'Future proof' your renovation

Many of my clients during the selection stage show concern for 'longevity'. The term ‘trend’ by definition is something that’s always changing, which means that today’s trends are often tomorrow’s regrets. Remember those fashion faux pas you’ve lived to regret? Leg warmers anyone?

Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford to be fickle when considering a major home renovation: decorating mistakes don’t come cheap. One of the biggest mistakes people make when renovating is to follow a trend. But there are ways you can future-proof ideas, starting from the planning stages through to the decorating. Whether you are planning a new build, renovations or extending an existing home, there are future-proofing practices will save you time and money – as well as remorse – from the planning stages through to the finishing flourishes.

1. Plan ahead Don’t get caught up with what you think looks good now. Sure, open-plan living looks appealing in glossy magazines, but it isn’t always practical. While it’s great to be able to keep an eye on babies while you manage daily chores, as the kids grow, you may need separate space to hide away their mess, or to let them watch a movie while you prep a meal. And the older kids get, the more their parents need a retreat.

Strategise before you start the project and plan multi-functional and or transitional spaces. A renovation needs to meet your current needs and anticipate your future. Will you need a second living space, an area just for the children to play or a master retreat to escape the teenagers?

Are you likely to take in a parent or even a paying guest later on, meaning you might need to add another bathroom? Think about your home’s existing footprint and speak to a designer about creating cost-effective flexible spaces that allow your home to evolve.

Design strategies can be helpful so don't forget to put some solid time into your planning phase. Professional advice can save you a lot of heartache and expense later on. If it's lateral thinking that you need. Even if you can’t afford to extend your home now, create a plan that allows additions without undoing what you have already done. This is smart planning and will also appeal to buyers, should you wish to sell before carrying out those plans.

2. Make your home perform Some trends make sense and are wise investments for the future. Homes that prioritise healthy living, sustainability and efficiency are the fastest growing trends in New Zealand and Australian architectural design, and a direct response to the huge amount of existing ‘sick’ and under-performing homes, specifically a rash of poorly constructed homes in New Zealand that were recently proven to be far from weatherproof, and were therefore unlivable. Smart homes will provide a good return on your investment. Before you talk to your architect, assess your home’s energy star rating. You can take an online test or simply wise up on what makes an energy star-rated home. Improvements can be as simple as increasing your thermal insulation, ventilation, water and energy efficiency, to more complex changes such as selecting the right building materials, recycling materials, maximising site positioning and solar gain.

3. Prioritise function then focus on form Whether you are planning a house or just renovating a kitchen, be practical and give priority to function. Following trends, your house could be as pretty as a picture, but it’s all a waste of time and energy if it doesn’t perform at an optimal level. So, consider your home’s design and prioritise function. Efficient storage and ease of use are key to every room in the house, but are most especially important for a great kitchen design.

A minimalist kitchen is a contemporary statement, but like most trends, this popular style may become less so in time. Remember, bigger is not always better when you are renovating, and you are most likely going to be paying a per-square-metre rate to your builders. Create a layout determined by the way you and your family live on a daily basis.

Is a separate study and guest room really necessary? If overnight guests are infrequent but you need a space to work at home, why not install a pull-out wall bed inside a cupboard in an office or study space, to accommodate visitors when necessary or have a sofa bed. Make sure its good one as some of them are SOOO uncomfortable!

Bedrooms don’t need to be large spaces to serve multiple purposes either. They just need a little creative planning. Make use of all of the space you have available, including vertical space, to get the most of of every room in your home before considering whether or not you need to add on that coveted magazine-style extension.