How To Afford Your Dream Home Renovation On A Budget

A beautiful, welcoming, well-designed home is something most of us dream of. A place to retreat from the world, host our friends and raise our families. But is a the home of our dreams really out of the question financially? With so many other goals, such as saving for retirement, paying off loans and credit card debt, and financing cars and education, it can seem to be. But renovating your house into a dream home can be done without an astronomical budget.

With some foresight and careful planning, it is possible to do this - and the good news is that most of the money you spend on your home can be seen as a good investment. There are renovations that will drive up the value of your most important asset, and there are other touches that make it more saleable - which in turn, can encourage more offers from buyers if you ever sell and therefore also drive up the final price. So it makes sense to improve where you live - both for the needs of you and your family currently, but also for achieving the maximum return on your investment further down the line. Here’s how to invest sensibly, stick to a budget, and get the home of your dream without going broke.

Be Strict On Budgets

The glossy interiors magazines, home makeover TV shows and Pinterest boards we look at for home renovation inspiration can easily lead to us getting carried away with expensive finishes and ‘must-have’ gadgets. So it's crucial to start with a realistic financial plan, and use this as the basis for guiding all the many decisions you’ll have to make on a typical home renovation project.

First, work out exactly what you have to spend, and where the financing is coming from - do you have savings? Are you counting on a secured loan? Next, set a list of improvements you would like to make and divide it into ‘must haves’ (e.g “new kitchen cabinets and appliances”) and ‘nice to haves’ (“bi-fold doors into garden). Think through the contractors you will need to hire at each stage, or parts of the project you may be able to tackle yourself to save on labour costs, such as painting the walls. Cost out each aspect of the work and supplies, listed against the value of your home currently, and what it will realistically be worth after the work to check that what you want to do is worth it. Remember that all properties have a ‘ceiling value’ - the maximum sale price they are likely to achieve, regardless of what you do to them - and do not exceed this amount.

If you need help in paying for the project, it's worth consulting an independent financial advisor. You’ll need to know in advance the requirements and rates of any loan financing needed. Sort this all out before you begin work - you don’t want to be stuck with the nightmare scenario of getting halfway through the work, needing more money, and getting turned down. Make sure everything is in place beforehand and keep a running tally of costs each week as the project gets underway.

Know Where To Save On Finishes

Finishes can change the cost of a project enormously, so it's important to know where to spend money, and where to swap to a cheaper alternative. Bear in mind that you want to invest in hardwearing, quality materials that stand the test of time, so don’t fall into the trap of making false economies either. There are ways of saving money. If you’ve fallen for expensive patterned tiling in a hallway, kitchen or bathroom, compromise by having a smaller area of those tiles, like a feature, surrounded by a larger area of plainer, more cost effective tiles. Dreaming of a polished concrete design? Investigate differences between methods and suppliers, such as CARRcrete InfinityFloor that could save you money and still get you that designer finish.

Also think about areas you could compromise on. Kitchen appliances dated but cabinets not so bad? Spend the money on upgrading the oven, fridge, dishwasher etc but simply repaint the cabinetry and swap out the handles to cut down on costs. Instead of completely retiling, look for adhesive tile covers that can give you a statement splashback area for your kitchen or bathroom without needing a professional job and expensive new tiles.

Small Details Count

When we think of home renovation projects, often we think big. But in terms of what can make a major impact, you can often achieve a lot simply by repainting and then focusing on the smaller details, which tend to be more affordable in the grand scheme of things. Think about lighting, for example. A well-designed lighting scheme featuring some statement pieces immediately makes a space look polished and expensive - but new light fixtures are a relatively minor expense. Focus on what will achieve bang for your limited buck.

Good lighting sets a mood, helps to visually define a space and a style, and highlights any features that you need to make more of in the house. And using lighting correctly can make a space look bigger than it really is. Couple statement pendant lights over sitting areas in the living and dining rooms with recessed LED downlights in the kitchen and hallway - these are cost-effective to run and add a wonderful sense of drama and focus to the area.

To create a modern, streamlined look and conceal cheaper appliance choices in a kitchen, why not recess them? For example, a cheaper stainless steel sink looks far more stylish and expensive when you undermount it into the worktop. And cabinet doors can conceal other appliances if you can’t afford the finishes you’d ideally like.

Conversely, on more visible surfaces, such as worktops, you may want to spend a little more to achieve a luxurious finish. Honed granite has a low sheen, is very chic and highly durable. To keep your top relatively lightweight, ask for a 20mm thickness but ask for a deeper edging of 70mm - this cheats the appearance of thick, luxurious work surfaces while saving on unneccessary cost. The same goes for the cabinetry - buy carcasses cheaply from a supply such as Ikea, then pay more for beautiful custom hardwood doors and drawer fronts.

With some careful planning and some clever tricks, home renovation doesn’t have to cost the earth!

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