Remodelling your home can be expensive and, unless you’re careful, even the best budgets can start spiralling out of control, and before you know it, you’ve spent twice as much as you wanted.
If you’re striving for high quality at the cheapest price, there are some top ways to save money.
In this article, we’ll be discussing 20 ways to keep costs low during your home improvement period, covering both the preparation and planning of the job, all the way through to the best finishes and materials to choose to get optimum wear while keeping your budget as lean as possible.
Let’s get into how you can reduce your renovation costs while keeping your aspirations high.
How Can I Save Money on Home Improvements?
The first section we’ll look at is the planning stage – which is arguably the most important, as it sets the foundation for the entire project.
1) Do Your Homework
Before taking on a large project or renovation—especially in a period property or a project that involves structural changes—be sure to hire a surveyor.
The surveyor can help you identify potential minefields like asbestos, damp, pests, and structural problems that you should address before planning any cosmetic changes.
2) Create a Budget, and Stick To It
It might not sound like it, but allowing for a slightly larger budget for a project can save you money. This way, you don’t have to cut corners which can sometimes be a false economy, especially if there are major problems, and you end up having to make expensive repairs.
Make sure you take into consideration the cost of all your materials, fittings and finishes, not forgetting any fees incurred with building regulations, skip hire or rubbish removal costs, as well as architect, surveyor or structural engineer fees.
And finally – make sure you check all the planning permission regulations if you’re doing any major work on your home, as further fees may be incurred here.
3) Devise a Schedule of Works
Sticking to a schedule will help you to save money throughout your project as you won’t be as likely to chop and change from your set timeline. Instead, you will complete what’s needed, when it’s needed.
Within this schedule of works, be sure to add assigned roles and any associated costs into the plan so you can see a clear breakdown of fees and exactly where they are coming from.
4) Compare Quotes!
One of the most important steps when planning your home improvements project is to shop around for quotes. This can be frustrating, making it tempting to find the first quote you come across and go for it.
HouseholdQuotes can help to cut down this arduous task by letting you compare quotes on one website instead of needing to jump between many tabs to try and keep track of the best deal. What’s more, it can also help you to save up to 40%.
5) Work With a Neighbour
If you and your neighbour are both planning a building project such as an extension or loft conversion, you may want to collaborate to save costs. Similarly, if you need to hire a skip, looking to share it between the two of you can cut costs for both parties.
We’ll now move on to the building segment of your home renovation and look at the specific ways you can save money during the build.
6) Consider an Architectural Technologist
If you need architectural drawings, an architectural technologist can provide drawings at an affordable price. They also have the added value of knowing the local authority’s planning laws, which can save you from having something built only then need it updated or torn down because it doesn’t fit regulations.
For more specific information on architects and their costs, take a look at our dedicated page.
7) Project Manage Yourself
If you have the time – and the inclination! – you can save a sizeable amount in fees if you choose to be your own project manager. However, you should be aware of how demanding this role can be, and how many decisions (big, small, and minuscule) you’ll need to make along the way.
8) Minimise Structural Changes
Where possible, minimising the structural changes you need to make will help to keep your renovation costs at bay.
While it might be appealing to knock through walls and make an open plan space, if your home already has a usable layout, try not to change it too much if you can still get the desired renovation effect without the hefty price tag that comes with structural changes.
9) Avoid Moving Plumbing
Similar to structural changes, if you can help it, try not to move existing plumbing in your home. Unless you have severely outdated plumbing or need pipes to be run at the front of your house instead of the back, you should try to keep your existing plumbing in its original layout.
10) Shop Around
Much like shopping around for project quotes, you should also shop around for the best deals on your renovation materials – you shouldn’t feel obligated to buy your entire bathroom suite from the same supplier.
If you leave shopping until the last moment, you’ll end up paying more. By doing your homework ahead of a project you can take advantage of seasonal sales and offers – what’s more, you can often circumnavigate delivery fees by having items delivered to the store instead of your home.
11) Consider Small Businesses and Sole Traders
High street shops have convenient advantages, but they also have large overheads – which bump up the price you end up paying. You can usually trim project fees by choosing smaller businesses and sole traders, who cut costs by not having a glossy marketing brochure or the most modern website but will do a good job.
If you’re up for a challenge, opting for a little DIY is a good cost-saving option.
The internet is a good place to find how-to help, with painting, as well as laying floors, grouting, and tiling being good DIY challenges. With contractor fees reaching £250 a day, you can save a lot of money this way.
However, there are some jobs where you need professionals – electricians and plumbers are required for most major remodels, as well as Gas Safe Engineers, in instances where you’ll need the work signed off. You should always look for a contractor who is registered with the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) to ensure they’re meeting safety standards.
13) Pay in Cash
There are lots of ways to pay for your home improvements—from credit cards to home improvement loans or second mortgages. One of the best ways to reduce renovation costs is to pay in cash, as there is no interest added.
Lastly, we’ll look at how to save money during the cosmetic finishing of your project.
14) Choose Classic Colours and Styles
No matter your style, you’ll want a result that’ll stand the test of time, and still attract buyers when you come to sell. You can still experiment with trends—but we suggest saving them for finishes that can easily be changed, like paint, lighting, and doorknobs.
15) Upgrade High Street Buys
If you’re renovating a kitchen, a great way to cut costs is to buy the base cabinetry from a street retailer, and then create a bespoke look by swapping out original fittings for luxury accessories from specialist suppliers.
16) Consider Secondhand or Ex-display
A growing number of specialist retailers now sell secondhand or ex-display products at a fraction of the cost. As long as they’ve not been damaged in-store, you’ll get the look you want for a lower cost by opting for something not in original packaging.
17) Look For Sales
It’s no secret that you can save money while shopping when offers are on, but you should also keep an eye out for clearance and end-of-line sales.
