7 ways to reduce your house renovation costs

Fifi McGee House Renovation Costs

After 2 years renovating our semi detached, we've learned a lot along the way to keep control of renovation costs. If you're in any way familiar with renovating, you'll understand how quickly costs can spiral, but with some careful planning, you should be able to renovate your house on time and on budget.

In this post I'm sharing ways Neil and I reduced and controlled our renovation costs. Hope it helps you!

Disclaimer this post contains affiliate links (all opinions are honest)

7 ways to reduce the cost of your house renovation

1. Track every single penny coming out of your account

When you're renovating, it's easy to nip down to B&Q for paint brushes and end up coming home with a sander and 50 pound later, you’re going off the rails on your budget. Small purchases might feel unimportant at the time and in comparison to bigger costs involved with a renovation, but they add up and could be the difference of you going over budget if not tracked carefully. So our first tip is make a record of every penny you are spending, and better still, have a remaining balance figure update you, so you can keep an even more careful eye on costs.

When we renovated our house, we used our Home Renovation Budget Planner (which has all of our renovation costs as an example) to take care of costs. Easy to quickly fill it in, easy to see how much we forecast for a specific area, and even easier to see whether we came over or under budget (it literally goes red or green depending on how you’ve spent).

2. Get several designs drawn up and get the cost for each one


When Neil and I first moved in to our house, we thought we wanted to extend out the back of the building and create one large open kitchen diner space. We had 1 architectural plan drawn up for it and got a quote from our contractor to carry out the work. The cost that came in was circa 80K, which we could have gone ahead with, until we had a more modest build idea, remodelling the current space while still retaining everything we needed from our original brief. We got a few more drawings made for the smaller idea and costs came back much more affordable. Moral of the story is, pay for 3 design options varying big and small, and crucially, get costs alongside your ideas. With information you can make much more accurate, informed decisions - and like us, you may be able to achieve a lower cost build but still end up with a space ideal for your needs.


renovation costs example and budget planner

Budgeting for a renovation?

We've itemised our renovation costs (well over 150 items) in our Home Renovation Budget Planner


house renovation costs - 1930s house


3. DIY the things you can, pay for the things you can't

Neil and I aren't great at DIY but it is a sure way to make a staggering saving on your house renovation. If you or your partner are handy, or even curious to try DIY, you'll make a big saving on labour costs. If like me and Neil you're not so handy but enjoy painting and decorating, even that can save a lot of money on your total renovation costs. Do whatever you can to bring your own skills to the work you’re doing, even if it means the progress is slower.


4. Shop around on Gumtree / Ebay / Car boot sales


Aside from the money you will save shopping for house renovation bits on places like Gumtree, Ebay and in car boot sales, there's heaps of recycling benefits reusing pre-loved materials, and a lot of it will have more character than buying new. We bought things like our fireplace mantle, our storage chest, framed wall art, kitchen knobs and second hand antique chairs from sites like these which saved us lots of money. Other things to look out for are leftover tiles if you're tiling a small area, taps,/brassware, unwanted tins of paint, Belfast sinks etc. It feels such a sense of achievement when you find something you need on sites like these. Saving money and saving the planet!


5. Consider 'mending' or 'fixing up' rather than replacing

It's likely that your property has a lot of charm of its own.... Picking up carpets may expose a wooden floor or parquet flooring in need of a sand which is cheaper to do than laying new flooring. Or perhaps like us your window frame is fine and just the glass needs replacing - it’s also amazing what this PVC cleaner can do, we used it with great success. Then there's interior doors, can they benefit from a sand or repaint rather than a complete refit? There are lots of ways you will be able to retain the character of your home and make updates without breaking the bank, plus you’ll be sending less to landfill which is a huge benefit on the planet.

6. Borrow or rent large power tools

Take it from us, we bought a couple of things that we used maybe once or twice and are now just gathering dust in our garage. Certain items such as certain types of sanders will be far cheaper to hire. Another thing you can do is wait until your build phase and ask them nicely if you can borrow their equipment, it would therefore be free to use and brought to your property for free!

7. My final tip for keeping your house renovation cost under control is to plan your project carefully

Make sure to assign plenty of time to think about the order by which things happen in your project, the last thing you want is to have to rip up newly plastered walls (we did this once and it cost us!) . Also by listing carefully all of the items you need to buy you will avoid hidden costs. All of this information plus downloadable tools to help you are available in the Budgeting and Planning modules of our step-by-step, self-paced online course How to Renovate a House.

I hope our experience will help you bring your house renovation on budget.

Remember our Home Renovation Budget Planner is the perfect tool for budgeting and controlling your costs, and if you'd like to see a breakdown of our renovation costs, it's all available in there.

Thanks for reading!
Fifi and Neil