24 May 2023

How to renovate a house on a budget

By Brooke Crisp Manager

With the cost of living making its mark on almost everyone, in tandem with a fairly static property market, more and more people are looking at renovating their property – and undertaking these renovations within a budget. There’s also the issue of a more limited supply chain, so waiting for specialist materials is taking longer than ever. Carrying out home changes while being mindful of the expense doesn’t mean cutting down on quality, and making decisions within monetary limitations can actually work to help you expand your imagination and scope, rather than limit it. In this article we share some of our best home hacks for renovating a house without busting the bank.

1. Do your sums. Then do them again

Are we teaching grandma to suck eggs? Possibly. But having a clear idea of what you really need to do versus what you’d like to change – as well as what you can afford and where that money is going to be spent – means that you’re not in danger of exceeding your renovation budget, and can plan with impunity. If you’re doing the work yourself, have you got the skills, tools, and time to get the job done? Have you ensured those major “background” elements are all sound? There’s no point painting over the cracks if your plumbing is about to give up on you, and your electrics were installed before colour television was a thing. If you’re working with a contractor, builder, or decorator, have they given you a realistic breakdown of costs (including VAT)? And will you need specific house renovation insurance? Got your answers? Great, time to make a house change!

2. First impressions count

Before you go all in for that open-plan kitchen or loft conversion, why not start with the smaller stuff that visitors see, even before they’ve got into your front room. Painting or replacing a front door can be a bold statement, or even a chic understatement. The paint colour can cost as little as £20-£30, which is your total outgoing if you do it yourself. Get it right, and you’re already scoring maximum “kerb appeal” points. And if that door needs replacing (costing from £300-£1000), investigate the most secure type you can afford. After all, the stronger the lock, the more it can help bring down your home insurance cost.

3. The devil’s in the detail

Now we’re inside, what’s the most critical thing that needs renovating? Is it pulling up threadbare carpet, replacing or removing the stair runner, or ensuring you’re maximising storage space in the hallway with a coat cupboard or console table? How about an eye-catching new light fitting that really does light up your downstairs hallway? And by using LED bulbs rather than halogen, the initial outlay may seem steep, but they last and are more sustainable in the long run. These are all “little wins” in the renovation game. Throw in a new coat of paint to those walls (pale colours create a sense of space while richer, darker shades can add to atmosphere and warmth) you’re already on your way to a transformed and fresh living space.

4. Let it stay, not take away

House renovation often creates an image of stripping away original features. We say “think first”, as with some loving care, previously overlooked cornices can create masses of character, and an improved fireplace can add the focal feelgood factor to the coldest of rooms. With so many older houses having had their fireplaces ripped out during the decades when such things were less cool, if you have one (or more), make it a feature and you’ll be toasting marshmallows in no time. Adding mosaic tiles, marble surrounds, or installing a new grate is much less of an expense than installing from scratch.

But let’s get back to those cornices – these corner features are often lost under multiple layers of plaster and paint. If you strip them back yourself, make sure you’ve accounted for goggles and time. Lots and lots of time… but if you can budget for it, a professional restoration comes in at less than a grand. Then you can get your Bridgerton vibe fully on, dancing a waltz with stylish cornices and a fireplace as your timeless backdrop.

5. Worktops, splashbacks, and shelving

While there’s no denying the sheer joy of that open-plan kitchen with all those hidden, noiseless drawers, doors, and gadgets, that’s the type of renovation that can get out of hand very quickly when updating on a budget. One of the things that can be stylishly changed up are the worktops. Many laminate designs look full-on designer, while made-up marble is very of-the-moment. And rather than retiling the whole kitchen, why not narrow down the dream just a little with a new splashback? This is another opportunity to imprint some individual style and flair, substituting your designer favourite with a lower-cost doppelganger.

If lack of kitchen space is the issue, then you don’t necessarily need an extension to provide more of a place to store your condiments and crockery. There’s often some unused bit of wall where a shelf or two can be added. And that shelf can have almost life-changing renovation properties.

Coming soon to a blog near you…

While these are some simple ways to cut costing corners when undertaking some simple yet significant house renovations, in forthcoming blogs, we’ll look at the bringing in those bigger jobs to under a budget, including attic rooms, garden rooms, and conservatories.

Meanwhile, if you’re considering some serious house renovation and would like to talk to Renovation Plan about how best to insure any changes to you property call us today on 01621 784840, or request a quote here.

Man and women working on sofa with renovation plans