It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of renovating, but don’t forget some fundamental requirements.
When it comes to renovating, most of us are so focused on sticking to budgets and attaining our desired aesthetics that we can slip-up on basic planning.
While not as fun as picking paint colours or designing your dream kitchen, adhering to building codes and safety regulations are ultimately more important. With that in mind, here are a few things you should never forget when renovating.
1. Fire safety: Install or upgrade smoke alarms
If you’re undergoing a renovation, it’s a good time to check your smoke alarms are in working order and meet the current guidelines.
All new builds in Queensland must have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
Queensland, for example, currently requires any new builds or major renovations to have interconnected, photoelectric smoke alarms installed in specified locations throughout the premises.
Here are a few smoke alarm regulations to stay on top of:
Getting the right alarm
Check the smoke alarm regulations in your state and ensure your home meets the current fire safety advice.
Using Queensland as an example, to meet the upgraded staged implementation requirements, your smoke alarm systems must be photoelectric and interconnected, so if one alarm sounds, the rest will follow.
“All smoke alarms that are new must meet the Australian Standard 3786-2014,” Queensland Fire and Emergency Services‘ Executive Manager, Fire Safety Section, Mark Halverson, explains.
“For this reason, be cautious if purchasing them online, or alternatively buy them from electrical supply or hardware stores.”
Installing smoke alarms correctly
When installing smoke alarms, you must ensure they meet the correct guidelines for installation.
If fitting the smoke alarms yourself, ensure they comply with regulations. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy
For instance, the Queensland regulations require smoke alarms to be installed on each storey of your home, in each bedroom and along hallways. Early warning that the evacuation route is becoming compromised is vital to safely evacuating.
These new photoelectric alarms can either be hardwired or powered by a 10-year, non-removable battery. While an electrician must do the hardwired jobs, no qualification or license is required to install battery alarms. To do so however, you must observe the regulations of where they must be placed.
“[In Queensland], smoke alarms must be placed on the ceiling unless it’s impracticable to do so, for example where there are exposed beams. For sloping ceilings, alarms must be between 500mm and 1500mm from the apex of the ceiling,” Halverson says.
“The alarms should also not be positioned within 300mm of the junction between wall and ceiling. This is known as ‘dead air space’ and it may affect the function of the smoke alarm.
“Finally, smoke alarms must not be placed within 300mm of light fittings or within 400mm of fan blades, or air conditioning outlets.”
2. Getting approvals
There is a certain amount of bureaucracy involved in renovating that almost everyone loathes. However, it still has to be done!
Don’t forget to seek your council approvals months before starting your renovation. Picture: Pexels
While most councils will not require approval for smaller interior renovations, don’t be tripped up just because you think the renovation is minor. Do your research first and get planning far in advance.
For instance, you may need approval if your renovations affect or alter any plumbing, gas or electrical. Similarly, approvals will likely be required to install a hot water heater, if you want to make changes to your roof or add in a fence.
The moral of the story here is do your research well in advance and apply for any permits at least a couple of months before starting your renovation.
3. Check your insurance
Before renovating, check with your insurer to find out what coverage you have during the project.
While your contractors should also have insurance, you will still want to consider other home and contents insurance needs. Some caveats for instance may mean your coverage changes if the home isn’t lived in for a certain period of time.
Similarly, don’t forget to update your building (and possibly contents) insurance after your renovation is complete.
Insurance is one cost many overlook when doing a renovation budget. If you’re creating more space or making other high-value additions, your premiums will likely go up. Don’t forget to always keep a reserve when drafting your initial budget and factor in the ongoing costs — such as higher premiums — of running your new home.
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