Why, oh why, do I do it to myself; take on a major project just before the start of the Christmas close down period, during the hottest, stormiest time of the year and before I take an overseas holiday? Well as I said, this blog is possibly also about ‘how not to do things’!
Sometimes, things just work against us. Yes, I did procrastinate a little, but in my defence I had a lot of outback work going on and couldn’t concentrate on another project of this size. It was only after the work commitments eased up a bit that I could devote more time to moving the renovation and new build forward. I found out there is a lot of preparation work that needs to be done beforehand that is not immediately obvious. Plans need to be drawn up and submitted to the certifier for approval, notices to go to neighbours for any setback relaxations, financing to arrange and quotes to obtain from various builders and tradesmen. We also had a change in the Brisbane City Council planning codes to contend with, which meant we had to decide whether it was better to submit under the old planning rules or the new.
So, the renovation commenced on the 1st of December. For those who know what it is like over the summer in Queensland, you can understand that this is not an ideal time to start. High temperatures combined with higher than normal humidity make the days so hot as to be energy-sapping. The summer storms also pose a risk to the building process as they can dump huge amounts of water in a short period of time, resulting in footings filled with water which can potentially collapse the sides. The accompanying high winds can pick up building materials and spread them around the yard if they are not secured or, as a number of home owners on the south side of Brisbane found out recently, can take off a roof if given a chance.
There has been a big push by the tradies to complete as much as possible before the Christmas close down period. This generally starts from the 24th December through till the start of the second full week in January, although some suppliers closed up shop on the 19th December to give themselves a full three weeks off. This is not such a big deal for us, as the builder will complete his part of this renovation in a much faster time than we could ourselves, so the two week downtime for us will have a minor impact.
This is not something that a new renovator or someone who is renovating on a tight timeframe can afford. But don’t worry, there are always tradies out there who are interested in earning some extra cash over this period. As an example, I took over the bathroom renovation of a rental property when a builder I had employed was dragging his heels, costing me time off the rental market. This builder told me that there were no tradesmen available for the Christmas close down period and that he was going to have three weeks off. I immediately rang a couple of tilers who had been recommended by the tile store. One of them was available between the Christmas / New Year break and was looking to earn a little extra money for a holiday he had planned for later in January. Three days later, the bathroom was a gleaming, tile-clad room.
So the moral of the story is, don’t start your project in December if you can help it, but if you can’t, it is not the end of the world. You’ll just have to work a bit smarter and ensure you have the materials required on hand before the close down period. Don’t be afraid to ring around and find someone who is willing to work over that time.
Anyone have any other thoughts on renovating over this time of the year?