How to stick to your renovation budget (and tips on how to stretch it further)

November 18, 2016

The most important thing when it comes to renovating is having a clear budget. The next important thing is sticking to it.

First of all, to set the budget you will need to set up a spreadsheet. Write down everything that you want in your renovation – from what you need, to what you want. From the must-haves to the frivolous. Add in some estimations of cost next to each item so you can see where the total is sitting (don’t worry, this part will always be sky-high). From here, start striking out all of the unnecessary items. When you seem them all laid out in front of you like that, you’ll be able to see which things are really important to you versus which ones can wait.

Once you’ve set your budget, it’s time to stick to it. Here are some tips on how to do that, and also how to stretch it a bit further if you need to:

DIY where possible

Getting stuck into doing the renovations yourself will help you save a lot of money. Although tradies will often be able to source materials at a better price than the average person, what you lose there you will easily make up for in labour costs and day rates. And if you are a savvy shopper with a bit of time on your hands, you may even be able to find materials at a similar cost to the tradesmen anyway.

If you aren’t confident about picking up a hammer and doing the work yourself, there are other ways you can DIY to save money. Such as clearing out the house or yard yourself, to make way for the builders to begin. Look up skip bin hire in Melbourne and have one delivered to your home. Spend a weekend clearing out the old rubbish and mess and even start tearing down whatever needs to go before the tradies arrive. Even while they are there and working, you can hire a skip bin and help get rid of the waste materials to save them hauling it away in their trucks – and charging you by the truckload while they do it.

Standard and consistent is key

Custom building everything in your home may sound like a unique and fancy idea, but it will destroy your budget before you’ve even come close to finishing. Stick to standard sizing in all areas to stretch your budget further. A large front doorway is nice, but will cost you a considerable amount more to have a door made to fit it. If you keep the front door – and all internal doorways for that matter – standard, you will be able to buy doors ‘off the rack’ from any store. Buying this way will be cheaper than getting a custom build, plus you are more likely to come across special deals.

Another tip is to keep everything consistent in the house. Use the same kinds of materials throughout the home so you can get bulk discounts. Buying smaller amounts so that every room can be different will start to add up fast.

Plan the layout with budget in mind

If you are planning on changing the entire floor plan of your home, keep your plumbing in mind so you don’t go over budget. Where possible, keep rooms that require plumbing in the spot where they already are. So bathrooms and kitchens should remain the same, or at least close by. If you move them to the other side of the house you can expect a big bill for moving the pipes and connecting them back up again, especially if your house is on a concrete slab that will need to be cut up and replaced. If you are going up a level, it’s a good idea to have the upstairs bathroom over top of the downstairs one, so the connections can just extend from the existing area.

Plan for the unplanned

Anything to do with building work means there is a very good chance of the budget blowing out on completely unexpected things. This isn’t the fault of the builder when they are quoting you, it is just the way it is with building. Usually the blow outs are things that you won’t be able to see until work has already started. Such as finding dodgy water pipes, faulty wiring or rock under the earth where you are digging. The best bet is to keep a 20 per cent buffer in all budgets to that once you start renovations, you have the money to cover any unexpected costs.

Shop til you drop

Planning your renovations out far enough means you can spend some time really shopping around for the best deals on materials. Try to buy all items for each room from the one place to get a bulk discount. For example, don’t buy your toilet from one shop, bath from another and tiles from yet another. Where possible, package it up into a deal from the one place.

Stick to the plans

As a final point, make sure you stick to the original plans that you have signed off. Once the build work has begun, it will cost money to keep changing plans and ideas. It will not only cost in materials used and / or wasted, but it will also cost more in labour time as they have to change and fix what you’ve added or deleted from the plans.