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Here’s how to ensure your home renovation stays on budget

14 June 2021

Costs can add up fast during a home renovations project. Every layout change, every last-minute extra, every unexpected repair… it’s all another dent in your hard-earned budget.

While we’d all love to have enough in the bank to be able to raise our budget, most renovators out there are on a strict price limit.

So how do you ensure you only end up paying what you can afford?

“For most people out there planning a renovations job, their final budget really is their final budget,” says Richard O’Hagan, contractor and co-founder of Open Plan Homes.

Here are some of Richard’s key insights on staying within budget.

1. Think again about the pricey zinc roof

The number one reason renovations go over budget?

“People adding on extras,” says Richard. You’ll pick up ideas as you go and your list of ‘must-haves’ might change.

Pricey extras like zinc roofing, sliding patio doors or aluminium gutters can significantly drive up the cost of the job, so figure out your priorities ahead of time.

“You might decide that the doors are worth the extra spend, but you won’t be able to justify the zinc roof. It’s about moving things around.” 

2. Keep some budget back for unexpected repairs

Design extras aside, often a client will be faced with what Richard calls “the necessary extras” which can sometimes crop up. These are repair costs that could come to light after the fact.

Richard notes that any competent builder will have had a thorough look around the site to flag potential issues before pricing the job, but certain issues can still remain hidden.

There are plenty of structural things that you can’t see until you start digging down into the ground or opening up ceilings.

Aim to have some money kept aside just in case, especially if your home is an older build.

3. Don’t knock that wall until you’re 100% sure

 “Recently I took down a wall as per the building plan, and then the client changed their mind and decided they wanted it back up,” recalls Richard. “Those kinds of changes can add significantly to your final cost.”

If you can’t quite visualise how a room might look with a dividing wall or a blocked up window, improvise.

“Hang up a sheet to show where a wall would go, or ask your builder to put down a palette so you can imagine the room with a bed in it,” says Richard. “Better to decide against it now than to realise later on it was the wrong choice.”

Dog sitting watching young girl dance in the living room

4. Question every quote – and shop around

If you’re not sure about a quote for supplies or simply want to cut costs, do some shopping around. “With the basics like internal doors, pick them out yourself instead of asking the builder to do it. That will cut out the middle man,” says Richard.

“Go online or spend a few hours walking around home supply stores to give you a sense of what’s out there.”

5. Find a contractor who is happy to work within your budget

You want the most cost-effective design plan for your money, so find a builder who wants that too. “A good contractor will be upfront about added costs and will look for efficient ways to save you money,” says Richard.

“Ask for the estimated final price before any work is done, so that everyone is on the same page.”

For more information, head over to our  Loan section.

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The content of this blog does not constitute advice and is for general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice before relying on anything stated in the blog. Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.

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