So you want to bring the build costs in budget…

Escalating build costs? Here's why it happens and how to stem the haemorrhage...

Escalating build costs? Here’s why it happens and how to stem the haemorrhage…

If you’re embarking on the task of renovating a property, all I can say to you is planning, planning, planning. It’s essential to ensure your vision aligns with your budget. Time and time again I’ve seen how homeowners are surprised, frustrated and disappointed that the budget they set, is swallowed up before the walls are even in place, leaving no funds available to furnish the property as they’d dreamed, having to compromise on finish, because the build costs escalated out of their control.

I used to joke that if you hadn’t renovated before, you should be prepared to spend double the budget and double the timescale to achieve your dream home. But these things can be avoided – Here are 10 straightforward yet specific tips to guide you in keeping your high-spec renovation project within budget:

  1. Detailed Scope of Work: Start by outlining every detail of your renovation project. Work with a designer and design the end result before the first spade is in the ground. Specify the materials, fixtures, and finishes you desire, leaving no room for ambiguity. Clarity in your scope of work sets the stage for accurate budgeting and enables the contractor to provide accurate costings, so there are no nasty surprises down the road.
  2. Thorough Cost Estimation: Invest time in researching and obtaining detailed quotes from contractors and suppliers. Get multiple estimates for each aspect of the project to ensure you’re getting competitive pricing without sacrificing quality. Ask them if they operate an ‘open book’ policy on materials costs and negotiate the terms of the contract.
  3. Prioritise Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-Haves: Identify non-negotiable elements of your renovation versus items that are desirable but not essential. Allocate a larger portion of your budget to must-have features while being willing to compromise or source alternative nice-to-have items to stay within budget.
  4. Flexibility in Design: Maintain flexibility in your design choices to accommodate potential cost-saving opportunities. Be open to alternative materials or design solutions that achieve the desired aesthetic without breaking the bank. Don’t confuse this with buying cheaper – more often than not you get what you pay for and spending less is a false economy down the road. But design changes can be made to reduce costs, such as paint finishes, materials spec, fabric choices and unbranded items over well known brands.
  5. Strategic Timing of Renovation Phases: Plan your renovation in phases to manage cash flow effectively. Prioritise critical structural work and essential upgrades first, but ensure you’re going into the build with a ‘master plan’ of what the end result is you want. If your electricians have costed up for a few down lights and sockets, but what you really want is an air conditioning system, ceiling speakers, floor sockets, car chargers, automated window blinds and boiling water taps (all which need an electrical feed) then this will greatly influence the costs and time on site for your electrical engineers.
  6. Engage with Experienced Professionals: Surround yourself with a team of experienced professionals, including architects, designers, and contractors, who specialise in high-end renovations. Their expertise can help navigate potential budget pitfalls and find creative solutions to stay on track. They’ll ask you questions that you perhaps hadn’t thought about – like do you require any additional security features? If the property is empty some of the time do you need automated lighting controls? Should we install a safe? Do you require automatic watch winders in the dressing room? Luxury living is practical first.
  7. Regular Budget Reviews: Schedule regular meetings with your project team to review the budget and track expenses against the initial estimates. Address any deviations promptly and adjust the plan as needed to prevent budget overruns. Changing your mind on things is fine, as long as you’re prepared that it will incur additional costs.
  8. Value Engineering: Embrace value engineering principles to optimise costs without compromising quality. Bigger is not necessarily better and more space does not always achieve the desired end result. Review your design brief and what you’d like the end result to be, aesthetically and functionally. Look for opportunities to achieve the same level of functionality and aesthetics through more cost-effective solutions or alternative materials.
  9. Negotiate with Suppliers and Contractors: Flex your negotiation skills when engaging with suppliers and contractors. Seek discounts for bulk purchases, explore alternative suppliers, and negotiate labour rates to maximise cost savings. If contractors have to keep moving on and off site because the build programme is haphazard, this will incur additional and unnecessary charges. Doing work in phases might seem like a good idea for cash flow purposes, but it often costs twice as much.
  10. Contingency Reserve: Finally, allocate a contingency reserve within your budget to account for unforeseen expenses or changes during the renovation process. Aim for a reserve of at least 10% of the total project cost to provide a safety net against unexpected costs. If your contractors uncover dry rot, damp, poor wiring, dangerous structural elements or woodworm, these will have to be addressed before the project can progress and they will likely be things you hadn’t budgeted for, as well as the additional labour/time required to put them right.

By implementing these 10 specific tips and having the patience to get a detailed plan in place, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the complexities of renovating your high-spec property while keeping your budget in check.

If the idea of tackling a full-scale renovation elevates your heart rate, we’re here to help. Transforming your home should be an enjoyable process – you’ve worked hard to achieve the home of your dreams, the road to making this a reality doesn’t have to be a painful one.

You can find Studio JQ on socials @thestudiojq for project updates and top tips, as well as download a wealth of free resources from our website

Contact the design team today to arrange your free 15 minute consultation.

HOME. It matters how you live in it.

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