Planning projects 101

Tackling a big DIY project? Don’t fear! Here’s how to nail down a plan that will see it through from start to successful completion.

Bunnings magazine, Autumn 2020

Make a moodboard

If an overhaul of a whole room is on the cards, a moodboard will help you form a plan. Begin by collecting ideas in a folder or online, suggests interior designer Jackie Jones. Look at online sites, flick through magazines and tear out the pages of things you like, she says.

Inspiration can come in many different forms – for example, take photos of colours and textures you are drawn to when out and about. Collecting fabric samples is helpful, too. Reviewing your choices periodically can help cement your own personal aesthetic.

“Once you feel you have enough material, edit it down to get your final overall look; this will provide you with a ‘roadmap’ to your renovation and help to eliminate the stress of decision making along the way,” says Jackie. “Continue to edit throughout the project as things develop and evolve.”

Watch it: How to install and style a pegboard

Create a timeline

Set out a prioritised checklist of activities, assigning each a realistic timeline. For example, if youre painting a wall, you may factor in time for patching dings in the plaster, or a whole day just to prep cleaning, sanding and taping up so you can begin painting the following morning.

If it’s a large project, break it down into manageable tasks, and aim to work sequentially – in other words, finish all the prep first before you move onto the fun stuff, such as painting!

Define the scale

Some tasks, including plumbing and electrics, require a licensed tradesperson. Also be realistic about your skills. If you can’t manage every task yourself, call in the experts for help.

“It’s easier and more cost-effective to bring in a professional early on rather than make expensive mistakes and then seek help,” says interior designer Luisa Volpato of Advantage Interior Design.

Work out when you’ll need professional assistance – for example, laying a new floor – and when you will be tackling the DIY such as painting the walls and trim.

Bear in mind you might want their help in the middle of the project – like after the messy preparation work, but before finishing painting.

Make a list

Measure your project space, noting the dimensions of the areas you need to consider so you can work out exactly what you’ll need to complete the task and in what quantities. There are useful online planners, such as Bunnings’ paint and flooring calculators, which can help.

Make a definitive list of everything you need to avoid mid-project trips back to the store. If youre ordering materials yourself, check and recheck your calculations and always order extra 10 per cent more flooring, an extra roll of wallpaper, for example just in case. Running out of materials before the end is not only inconvenient, but if you’re relying on professionals, it will actually cost you money in your tradies’ wasted time.

It can also make a visual difference, as Luisa explains. A plain white tile can really differ from one batch to another, so if you run out and then buy an extra box from another batch it can be a slightly different shade.

Draw up a budget

Assign realistic costs to each item. Record all estimated costs and include a decent contingency allowance. Allowing at least 20 per cent for contingencies is smart, because there will always be something you forgot, need or want, says Luisa.

Pro tip

“For a large project like a house renovation, make some basic decisions such as finishes and flooring early on. Lock those in and everything else will follow more easily.” – Jackie Jones, interior designer

Try it!

Check out our D.I.Y. Advice section for a huge range of project and renovation ideas.


Photography credit: Getty Images,


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