resale. When the time comes to sell the biggest asset you’ve ever owned, it can be a real pain in the butt and devalue what you’ve actually achieved, if you haven’t done it correctly, with the licensed contractors and sign-offs.


Russell’s a force to be reckoned with. A team player and big picture thinker with a serious creative side, he’s been a builder since the age of 15. That’s a whole lot of renovation expertise that he’s more than keen to share with clients looking for exceptional results.

Now, as Managing Director of Licensed Renovations, he manages rather than builds. Russell’s day to day satisfaction comes from seeing his clients’ properties transformed into modern living spaces that meet their needs for today and the future.

A passionate advocate for training young builders, Russell currently has three enrolled apprenticeships and many former apprentices have gone through their training, started their own companies and now work in partnership with Licensed Renovations. Plus, the skill and training provided by our team has led to Master Builders Apprentice of the Year award wins.

When he’s not at work, you can find Russell working on his bach in the Coromandel or out on the boat fishing.

Learn more here about the Licensed Renovations team and see Russell Clark at the Auckland Home Show February 2021 

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