Budget renovations: where to draw the line
Were you just watching a certain renovations-based reality show, maybe rhyming with ‘The Plock’? Did a couple of lads in their twenties just chop a priceless art deco drinks cabinet in half before turning it into a bookshelf? That kind of thing should be illegal. Renovating is on everyone’s minds now and with the returns a smartly renovated bathroom can bring, who can blame them. But buyers can always tell when a job has been rushed or done too cheaply so how can you renovate economically without it looking cheap?
Do you actually need to renovate?
Are we talking about an extra wing on the house or is the kitchen just looking tired? You may find that a paint job and a few minor changes with your lighting and storage will help scale down your initial plans. Begin with a spring clean and try to create as much space in the room before you begin to look at changing it structurally.
Kitchens and bathrooms are renovation favourites because they offer many options to renovators that are then visible to buyers. If the actual layout of your kitchen already works, focus on cheap and achievable changes. Refurbish existing draws and cabinets with new paint, new handles and DIY soft-close adaptors. You would be surprised how soft-close adaptors will change your impressions of your own kitchen.
There are DIY paint kits for kitchen countertops that resemble stone but be careful of this looking cheap. If jobs require precision or particular tools then seek professional help. Don’t risk the resale value of a project on your initial savings.
Cosmetic renovations are often for those who wish to buy, renovate and sell. This requires an immediate profit, which calls for smart and simple renovations. This is about investing your money into areas that are clearly on show. Kitchens and bathrooms are clear choices as well as exteriors and landscaping. If you are thinking DIY, look at doing some work on your laundry to practice some of those jobs you will need for larger rooms.
With anything that is going to cost you money, look at your budget before you begin. If your renovation plans are minor and you intend on doing a lot of the work yourself, set aside enough money for quality paints, flooring and smart lighting options. Flooring is the first thing to show wear and tear, while lighting on average uses up to 15% of a household’s electricity budget. Consider installing skylights as a cheap way to bring natural light into a room. Highlighting existing space, painting in light colours and utilising natural light will save you money that can go into simple but higher-end lighting or artwork. If you are looking for resale value, consider the impact a room has on those who first walk in.
If you do decide to get some professional help, remember that this isn’t always going to be the more expensive route. Builders have access to materials for a cheaper rate and can often help you find timber and tiling from previous jobs or from other tradespeople they know. Remember that using a professional can often be a way to cap costs.
The biggest rule in the book: never do electrical or plumbing work yourself. Electrical work beyond changing a lightbulb is often illegal without having a relevant licence, not to mention extremely dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Mondays are tradie’s busiest days, any guesses why? Weekend DIYs gone wrong.
The second biggest rule in the book: Don’t. Move. The. Bathtub – or the toilet or the sink for that matter. Any designs you make for your renovations should try to work around the existing plumbing of the property. This avoids both the cost of rerouting the plumbing as well as the risk of coming across any unforeseen problems when ripping up the floors.
Depending on the scale of your larger renovations, you have a choice of using a draftsperson, a building designer or lastly an architect. A good architect will of course help to create designs that aim to save money in the long run. They also provide the skills as a project manager, but their fees are going to be the highest as a percentage of the build. Building designers or a draftsperson are two different avenues to go down, providing a cheaper way to realise your initial sketches and present them to your local council. Whoever you choose, research their previous work, talk to their previous clients and choose someone with experience in your local council area.
Remember that even in the largest of renovations you can follow the principles mentioned above to save your money.