How much should my renovation really cost?
When it comes to a renovation budget, it can be hard to know where to start. It pays to get advice from people who have been there before.
Loni Parker, the editor of Adore Home Magazine, writes about renovating for a living and has just finished a renovation of her own.
We asked Loni for her advice on how to set and stick to a home renovation budget.
Setting your initial figure
Setting your budget doesn’t just come down to what you can afford to spend, it’s also about what makes sense in terms of a return.
Ask yourself, will your renovation return be financial or lifestyle driven?
For example, if you’re renovating to sell, your budget is going to be smaller than if you’re planning to live there for a while.
Ask yourself, will your renovation return be financial or lifestyle driven? Picture: Hannah Photography
Even though Loni and her family plan to stay in their home for at least a few years, she set a budget according to her home’s resale value.
“Have a rough guide of how much similar houses are going for in your area to avoid overcapitalising on your renovation,” she explains.
“For us, we bought our [Queensland-based] house for $415,000 and, given its size [three bedrooms, one bathroom], it could probably only go for $650,000 max. We didn’t want to spend more than $100,000 on a renovation.”
It pays off in the long-run to set aside a buffer of at least 10% in case of emergencies, she says.
Start with big ticket items
Start your budget by costing out the major features or products that need replacing or work, such as flooring, windows, tiling and big-ticket appliances.
“I think it’s good to know where to spend and where to save,” Loni says.
Flooring is one area you should consider paying a premium on, she suggests.
“Generally speaking, the more something costs, the better the quality. So, don’t go too cheap with the flooring because it covers most of your home.”
Flooring is one area you should consider paying a premium on. Picture: Hannah Photography
While many buyers love a timber floor, there can be a huge price difference between hardwood timber and laminate.
“We went with a hybrid floor for the living/dining/kitchen,” Loni says. “It looks like timber but it’s actually man-made, which works for us because it’s low maintenance and more affordable than real timber.”
Hybrid flooring can cost between $39m2 and $75m2 for product only, with Loni’s coming in around $59 per square metre, for product only.
Meanwhile an engineered timber floor starts from $69m2 (supply only), while your least expensive laminate is $20m2 (supply only).
Don’t forget smaller items
Tapware, mirrors, door handles, light switches – these smaller, less obvious items add up over the long run. Therefore, it’s a great place to find savings, Loni says.
“You could spend $100 per light switch if you want to go with the most premium product on the market, but I just don’t think that’s going to add value to your house,” she begins, noting that a standard light switch installation could cost you less than $10.
“Think about what a prospective buyer would look at in terms of what is value-adding.”
Get labour quotes
Pricing product is the beginning – but it’s certainly not the end! Don’t look at the product in isolation or you will get tripped up. Labour can be a significant portion of your total cost.
Labour can be a significant portion of your total cost. Picture: Hannah Photography
The cost of labour and contractors vary between project and the size of the space, so it’s difficult to set a standardised cost. However, Loni recommends getting at least three quotes to secure the right price for your project.
“I always get at least three quotes that’s usually sufficient,” she says. “Over time, we’ve found reliable tradesmen who we keep going back to.”
It never hurts to ask around — chances are someone you know has already done the hard yards for you.
“Always ask friends first,” Loni says. “Word of mouth is the most powerful tool and people with experience in renovating can really help you find good tradespeople.”
If you still want a rough guide, Loni estimates a kitchen renovation in 2020 to cost between $10k-$45k+, a living room $10k-$15k+ and a bathroom $10k-$35k+.
What about furniture?
Furnishings are the fun part, but they can often be forgotten when plotting out the budget for a renovation. Don’t let this be the area where your costs blow out.
You may think you’re happy with your current furniture, but it’s not unusual that after a renovation you’ll find the old stuff simply doesn’t go with the new space.
These days you can find good quality, second-hand furnishings on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. However, if you want something like a couch first hand you could be looking at $250-$500 for a budget option to upwards of $5,000 depending on your style preference, size needs and lust for designer goods.
It’s best to allow plenty of time to source the right furniture as many of these big-ticket items are best viewed in person before making the investment.
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