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Reducing the Costs of Renovations

  • 3 years ago

Renovating or extending a house, or building one from scratch, is an expensive and all-consuming project so you’ll want to reduce costs and hassle wherever you can. These 11 tips can help you to do just that.

Determine your budget and stick to it

Pin down your budget, add an extra 10-15% for contingencies, lay it out for your architect and don’t budge unless you find out your new home is on the site of a pagan burial ground and you need an in-house exorcist.

Keep it simple

The more complex the shape of the building is, the more time and money it’ll involve. Every extra corner, alcove, and roof hip increases the material and labour costs. If you don’t really need it, don’t design it. When you have your plan, stick to it as rigidly as you stick to your budget (pagan burial grounds aside…).

Do it yourself

Well, do as much as you can yourself, anyway. Some tasks are low-skilled and repetitive and your construction team might actually appreciate you helping out or even taking them over. Ask what you can do and let them train you up – you never know, you could discover hidden talents.

Think about cheaper materials

Can you get away with some softwoods instead of hardwoods, for example? Do you have an old kitchen counter that could be repurposed? Make friends with the guys at your local reclamation yard as you could get access to cheap or even free fittings, lengths of wood, marble slabs and so on.
Price up each work separately
If you source your own floor tiles, for example, you can then find a good quote for someone to lay them. This can be a bit more time-consuming, but if your chums at the reclamation yard come through for you, you could save quite a bit.

Engage a quantity surveyor

Your architect won’t always know what your eventual cost will be, so using a quantity surveyor to tot everything up and find ways to reduce the costs will more than pay for itself.

Learn on the job

If you enjoyed the simpler tasks your construction team gave you, then moving onto more complex procedures could save you a packet. EO knows of one diminutively-built woman who learned to render walls, plaster them, lay concrete floors and weld so that she could reduce the costs of renovating her derelict manor house.

Use methods and materials that your builders are familiar with

If your team has to grapple with unfamiliar techniques and materials, then there may be excess wastage and extra time added on. At worst, your finished product might be sub-standard. Find out what your team works best with and use these items, processes and materials as much as you can.

Do your homework – and lots of it

Changing your plans part-way through a build because you didn’t realise how difficult, expensive or just plain wrong they were will only add to your eventual costs. Go to self-build expos, subscribe to all the magazines, join all the forums, visit all the open days, bore yourself to death (let alone friends and family) and only then start to make plans.

Use off-the-shelf as much as possible

Bespoke costs extra. Period. Using standard sizing means you can pick up doors and other fittings off the shelf, saving time and money.

Always shop smart

Always ring around builders’ merchants before buying anything. Let them know you’re looking for trade prices and maybe drop the name of your construction team as most merchants will offer a discount or two. Ask about free delivery, too, as many smaller builders’ merchants might offer this with orders over a certain size.

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