Whether you're renovating your kitchen or your entire home, you need to write a renovation budget. The key word there is write, but that's where many first time renovators make their first mistake. Instead of sitting down and writing out a complete renovation budget, they make "guesstimates" based on a few figures scribbled down on a scrap of paper. Even if you have an unlimited budget and a few thousand dollars here and there is just "pocket change" (don't we wish!), this is a bad idea. If you're on a budget like most of us, it can lead to disaster.
Why Write a Renovation Budget?
Aside from the obvious fact that a good renovation budget can help prevent financial disaster, your budget gives you a clear picture of what has to be done, when each stage of the renovation needs to be done and by whom. It eliminates the grey areas and allows you to focus on the project as a whole as well as its individual parts. This is why a renovation budget is a good idea even for those who don't need to worry about "little things" like labour and materials costs.
How to Write Your Renovation Budget: First Steps
Your renovation budget begins the moment you say, "We need to renovate." What do you need to renovate? Is it the kitchen or the bathroom? Do you want to add on a granny flat?
For argument's sake, let's say you just bought a house that needs a little TLC but is in otherwise good repair. You love the house, but you'd love it even more if you made some changes. What are those changes? That question is the basis for your renovation budget. Now all you have to do is clarify things. Here's what to do:
- Walk around the house with a notebook and pen in hand, writing down a list of renovations as you go. Don't censor yourself. If you'd love to have a skylight in the living room, write it down, along with "paint the living room", "needs new carpet" and whatever else comes to mind.
- Prioritise your list. What's important? What can wait? Try to resist the temptation to make those "guesstimates." If there's rising damp, that's a high priority item, even if it means going without replacing the old sliding glass door with those frameless glass bifold doors you saw here on Home Improvement Pages. Don't cross the doors off the list, though: just rewrite your list in order of priority.
- What can you do yourself and what do you need professional help with? If you've painted the walls before, enjoyed doing it and gotten pleasing results, great. If you think you might be able to do the tiling if you have to, put a question mark next to that.
How to Write Your Renovation Budget: Final Steps
Now that you know what you need, you're ready to finalise the details:
- Start by figuring out what you can afford. If you're going to have to take out a loan, find out what the payments will be now and into the future. Can you afford to make the repayments now? Are you reasonably sure you'll be able to comfortably handle them in the future?
- Now start getting quotes. For those things you plan on doing yourself, find out how much the materials are going to cost. For everything else, get quotes from the experts who will be doing the work for you.
- Add up the total. If you're like most of us, you will be over your budget, so go to step 4.
- Eliminate those things you don't need until you are back on track with your budget.
- When you're within range of your budget, look at some things that could be done more economically. Do you really need a granite benchtop in your kitchen?
Finally, trim down your budget a little further to give yourself breathing room for cost overruns. Most experienced renovators add 5 to 10 percent to their anticipated costs. If you're inexperienced, 10 percent is probably safer.
Now you're ready to go. If you've followed the steps above, you'll find that your renovations will go smoothly and you'll eliminate most nasty surprises. Who knows? You may even be able to afford to buy that skylight or those bifold doors.