18) Search for Freebies
It’s possible to get some things for free – especially when you look on neighbourhood groups, Freecycle, Preloved and Gumtree, where people are just wanting to get rid of ‘stuff’ for little to no price.
19) Colour Match Paint
If you like a shade from a luxury paint company but don’t want to splurge, see if a more affordable supplier will colour match it.
20) Leave It Unfinished
Depending on your style, you can leave brick walls exposed and incorporate concrete floors into your home if you like the industrial look.
Where Should I Spend, and Where Should I Save?
In this section, we’ll look at the areas you should spend on, as well as areas safe to save on.
If you’re on a tight budget, cheap materials might seem like the perfect answer – but low cost is often paired with substandard quality, meaning you’re more likely to run into problems.
Your first task should be to talk to contractors about which materials to use and seek advice from friends who may have recently finished similar projects. Structural work should always involve high-quality products, making durable screws, nails and fittings wise investments.
There’s no good way to cut corners on insulation – getting the right insulation for your home can cut down your energy bills and improve your home’s efficiency. This is a fundamental renovation component, and getting it wrong can impact your whole house.
Windows can last decades if you invest in quality pieces. Having something quickly installed for what seems like a good price can end up costing you in the long run if you encounter leaks, draughts or security risks from poorly fitted windows.
Buy high-quality kitchen units that can stand up to daily use – think about how many times a cupboard’s hinges are used in a single day! Investing in hard-wearing materials will save you from having to have them altered further down the line when things start peeling back or damaged.
Taps are an essential piece of kit in any kitchen or bathroom, and their quality needs to withstand daily use. Cheaper options may rust up quickly, requiring a re-fit far sooner than is necessary.
You stand on it all day long – in the same way you should invest in shoes, your flooring should be another surefire investment piece. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives that may be suitable for some spaces, but for high-traffic areas like hallways, and areas where moisture is present like kitchens and bathrooms, you need to invest in flooring that will stand the test of time – literally.
It’s a well-known fact that when renovating, you should add more storage than you think you could need – because you undoubtedly do end up using it!
Further to spaces like wardrobes and pantries, take some time to discuss with your architect what else is possible. You’ll be surprised with the genius ways more storage can be incorporated into your existing designs, such as beneath the stairs and filling out awkward corners.
Now that we’ve covered the areas you should spend on, you’ll be glad to know there are still ways to save money.
Chipboard worktops are available with a range of patterned vinyl finishes which can give you the look of a marble worktop at a fraction of the price. You won’t necessarily get the durability of real stone, but as long as you treat it with care, you can still get a good lifespan out of these cheaper options.
Lighting fittings always go into the sale. The rule of thumb is to get what you want, but at the most optimum time – if that means making do with a bare light bulb for a little while longer while you wait for a sale period, so be it.
You can get sheets of wall tiles meaning there’s no need for fiddly grouting. This isn’t the most quality option, but it can be a good shortcut if you just want something to cover a bare wall quickly.
If you’re choosing integrated appliances, save money by avoiding branded items.
How Do I Find and Hire a Builder, a Tradesperson, or Another Professional?
The best way to glean contacts for your home renovation project is to seek out recommendations from friends, family and neighbours who have recently had work done.
Alternatively, using HouseholdQuotes is a great solution to find reputable traders without the hassle that comes from comparing quotes – what’s more, it can help to save you up to 40%!
Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
As with all home renovation projects, getting a written quote with a breakdown of fees is essential. Similarly, seeking out your trader’s qualifications, accreditations or professional memberships is a good way to verify their status.
You’ll want to see their experience, along with any photos or videos to see the work they’ve done in the past – and where possible, finding customer reviews can be a great way to corroborate facts.
Finally, your trader should carry insurance, but it’s always best to double-check before work begins.
Now you feel clued up on saving while spending on your home renovation, here are our key points to take away:
- Save on finishing touches by buying second hand
- Complete painting, grouting, tiling and any other task you feel is within your remit to trim costs
- If you’re feeling brave, project manage yourself to cut another cost
- Make sure you spend on insulation, windows and flooring
- Always check planning permission and local regulations before work begins to mitigate any costly mistakes!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Should I Save for Home Improvements?
A good rule of thumb for figuring out the amount of money you may need is to calculate how much time and money you anticipate the project taking, and then double it. Not every renovation or project is likely to end up needing the amount you’ll have put away, but you do need to have some extra budget in case of any mistakes or additional work.
How Much Does It Cost To Renovate a House?
The exact fee depends on what you’re having done – while single-storey extensions can cost between £40,000 to £67,000, garage conversions can come in between £4,999 to £7,500.
For a full breakdown of renovation estimates, take a look at our dedicated page.
What Comes First in a Home Renovation?
This depends on your house’s condition – if your bathroom is in disrepair and unusable, you’ll need to get that taken care of quickly, else find somewhere else to live while other renovations are taking place.
How Do I Redesign the Layout of My House?
The best answer comes from having an architect in the space to see what can be done with the existing layout, as in some cases, it’s not necessary to redesign the layout.
How Can I Finance Home Improvements?
You can pay in cash, take out loans, second mortgages, or use credit cards. All routes come with risks – take a look at our dedicated page on financing home renovations for more information.
Is It Cheaper To Renovate or Build New?
It’s generally cheaper to renovate an existing property, but if you’re looking to update old plumbing, wiring and heating systems your costs can rise exponentially.
What DIY Skills Can I Learn To Keep Renovation Costs Down?
Simple painting, tiling and floor-laying skills will help keep your renovation costs down.
Are There Any Government Funding or Grants for Home Improvements?
There are funding grants available per county, each with different criteria. For the full list, see our dedicated page.