How to blitz your budget

Where the smart renovating dollars are spent

When renovation dreams become all the more visceral, it’s time to get some hard and fast figures on the table. Like it or not, our precious homes are also nest eggs for the future so it pays to be smart with the money we sink into them.

By far the biggest factor to take into account is the scale of works – is it going to be a structural or cosmetic renovation? A structural extension – whether going up or out – will cost hundreds of thousands but will make a huge improvement to living space. A cosmetic makeover will usually cost tens of thousands and can make a big change to the feel of a reasonable set of architectural bones.

If you’re looking at a fast flip, the value added by a smart structural renovation will typically cover costs while every dollar spent on a non-structural re-do will double in added value.


Let’s break it down property mogul style…


$5000 Focus on repainting, opening up doorways or a fabulous exterior facelift

$15,000 Tackle kitchen cabinets, add an outdoor deck, redo a small bathroom or invest in new floors

$50,000 Convert an attic or garage into a bedroom, add an ensuite or fit out a glam new kitchen 

$100,000 Add a new room, create an outdoor living area, extend a room and refurbish a kitchen or bathroom

$300,000 Go up or out, creating an open-plan kitchen and living space or a parents’ retreat

Curbside love (Credit: SIMON WHITBREAD)

ADD VALUE: If renovating to sell or add long-term value, start by improving your home’s kerb appeal. Think fresh paint, a polished fence and a landscaped garden with established plants. Even a good high-pressure wash can help your home make a better first impression. Then invest in the two busiest rooms in the house: the kitchen and bathroom, going for quality appliances and tapware. 


DON’T OVER-CAPITALISE: Spend the time researching your project – it costs nothing but it’s the smartest investment you will make. Look at homes in your area that are comparable to what you have now and what you hope to achieve. Studying auction results will help you to put a value on renovations. Also think about your home’s future owners. If your area is a beacon for busy, double-income families, a pool or a high-maintenance garden might put off more buyers than it attracts. 

WHERE TO SPEND: Good storage makes houses work so look to utilise every square metre. Plan for linen cupboards near the bathroom, a walk-in robe a drop-off point for bags and coats near the entrance – it works out cheaper if incorporated into the layout from the start. Next up: think about enhancing natural light and with upsized windows and creating flow from inside spaces to outdoor areas with bifold windows and a deck. It’s all about making the space you have feel more fabulous.


PLAN FOR BLOWOUTS: A golden rule when renovating is to set aside at least 10 per cent of the project cost as a contingency fund. Planning permits, variations and building delays can also drive costs up, as well as rental accommodation and storage if you need to move out during the renovation.

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