Renovating On A Shoestring Budget


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Doing property renovations used to be affordable. But after the credit crunch, things changed drastically. From the mounting list of permissions you need to secure to the rising cost of building materials, all these costs add up. Hence, many renovators have to limit their budget when undertaking projects.

To help you navigate the twists and turns of renovating on a tight budget in a post GFC economy, here are a few things to consider before picking up the hammer.

Don’t renovate to increase the value of your house. Do it to enhance your family’s living space.

Tim Taylor, director at London-based estate agent Wenlock & Taylor, explained that while renovations may increase saleability of your house, its selling price will still be determined by the market value of similar properties in your neighbourhood.

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Before you start tearing down the place, make sure you are renovating the areas that add value to your home. What’s the point on spending if it ends up hurting the value of the home?

He also exposed that the only renovation projects which do increase your house’s value are loft or garage renovations, because they create additional accommodation in your home.

After figuring out what to do with your property, now’s the perfect time to do plan and budget the entire project.

Set a realistic budget. When I say realistic, it must be the amount of money you can really afford – plus a few additional hundreds or thousands for those unforseen expenses during the duration of the project.

Budgeting used to be my Achilles’ heel. I would always go over-budget on my renovation projects, because I can’t control the impulse to buy! From tiles to fixtures and everything in between, if it’s new, shiny, and looks pretty I’m going to buy it. I only realised that this isn’t the wise thing to do when it comes to renovation, since people may think that the stuff you bought looks “cheap” for their taste!

Another thing people opt to do when renovating on a budget is to do the manual labour on their own in order to stay on budget.

I would recommend going the DIY route for small projects and fix ups. But when it comes to major renovation projects requiring electrical and plumbing, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals!

Santander Insurance UK conducted a study and found that 72 per cent of households in the UK who are planning to do renovation work are planing to carry out some or all of the work themselves. However, it was also revealed in the same survey that around one in seven of these homeowners (14%) will cause damage to their home in the process, at an average cost of £344. At this rate, rather than score some savings, you’ll just end up spending more for any fix up you’re going to do with the damage.

Another reason why you shouldn’t DIY all the time is because it is outlawed in some places.

In 2005, the government introduced electrical safety rules across England and Wales that require any fixed electrical installation work to be carried out by a certified electrician. And if you decide to fit your own windows, you’ll need to secure a FENSA certificate first to make sure that the installation work has been self-certified as complying with building regulations. Given that, be sure to include hiring these professionals as part of your budget (assuming your project involves electriclas and window fitting).

Overall, keeping costs down for DIY projects is doable. Just be sure to plan accordingly. Keep in mind that costs don’t just include the materials you’ll need. Always have something in reserve to cover unexpected costs. Moreover, there are times when you’ll need to hire professional help to comply with the law. Again, it’s important to keep these things in mind.

One last thing, if there are a lot of things to do in your house, don’t be tempted to fix everything immediately. A big project almost always requires a huge budget. Instead, subdivide it in smaller projects, starting with the most important. A more focused approach can help keep costs down.

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