How to renovate on a budget

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Q: What’s the single best way to ensure I don’t overspend on my home renovation project?

A: If there was just one thing you could do it would be this: Keep things simple, such as using standard-sized fittings and materials which most tradesmen are familiar with. This will prevent costs running away.

Q: What’s the most expensive part of a home renovation project?

A: Generally the most expensive aspect of a home renovation project is the cost of labour. Having an army of builders, plasterers, roofers, tiler, electricians and plumbers in your home for weeks on end is bound to add up.

So if there are some simple parts of the work you can do yourself alongside the tradesmen, it’s a good idea to get stuck in. This will keep you close to the project, well informed of progress as well as saving some labour costs.

However, you won’t save any time and could potentially put yourself and others in danger if you undertake any renovation work yourself that requires skills and previous experience such as plastering, electrical work, gas plumbing and bricklaying.

Hiring the right skilled tradesmen for the job is vital in keeping your costs to a minimum. When you are choosing who to invite round to estimate the work involved you’ll need to ask some sensible questions to make sure they’re the ideal company for your project.

Our top 10 of sensible questions are:
1. “Have you worked on a project like this recently?”
2. “Can I speak to some of your previous customers?”
3. “Are you accredited?” You can search for FMB accredited builders in your area
4. “How long have you been in business?”
5. “Do you have employers liability, public liability and contract works insurance?”
6. “How often will I see you and hear updates on progress?”
7. “Do you guarantee your work?”
8. “Can you provide a schedule of works?”
9. “What happens if the cost or scope changes?”
10. “Will you be using subcontractors?”

Q: I don’t want to buy low quality but how can I save money?

A: One of the most effective ways to save money on your home renovation project is to mix a few expensive items with cheaper off the shelf items. For example a standard, low cost bathroom suite is transformed into a more luxurious room with expensive taps and clever lighting.

Searching for basic fittings for fitted wardrobes, kitchen units and bathroom suites in DIY stores and flat pack companies can save you a fortune.

Q: I’m renovating on a budget, what other tips do you have for me?

A: Planning: To make sure you stick to your budget then you will need to plan, plan and plan some more. Work with your chosen tradesmen and write down a detailed schedule of works, showing when each part of the work is due to start and complete, when certain equipment needs to be on-site and when certain fittings will need to be delivered. Most importantly, once the plan has been agreed don’t change your mind as this always ends up being very expensive!

Measurements: Measure all the areas being renovated, then ask someone else to double-check the measurements with you. Having accurate measurements will ensure you can choose the right fittings and there won’t be any delays caused by having to wait for replacements to arrive on-site.

Buy Your Own: Sourcing your own bargain materials and cut-price fittings online lets you stay in control of the fixed costs. Doing this will let you negotiate directly with the suppliers plus you may be able to find bargains that the tradesmen may overlook. It will also avoid paying any markup that your contractor is likely to add.

Avoid brand new and trendy: You’ll save a lot of money by using fittings that are on sale, seconds or end of line products. Salvage as much as possible, it’s amazing what you can find in a recycling centre. Recycle where you can too, sometimes it’s possible to recycle some of the old materials being taken out of the house such as old floorboards sanded down to use to build a new table top or new garden benches. It’s time to get creative!

Contingency fund: Finally, even on a tight budget you need to allocate some of the costs to dealing with surprises! The majority of houses have strange wiring or piping issues that you won’t know about until you start work. Allocating 10% of your total budget to this will save you much anguish later on.

Q: Do I need to spend money on home insurance whilst I’m renovating?

A: Not buying home insurance during renovation works would be false economy. Without the right insurance in place, if there was a fire or escape of water at the property during the building works, you wouldn’t be covered.

HomeProtect offers affordable online insurance quotes to cover homes under renovation. Get your renovation home insurance quote online.


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Satisfied customers

Member of staff was helpful and understood my need to insure a vacant property undergoing renovation. Good insurance for a good price. Review Centre, 11 July 2017
The team member I spoke to was very thorough regarding my home improvement plans. He gave me reasonable advice about what policy I would need, and was honest about what I didn't need at this stage. He ensured I knew what conditions I would need to meet to ensure the policy remained valid regarding which contractors I chose. Thankfully I haven't needed to make a claim, so don't know what the team would be like in that case. Trustpilot, 21 August 2017
It is nice to see that renewing a policy was easy and the prices had not risen from last year so I was happy to continue with my policy instead of having to go on comparison sites to get a better deal. Trustpilot, 28 February 2017