When you think of about your renovation plans, does your wallet suddenly go missing? The words ‘budget’ and ‘renovation’ go as well together as ‘New South Wales’ and ‘State of Origin Series Winners’. But it is important while still in the planning stages of your renovation, a clear budget is determined as well as a comfortable contingency. Let’s face it, Scotty Cam isn’t going to show up with a challenge this week where you’ll pick up a couple of thousand dollars for room reveal.

With that in mind, you don’t want to hold the purse strings too tight otherwise your renovation may never come to fruition, or you’ll sacrifice overall quality and design to meet an inflexible budget. It’s all about balance… if you splurge on expensive tapware, you need to save on the tiles and so on. Now we are not talking about your home furnishings like you sofa’s, cushions or dining setting, these are all things you can take with you. Let’s take a look at the bones of the home and go through where you should sink your hard-earned dollars or where you should save.

Beautiful Hamptons style kitchen in Holland Park, Qld.

A Kitchen Renovation

If there were 2 rooms in a home you probably shouldn’t scrimp on, the kitchen is certainly one of them. But that’s not to say everything has to be bespoke. Some kitchen renovation costs can run into the hundreds of thousands so it’s important to know when to stop. Over capitalising can be a real concern and it is recommended that you spend no more than 5% of your projected house value on a kitchen renovation. But a well-executed kitchen renovation could add up to 10% to your home’s value.

Prioritise what is important to you. If you’re a foodie or master chef, spend your money on a top end range and save your money on the tiled splash back. Simple white subway tiles are bang on trend and are one of the cheapest tiled options available.

Rather than splurging on Calcutta marble bench tops (which require ongoing care), go for manmade alternatives such as Caesarstone or essastone, there are even great acrylic options on the market that will give your kitchen a modern and futuristic feel.

Alternatively, purchasing low to mid-range fridges, scratch & dent ovens and cooktops can free up funds for more wow-factor features such as the countertop splurge or farmhouse sink.

Custom cabinetry can get real expensive, real fast. When it comes to custom-built options, don’t underestimate the cost of those little extra inclusions such as soft-close drawers, built in fridges and dishwasher, and pull-out pantries. If it won’t make a real difference to you, save your money.

bathroom, renovation
Kingi & Caro’s Guest Ensuite: The Block Season 11

A Bathroom Renovation

The bathroom is the other room (or rooms) in the house you shouldn’t scrimp on. But there’s still plenty of ways to stretch your money a bit further. A bathroom, no matter the budget still needs all the basic features: a shower, bath, vanity and so on which means it all comes down to choosing the less expensive versions.

Choose a hero of your room, a fantastic vanity, or a freestanding tub. Once you’ve got your hero be smart with your money through the rest of the room. If your budget doesn’t stretch, consider saving money on the fittings such as the sink, shower mixer or towel racks. These are items which are easy to upgrade down the track if you’re after a bit of a minor upgrade. Just don’t go digging in the budget bin, as the quality can vary greatly.

Simple lighting is an easy cost saver in the bathroom. The addition of candles can give the mood lighting you might need when soaking in the tub and cost a fraction of the price of a you-beaut lighting scheme.

Although floor-to-ceiling tiles are great for that wow factor, it’s usually unnecessary for the function of the space. Consider a tiled skirting around the room, tiling only to the ceiling in the wet areas of the shower and behind the sinks. Alternatively, opt for cheap wall tiles throughout splashing for a feature tiled wall tile in the shower recess which will create a luxurious hotel-like feel for less.

Suzi & Vonni's Bedroom: The Block Season 11
Suzi & Vonni’s Bedroom: The Block Season 11

A Bedroom Renovation

If your home has a walk-in wardrobe, basic open shelving can save you money, and it keeps everything at your fingertips. There’s no need for fancy mod-cons like draws, tie and shoe racks. Doors and hinges quickly push the price of any wardrobe up.

Carpet is always a great investment for a bedroom, however, you can get a similar result with a rug and you can take that with you if you sell up.

Dean & Shay's Living Room: The Block Season 11
Dean & Shay’s Living Room: The Block Season 11

A Living and Dining Renovation

Along with the kitchen, this will be the heart of the home, where you begin every morning and finish every evening. Consider the space carefully and think about how and who will use it. Do you need a study nook, toy cupboard or book shelves? Bespoke cabinetry, although initially costly, will save you cash in the long run. Built-in cabinetry can maximise the space and eliminate the need to spend big money on bulky storage furniture when decorating. This type of furniture is usually purchased specifically for the space, making it difficult to transfer to a new home if you move on.

If you can’t afford the fancy feature items like wall hung televisions or striking pendant lights, ask your electrician to ‘rough in’ an extra cable or two to facilitate quick and easy installation when your coffers are replenished.

Your Contingency Fund

In large renovation projects, a contingency fund is imperative! Expect to pay between 10-25% more than what you initially anticipate, from the builders fees to decorating costs. If you don’t allow for it from the start, you can feel constricted throughout the project and may regret decisions made based solely on the budget. Things always come up, problems occur that just can’t be foreseen and design always changes midway. A contingency helps you deal with it and still sleep at night.