Renovating a house can help you create the living space you’ve always wanted. Whether you’ve dreamt of an open plan kitchen/diner, longed for a living room that opens onto the garden or been desperate to knock down some walls and open up your living space, renovating is the perfect solution.
However, with the average cost of renovating a 3-bed house in the UK now over £50,000, keeping an eye on your finances is essential. To help you get great value from your renovation project, we’re looking at some of the best ways of renovating a house on a budget.
1. Find out if an architect is essential
If you’re adding a large extension, or carrying out other major works on your property, it’s probably a good idea to get an architect. Their expertise can make a big difference to the success of your project and help you to achieve the result you really want.
However, if you’re only adding a small extension or knocking down a couple of walls, you may not need to employ a professional architect. This is especially true if you already have a clear idea of the layout and aesthetic you’re looking for.
You can either draw the plans yourself or employ a draughtsperson to lay the design out for you. In some cases, your building contractor may also be able to create the drawings required to get your project through planning.
2. Keep it small
While it can be tempting to build a big extension and add a significant amount of living space to your home, it’s important to remember that every square meter you build will add to the total cost of the renovation. Instead of going big, bold and pricey, opt for something small, elegant and affordable.
Keeping your project small can also help to streamline things on the planning front. UK permitted development rules allow homeowners to add an extra 4m to a detached property and 3m to any other property without acquiring permission. If you can stick to these parameters, your project will be a lot quicker to complete and a lot more affordable.
3. Keep it simple
When renovating a home, it’s all too easy to get carried away and make your plans more complicated than they need to be. Often, keeping things simple can help to keep your spending to a minimum.
Avoid any unnecessary architectural flourishes and cut out any other extras that aren’t integral to the design. Focussing on the essentials will ensure your money is spent in the right places and you get the result you really want.
4. Use standard sizes
As soon as you start using bespoke fixtures and fittings, your budget will skyrocket. Instead of having windows, doors, furnishings and accessories made to measure, create a design that takes standard sizes into account.
If you use standard window, door, worktop and fixture sizes, you can buy a lot more of your materials directly from trade suppliers and DIY stores instead of having them made specially for you. This can save you an absolute fortune and help you to keep your budget to a minimum.
Pairing these standard fixtures and fittings with a few carefully chosen designer touches or bespoke features can help them to really stand out. Good design will also help to ensure your home looks unique, stylish and original.
If you employ an architect, draughtsperson or other professional to draw up your plans, make sure they know you want to use standard sizes wherever possible. This will allow them to create a design that takes these off the shelf materials into account.
5. Find the right contractor
Once you’ve got some plans for your renovation, and more or less decided on a budget, it’s time to put the project out to tender and find a contractor to complete the work. At this stage, you’ll see just how varied quotes can be. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some builders to quote thousands - or even tens of thousands - more than another builder for the same job.
Take the time to get quotes from a range of different contractors. As well as big, professional looking operations with lots of staff, look at smaller firms and even one-man bands. Often, these smaller businesses have lower overheads and so are able to bring jobs in on a much lower budget.
Before choosing your contractor, make sure you check them as thoroughly as possible. Look at online reviews and, if possible, talk to previous clients about the work that was carried out.
6. Shop around for materials
The cost of building materials can vary significantly between suppliers. Shopping around for the best deals could help you to save money and keep your budget under control.
In some cases, your building contractor will be able to access trade deals and special discounts that are unavailable to the general public. In these instances, it can work out cheaper to have your builder buy materials on your behalf.
7. Get your hands dirty
Rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck into the building work is another great way to save money and make your home renovation budget go that little bit further. Before your builders arrive, take the time to rip out any existing fixtures and fittings that need to go. Any other prep you can do, like stripping wallpaper, clearing the garden and knocking down lean-tos, will also help to speed up the project and reduce your total spend.
If you have time while work is underway, you could consider labouring on the site to help move things along. Shifting materials, running errands and generally helping out can allow your builders to focus on the task in hand and get the job done as quickly as possible.
You can also help to keep costs down by taking on some of the finishing work yourself. Turn your hand to painting and decorating to save hundreds of pounds and put your own personal stamp on the renovation project.
8. Keep your eyes peeled for bargains
In the run up to your home renovation, keep your eyes peeled for bargains. For example, if you’re renovating your kitchen, look out for special offers on sinks, tiles, taps and other fixtures and fittings. Buying these items when they’re on sale, and storing them till they’re needed, can help you to keep control of your home renovation budget.
If you have a little creative flare, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by upcycling some of your existing materials and furnishings. You could try salvaging materials from any walls or rooms that were demolished to make way for the renovation. Old bricks and scaffolding boards can look great when used in interior design and you might also be able to reuse old windows and old doors in your new renovation.
10. Use reclaimed materials
If there aren’t any materials you can make use of on your building site, you may still be able to use reclaimed materials from other projects. Take a look online to see if there are any reclamation yards, scrap yards or architectural salvagers in your area that sell old materials.
As well as saving you money, these old materials can add character and a little period charm to your newly renovated home.
11. Combine high street and bespoke furnishings
Once the building work is complete and you’re ready to furnish your newly renovated home, try looking at high street suppliers as well as bespoke options. Often, buying ready-made pieces online provides a great balance between style and affordability.
Search for pieces that have a designer feel but a high street price tag. Taking a little time to find furnishings that are a bit different can make a huge difference to the finished look of your property and help your interior to stand out from the crowd.