When it comes to renovating, a key consideration must always be ‘bang for buck’. Unfortunately, whether renovating for function or aesthetics, costs can quickly skyrocket, so it pays to be organised, have a sound understanding of what’s involved and what you want to achieve from the project.  

Architect Anthony Maiolo has a wealth of experience in bespoke residential buildings, from modern to heritage, rebuilds and new homes; but when it comes to renovations, his advice is to focus on areas that will make the biggest impact and always maintain function over aesthetics.  

“Function, in my opinion, is the most important thing to get right. Whether it be the layout of the home, use of natural light, the design and flow of the spaces – getting this right is the most important aspect of a renovation. It doesn’t matter how nice the aesthetics are, the house just won’t be an enjoyable place to live if it doesn’t function properly,” he said. 

Anthony created Luxitecture in 2012 after beginning his career in commercial design, but quickly realised his passion was in residential. He now oversees a full design service for clients, from the initial meeting to discuss plans through to drawing up the design and managing the project. In addition to his work with Luxitecture, Anthony works with a team of contractors at Little Drafting Co. in Sydney to assist with project design and review plans for quality and accuracy.  

No two properties are the same, but when it comes to renovations, Anthony and his colleagues recommend staying within the constraints of the original building as much as possible in order to create the most cost effective transformation. Curb appeal, kitchen and bathrooms as well as outdoor entertaining areas are often on the renovator’s hit list for this reason. 

“I have found limiting changes to the building footprint helps, this eliminates ground works for foundations and drainage. Working with the existing layout as much as possible also  

helps; it’s tempting and easy to delete 80 per cent of the walls and reconfigure the house, but this escalates the cost greatly,” he said. 

“The best results I have seen are houses that require limited new construction and limited structural changes, as this allows our clients to spend more money on finishes and upgrades which is what the buyers are looking at.” 

There is no shortage of inspiration for would be renovators these days, with an abundance of apps and online sources exposing us all too many and varied ways of living, but the practicalities remain. Property Portfolio asked Anthony his top tips for property owners embarking on a renovation project:  

Set a budget  

Most firms have a good idea on what can be achieved for a certain budget, so they will be able to advise whether your ideas are achievable before you go any further.  

Set the brief  

What are you trying to achieve with the renovation? Define the things you want and separate them from what you need, so your architect can focus on the main objectives. The brief will evolve as the design progresses but having a clear goal from the outset will help you achieve a better result and can also reduce the overall cost.  

Find someone with a portfolio of work similar to what you are after  

For example, if you are looking to do a small renovation, look for someone who has plenty of experience with that. Similarly, if you want to make a big impact, look for companies that do large scale transformation projects. This is not because other companies do not have the skills to undertake your job, but that their business may not be set up for what you need. Someone who works in large scale renovations is not only going to have more knowledge and experience in that type of project, but more importantly, will also have engineers and builders who are best suited for that work. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right team of people working together on your project. 

Understand the services offered by your architect  

Clearly define your involvement. You may be someone who is prepared to get largely involved in the project, including selecting materials and products, and assisting the builder and trades with questions and queries throughout the job. If that’s the case, you may require high level plans only, just enough for approvals and to get you started and this will be reflected in the architect’s price. On the other hand, you may be time poor, have limited knowledge in the industry and prefer someone else takes care of everything for you. In this case, the architect will prepare extremely detailed plans, schedules and specifications. They will visit the site regularly and administer the builder’s contract. The cost difference between these services are incomparable, so make sure you understand what you are paying for.