My renovating strategy to keep you on budget

Friday, 4th November 2016

My renovating strategy to keep you on budget

This post is bought to you by True Local - Written by Bec Douros

Whether you’re a first time renovator or a seasoned “professional”, keeping your costs on track can be a difficult task. With unexpected costs around each corner and the temptation of spending a little more here and there, it pays to get the most advice you can on the road to a great new home. George and I are now onto our ninth renovation and there is no truer statement that applies to our renovation journeys than learning from our mistakes. We had to make quite a few to really understand the right process to undertake when completing a renovation to a budget, especially to make a profit!

Knowing your strategy

Is this your forever home, or are you wanting to sell or rent following the renovations? What you are planning on doing with your home once it is renovated will have a big impact on your renovation strategy, and possibly your budget. If you are renovating for it to be your forever home, you can really do whatever you like in terms of style. However, if you are looking at reselling, you will need to consider cost vs. what you will receive in return and what colours and fittings will attract your targeted buyer. If it is a rental, you will have to consider longevity and strength of fittings and how easy the house is to look after and clean.


If there’s a sledge hammer and an unnecessary wall waiting to be smashed, a budget probably won’t stack up against the list of fun jobs ahead of you. However, it’s important to look at what you can afford to spend during the renovation process. Your budget will be your bible. Unless you’ve renovated before it’s an easy mistake to under-budget. It can be a good idea to research how much labour and materials will cost before you start, so you can create a more effective budget. One very important cost to consider is tradies. Tradies are essential to any renovation and you will never be able to complete every single part of the renovation yourself. Tradies like plumbers and electricians are specialty fields and if you want the job completed right, you can’t skimp on this cost – never under-budget in this area.

Remember, a budget doesn’t work unless you keep a record of your spending. If you’ve over-spent on paint, this may give you the motivation you need to choose less expensive tiles or tap fittings. Keeping your budget in check is all about give and take, especially when unexpected costs arise!

Talk to more than one tradie

It pays to speak to more than one tradie, as you will get a variety of quotes to consider – even if you are only saving $50 out of a $1000 job, it all adds up. One of the best tools we use to search for tradies is True Local, an online business directory, with a number of tradies in different fields who can help you with a quote. We always take the time to speak to at least three tradies for  a quote, and it doesn’t hurt to let them know you’re after the best price and you’ll be considering a number of options.

Make sure you explain your strategy and vision to potential tradies. If you’re worried about over-capitalising and wanting to stick to a tight budget, tell them this. Any good tradie will understand and will work with you to get the best result. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with them. Some of the best tradies we have sourced through True Local we have used again and again. In the long run it has saved us money as these trades always look after us in price because we provide them with return business (and a morning coffee onsite!)

Read Reviews

We always make sure that we read reviews for every tradesman we consider hiring, so that we can get an idea of what other people have to say about a particular tradies’ past work and know that we are dealing with someone who has a great track record. We often use True Local for this research, as all the tradies have a rating and reviews from past customers.  

Look for proof of great work

Don’t just stop at reviews – do further research, and see if the tradies you are considering have photos they can provide of their past work. We do this using True Local, as the listings allow tradies to upload images of past jobs. Photos allow you to see that the tradie you are thinking of hiring knows their stuff and takes pride in their work. It’s important to take the time to do this research, as the last thing you want to do is hire a tradie who doesn’t have experience doing the kind of job you need done .

What to look for in a tradie

Some of the biggest red flags that scream no deal to us are tardiness. If they say they will meet you onsite at 7:00am to quote and they arrive at 8:00am - that just doesn’t cut it. Time is money for everyone and keeping someone waiting is never a good impression. Another big no no for us is poor communication. If tradies take forever to return calls, don’t have a message bank and say they will get the quote to you Monday but you have to chase them for it and it’s Friday, they aren’t worth your time. They will be nothing but a headache to deal with on site.

Some of the key things we ask our tradies when getting quotes are:

  1. Their availability
  2. How long they think it will take for them to finish
  3. A price estimation
  4. Are there any extra costs ie: materials?
  5. What coffee they like! Seriously…if you look after them, they will look after you!

Assess which jobs you can do for yourself

Do you really need to hire a painter, or is it just because painting isn’t your favourite job? There’s lots of renovation tasks people can do themselves, with a little bit of patience, perseverance and a face mask. Picking up a paintbrush can save you anything between $10,000-$15,000 on a small, three bedroom house. Sure, it’s not the way you want to spend your weekend – but after all, you’re renovating and that is your life now! It also pays to ask your tradie what you can do to save money– are there some nails in the floor boards you can pull up before they come to do the sand and varnish? If you are just starting out in the renovating game and want to find out what jobs could be completed by you and what you could be saving, get onto True Local and get some quotes from experienced tradesman who can give you trusted advice. You may be surprised just how much money you could be saving.

Remember, renovating is a big task to take on, and whether you are pushing to get it done in a small amount of time, or you’re doing it over a number of years, there’s many ways you can save some dough here and there.


About Bec

Welcome to Bec Marks the Spot. This is where my team and I am able to share with you everything we love in interior design, industry trends, inspirational people, beauty and fashion trends and my personal journey as a mother.


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