House renovation costs: How much does it cost to renovate a house?



I get a lot of emails from fellow UK home renovators and people about to complete on a property trying to work out house renovation costs asking “How much does it cost to renovate a house?”. Believe it or not, some people about to buy fixer uppers don’t itemise the costs at all, and we think it’s a sure fire way to leave yourself out of pocket.

Two in 5 renovators overshot their budget by an average of 20%.
— Hiscox

A little bit of careful budgeting goes a long way and it’s really paid off for us, as we completed our renovation under budget. It’s all thanks to careful planning…

house renovation costs - 1930s house

“How much does is cost to renovate a house?” is one of the most frequently asked questions Neil and I get, so in today's post I want to address how to plan your house renovation budgets before you get the keys, what I think would be a healthy budget for a house refurbishment on an average UK property, plus ways to help you work out what is a realistic cost for the house you’re about to work on...

House renovation costs for an average UK semi-detached

A little bit about our renovation

We own and have just renovated an average sized 3 bed 1930s semi detached in Brighton, UK. See the step-by-step work we've done over on our House Renovation page. The property needed everything doing to it, shag pile carpet, wallpaper on every single wall, the lot! Before shots are all here.

Before we got an offer accepted on the house we started researching house renovation costs to see if we could actually afford to renovate this place.

Having no friends or family in the building / trades industry we didn't have anyone we could rely on to give us accurate quotes for work - nor did we really fully know what we wanted to do to the house before we moved in (it's always better to live inside the house before deciding anyway).

Neither of us were DIY savvy either (and still aren't!) so we knew we'd have to pay for labour costs but had no idea what these would be.

All we had to try and work out how much money we needed was Google and Neil's budgeting skills to make safe estimates of each probable work we'd like to do, plus contingency, then tracked it all item by item in our House Renovation Budget Planner.

So with that, we did a great deal of ‘safe bet’ calculations which gave us confidence it could be done and we were on an OK track financially.

Honestly, gathering informed estimates for your renovation is the single best way to start your project - before you even get the keys. If you’re interested in learning how to do this, check out our online course - How to Renovate a House. It’s the first module we cover in there - helping you get your budgets right!

house renovation costs - 1930s house

How much should you budget for your House Renovation?

Every house is different, everyone’s taste and needs are different and labour costs are different across the country. So if you’re trying to work out costs for a house renovation, it’s difficult to come to a single figure for all these reasons and more.

Having now renovated our 1930s 3 bed semi detached property which needed some elements of structural work flagged in the survey, as well as everything aesthetically doing to it, I would probably say anything between 50K - 150K is entirely possible for a semi detached house depending on the scale of the work (see how much we paid below). Really though, the sky is the limit when it comes to costing up a reno. We’ve seen friends renovate their houses for much less, and much more!

In terms of the work we did, we initially wanted to do an extension on the back of our house which rocketed the costs to the triple figures (100K+), so in the end we settled with a remodel of the inside which brought the cost down a lot.

We also spent a fair amount on structural problems flagged in the structural survey which may not be something you experience with a property you are renovating, but definitely should be factored into your budgets just in case unforeseen issues unveil themselves.

How much did our house refurbishment cost?

We’ve itemised all of our house renovation costs in our Home Renovation Budget Planner example spreadsheet which is also featured in our How to Renovate a House online course. In there you’ll see what our original budgets were, what our overall actual costs were, as well as get a video tutorial to use to work out your budgets. Remember we’re based in the South of England which sees higher costs for labour.

Our costs shouldn’t be used as a set-in-stone figure for your house as there are so many variables, however I hope this and the budget calculator itself gives you a hand in working out safe-bet budgets for your house renovation.

Trying to budget for a renovation?

We've itemised our whole renovation costs (well over 150 items) in our Home Renovation Budget Planner or get help with your whole renovation project and join our online course ››