What a Waste…of Renovation Time & Money


Google ‘How to avoid wasting time and money while renovating’ or something to that effect and you’ll be confronted with pages upon pages upon pages of articles Most of them will tell you the answer lies in obvious areas – like ‘don’t move your plumbing,’,  ‘choose your material/fittings/insert any number of topics wisely’, ‘avoid overcapitalisation’, etc etc… the list goes on.

Don’t get us wrong, those things all contribute to the waste puzzle, but all this is detail and just the tip of the iceberg. The problem is a much more involved and deeper one.


Time Is Money

‘Time is money’ in the game of renovation.

There are many ways time is wasted and it is seen as normal.

Undoubtedly, most people will relate to this story – maybe because you are guilty of it or something similar or know someone who is.

At a function recently and we got talking to a man. He was in the process of getting quotes for a landscaping job, and was managing the project himself as he figured it was a simple one so ‘why not?’.  He proceeded to relate that he had at last count, 9 different quotes for this ‘simple’ job! Seriously! Nine? And to make matters worse, he was no closer to engaging anyone and actually getting the job done.  Delving a little deeper, it became obvious that he didn’t really understand what the job required and the complexities so each contractor was working under assumptions that no doubt did not align so the quotes were almost impossible to compare. He essentially he had a figure in his head ( presumably an unrealistic one) and he was going to get quotes until he got the result he wanted. I think I can safely say this was a renovation horror story in the making. But one also one of waste. He to date had wasted the time of 9 different landscapers. Not to mention all the time he had spent getting them! Genuine, comprehensive quotes take time to compile and these businesses were wasting their time.  

What this man hasn’t considered however is the time and money that each of those businesses has put into each quote. All involved a site visit by the way, so we are talking minimum a number of hours work on something that probably wasn’t going to happen anyway.

This is costing those businesses and you can bet that that cost will be passed on to you the consumer at some point.  This is one simple extremely common example. Compiling an accurate thorough quote costs time and money and protects both you and the contractor.


Quality Comes At A Cost

Quality doesn’t come at zero cost. People typically only value things they have paid for.

Your building quote forms the basis of your contract sum. The more accurate and comprehensive the better and this in turn will lessen the chance of cost blowouts.

Creating a detailed (and accurate!) quote is a time-consuming process for a builder, often taking more than 50 hours to put together. A quote for your new home involves professional estimators, contacting subcontractors for quotes and creating a lengthy and detailed job schedule. This easily runs up a cost to the builder of several thousand dollars.

Some builders will cut corners and leave out specifics and instead include Provisional Sums (PS’s) and Prime Cost Items (PC’s). If you see either of these on your document it should raise a flag. These are just estimated allowances and so down the road, they can end up costing you significantly more once the real values are known. This is a dead giveaway the builder saved time and gave you an estimate rather than a detailed quote.

Asking for multiple quotes when you are not going to proceed  – costs.

Getting endless quotes  (often searching fra n unattainable price)- costs.

Not planning your project properly so that it stalls and isn’t completed costs

It’s a waste of time  – their time and your time.


Indecision Costs

One of the biggest contributions to time waste on site is ‘client driven changes.’ These generally result from homeowners changing their mind once something is already built or in the process of being built. Reworking any part of a building due to design changes can account for as much as 50% of the cost overrun, as well as causing delays and generating waste.

Sometimes the homeowner has a new idea that might have only occurred to them after their project has started. In this case, implementing the change after construction has started will likely increase the cost, unless the idea was to delete something…. But even then, it could cost if extra work results or rework is needed. Of course, this is a case of asking for more, get more, pay more – all perfectly acceptable. However, it may add excessive cost if it requires extra work to be redone. For instance, after the wall sheeting has gone up would be a bad time to add an extra bathroom. That should have been done when all the framing was exposed. Don’t get me wrong most changes can be accommodated BUT it will cost more (money and time) than if you have thought of it sooner, as in during the planning stage.

Commit to your design and your decisions. Fast tracking through the planning stage can end up costing you far more in the long run.


Value of Good Advice:

Value the advice of your project team. Be open and honest to give you the best chance of success.


Steps to curbing 

Some steps to take to curb and stop this waste:

  • Be realistic – have realistic expectations of what something should cost vs what you are receiving for the money.
  • Understand and clearly define your scope of work
  • Understand what goes into preparing a quote or doing a job
  • Commit to your design and your decisions.
  • Trust your team – and value their advice

You might also be interested in these posts as well:

Waste, Waste (not so gloriously) Renovation Waste

What a Waste – of  Time & Money

What a Waste  – Physical Reno Waste

What a Waste – The Reno Roller Coaster


While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, The Zen Reno does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. It is for information purposes only and expert advice should be sought regarding how this issue might affect your particular project.

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