Home renovations are still viable- Image: Unsplash
  • Construction costs surge, forcing compromises from homeowners
  • An expert suggests focusing on high-return renovations like layouts
  • Aim to get multiple quotes and create a detailed budget

Rising costs and high demand for trades is making life difficult for homeowners wanting to renovate.

However, the dream of renovating your own home is still far from over, according to Upside Realty’s, Director of Sales, James Kirkland

With construction costs surging by a record 11.9% over the past 12 months, more Australians are trimming down their renovation plans and modifying their designs to save money.

“There’s never been a more expensive time to be planning a renovation and that means it’s even more important to learn to compromise on the plans for your home,” said Kirkland.

“You want to be sure that the changes you’re making are going to add substantial value to your property and not cause you financial stress.”

“Focus on key areas of the home that need updating such as bathrooms and kitchens where you’re going to see the biggest return on your investment.”

James Kirkland, Upside Realty, Director of Sales

Kirkland said rapidly rising interest rates and construction costs have made the last 12 months challenging for home renovators but conditions have started to ease.

“The big challenge for the industry is still staffing shortages so finding a builder that you trust and you know has reliable tradies is a good place to start.”

Know your budget

Kirkland said there is still room to renovate in the current market but one of the first things homeowners need to do is analyse the scope of the project and assess if it is feasible at current prices.

“Whether it be through a renovation budget planner app or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet, start by calculating your renovation costs.”

“A per square metre cost is a good place to start but don’t forget to add in a 10% to 20% buffer for unforeseen issues.”

He said knowing what to spend and what to save on is important and more money should be spent on layout than fixtures and finishes because you can always change them down the track when you can afford to upgrade.

He also suggests making sure you have the budget to undergo the renovation or at least have access to the required finance

“It’s estimated 53% of homeowners who plan to renovate don’t have enough in their savings to fund it.

“Look into home renovation financing options such as home loan top-ups, refinancing or a personal loan that you can tap into to access the money you need.”

He said that you need to study your options and renovate to match your lifestyle because there’s no point in creating your dream home if you can’t afford to eventually live in it.

Detail the design

According to Kirkland, once you know your budget, engage an architect or draughtsman to draw up your plans.

“It’s useful to know what kind of materials and fittings you’d like to use as incorporating this into the design early will give you greater clarity on future costs.

“Consider durable and cost-effective materials.”

Kirkland said it’s vital that would-be renovators look to get multiple quotes.

“Some homeowners make the mistake of settling for the first or even the second quote they’re given.

“Speak to a range of tradespeople in your area to find out how much they think the job will cost and see if these match up to your cost calculator results.

“Going with the cheapest quote won’t necessarily give you the best results so make sure you ask for testimonials and do your own research.”

Kirkland said it can be tempting to be swept away by home renovation shows or interior design magazines when doing your renovation, but you run the risk of widening your renovation into other areas of the house or choosing fixtures and fittings that are well above your price range.

“The price tag doesn’t always reflect the value of the materials and appliances you’re getting so make sure you stay on track.”

He also said that while it’s best to leave construction to the professionals, sometimes when costs blow out on a project you may need to get creative and step out of your comfort zone and consider what DIY jobs you can take on yourself.

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