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9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Cate St Hill

So you’ve just got your keys, you’re about to start planning your new home, but what things do you need to think about pronto? Let’s take a little look...

If you’re reading this, you’re probably still in the chill zone. The chill zone is the bit right at the beginning of your renovation project that lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s slow work, it’s all quiet and calm, you’re waiting around for everyone (meetings, calls, visits) and you think it’s going to take foreeeeeeever!

And then bam…... a million questions, a million decisions, a million miles an hour =  Stress + rush + panic…..+ a whole lotta rushed decisions and compromises, and not being able to do what’s on your vision board because the decisions are well a little #lastminute

I’ve created a checklist of things for you to start thinking about whilst you’re in the chill zone, so that you can get things moving along quickly in the direction you want when things start to move, but at a time when you actually have the headspace to think clearly.

SpoilerAlert: Don’t assume you know everything, innovation is around every corner and the best thing you could do for yourself is get curious, ask questions and research…

From experience, some trades (not all obviously) like to do things according to the laws of least resistance, and aren’t always open to innovation or making life a little harder for themselves #EasyLife. Educating yourself is a great way to ensure your home designs are an ideal mix of innovation, style, your vision and as much of life's little comforts as you’d like. It will also avoid #TradeTantrums further down the line when you want to achieve the impossible #EverythingIsPossibleWthPlanning

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Holland Street Kitchens

Learn The Lingo

First fix

All the work needed to take a building from foundation to putting plaster on the internal walls. This includes constructing walls, floors and ceilings, and inserting cables for electrical supply and pipes for water supply.

Second fix

Comprises all the work after the plastering of a finished house. Electrical fixtures are connected to the cables, sinks and baths connected to the pipes, and doors fitted into door frames. Second fix work requires a neater finish than first fix.


Be a good girl guide and #BePrepared so that you don’t make rookie mistakes that end up hitting you where it hurts….. In your dream home vision. (You thought I was going to say wallet didn’t you? I’d never be that shallow ;-))

Here some of the things you need to decide early in your renovation project:

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Alison Giese


This is often one of the last things to go down, but one of the first things you need to decide early in your renovation. You need to know the thickness of your tile, planks, carpet etc so that you make sure the floor levels are constructed with this in mind. How annoying are those 2mm gaps or doors that catch the carpet. #StubbedToes


Deciding on your lighting design early on is absolutely crucial. But to decide on your lighting you need to understand how you’re going to be using the space, so have a major think about where you’ll need light fittings.  I assure you, OCD kicks in from wonky pendant placement.

And please do not leave this decision to your electrician, they’re not always as motivated as you are about the finished location #FunctionOverForm. If it’s a room with more than one entrance, you need to plan to be able to turn lights on or off in more than one place. You will never forgive yourself for having to do the walk of darkness because you can’t switch at the stairs.

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Cate St Hill


As with lighting, if it needs a wire, it needs a decision up front. Things like TV points, data cables, router locations, CCTV,  alarm etc. Make sure these are thought about before first fix so that you’re not chopping out channels in your walls after plasterboard and insulation have been fitted.


Tiles come in all shapes, thickness and sizes. If you don’t look into your option early on, you’ll end up being restricted in your decisions down the line.

Not knowing your tile choices will mean:

  • You’re not sure how thick you need your floor screed to be.
  • You’re not sure how high to build things up to allow for shower falls etc. (drainage)
  • You’re not sure if they’re going to arrive in time, decorative tiles can have long lead times
  • You won’t know the costs. Small format tiles can take much longer to lay than large format.
9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Claybrook Studio

Bathroom fittings and taps

Knowing the fitting in your bathroom is going to help you prepare all your pipework, waste, tap locations etc. and help your plumber position all this correctly. There is nothing worse than having your heart set on a particular fitting to find you don’t have the needed recess #BeenThere or you have to change the location of a loo because you don’t have enough waste fall to the drains etc.

The Shower Niche

The smallest but often so overlooked, you know, the little hole in your shower where you hide all your bits, the niche. If you don’t plan for your niche early on, they’re often not possible as a niche, of course, needs a recess.

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Cate St Hill

The Noise

Who else here is obsessed with noise? Or more importantly the quiet and calm? A zen like home is the dream! I once lived in an apartment and I’d have given my left arm for the above apartment to have had acoustic flooring/insulation #Heels. Regardless of what type of property you have, if you want to think about making your home an oasis of calm (you totally can), but it needs a little advance planning.

You don’t have to soundproof your entire home, perhaps just areas to make life a little quieter. That busy road, the children's bedrooms (so you get extra zzz’s), utility/laundry rooms…. It’s not just insulation either, you can get special sound proofing glass, plasterboard and coatings, so have that quiet chat early on, your ears will thank you.

9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project

Image Credit: Paul Massey


Even though alphabetically second to last, think about windows first because they will have one of the longest lead times. Without your windows in place, you can’t insulate or plaster and get to second fix. Leaving these until last minute could hold the whole project up #DownToolsDisaster

Window coverings

Really? Blinds at the beginning? I haven’t even got windows! Don’t waste an opportunity to explore all your options my friend. You may want to go #manual with soft or hard blinds, but if you want to go with anything with a motor, you’ll need wiring. Blinds have come a long way and there are many wired/motorised mechanisms on the market, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. Check out Luxaflax for some inspo! These can be retro fitted, but avoid unsightly motors and get them all connected up. #FirstWorldButSoNice.


The truth is the more #GirlGuide you are with your renovation, the more likely you are to get things exactly as you’d like. Plan as much as you can in advance and you’ll thank yourself down the line.

If you’d like to start out on track and get planning your rooms now, jump on over to HomeEnvy Bootcamp where we can help you get the planning party started.

Natalie xx

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9 things you need to decide early in a renovation project


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