5 steps to renovating on a budget

You can make a big difference to your home on a small budget with good planning and smart choices. Whether it's a lifestyle choice or to add value, here are 5 ways to renovating on a budget.

Step 1: Make a plan

Make a list of everything you’d like to do, and then get realistic.

Break your planning down by:

  • dividing the list into essential repairs, must haves and things that can wait
  • break the essential tasks into phases and work out approximate costs and timeframes
  • understanding exactly how much you have to spend (either through accessing equity, personal loan or savings)
  • creating a simple spreadsheet or using a budget planner to prioritise the tasks against the funds you have available
  • develop a timeline of activity.

The planning may seem like the least exciting part of your renovation, but living with a half-finished reno while you save up to finish it won’t be very exciting either.

Tip: Make sure there’s some wriggle room for contingencies, and remember a good rule of thumb for your maximum renovation budget is 10% of your home’s current value.

Step 2: Phone a friend

Chat to people you know who have renovated their home, and don’t be afraid to pick their brains on their successes and failures. Catch up with the handy people in your life and ask their advice on how to do the work you’re planning, or if they can refer you to reliable tradespeople.

Depending on the type of work you’re planning, you could call in some favours and organise a working bee to get some jobs done. It's a great way to build community and knock over a big project in quick time.

Tip: Experienced renovators often recommend working around your existing plumbing fixtures (kitchen sink, toilet, bath, shower, basin), or be ready for a budget blow out.

Step 3: Revive or replace

Time to decide what you can spruce up yourself, and what needs replacement. You can paint more than just walls – with the different types of paint available today you can give new life to kitchen cabinetry, floors, old enamel baths, bathroom basins, concrete paths and even tiles.

Paint is not the only miracle cure. Cleaning hard to get at areas – along with some reorganising and decluttering – can make a big change to your home. You may find it leads to some unexpected solutions and frees up some budget for other things.

Tip: If you’re renovating to add value, look beyond your inside walls. Its estimated painting or rendering the outside of your house will give you a return of approximately $10 for every $1 you spend.

Step 4: DIY or call a professional

When it’s time to decide what you will need a professional for and what you can do yourself, be realistic. If you’re going to do something you haven’t done before, take the time to learn how to do it – hardware stores often have DIY classes, and even a YouTube video is better than going in with no help at all.

Tip: Electrical wiring, plumbing, gas and anything structural needs professional attention to be safe and legally compliant.

Step 5: Research and shop around for building materials

If you’re looking to save by getting materials together yourself, be sure to:

  • check with your tradesperson first – they can get a tradie discount and may have an industry contact who can get you a great deal
  • look for bargains on online auction stores and recycled materials outlets
  • know your numbers so you know a bargain when you see it.

Tip: Measure twice, cut once! Millimetres matter (a lot) in renovation and a wrong measurement can be a costly mistake.

Reno ready?

Need some help with your renovation financing or budget? Talk to us on 13 77 28.

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