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10 tips to maximise your renovation budget

A home renovation can be an exciting way of settling into your new house. If you don't plan carefully though, it can also be expensive. So before you take out the hammer and paint brush, take a minute to read these 10 tips to maximise your home renovation budget.

1. Start your planning now

You don't want to rush your dream home - take your time. The more you can shop around and compare the prices of raw materials and consultants, the more money you'll save. Hit up the sales, reuse or recycle where possible, and do your research.

Go through your cupboards and keep a checklist of what you have and what you use. This will determine the amount of storage or organisational space you'll need, especially in the kitchen.

Tip: Add a kitchen island, some funky stools and chic pendant lighting for extra entertaining space.

2. Get your priorities straight

Your priorities in your new home will be highly personal, so write them down to keep your renovation goals in mind. When making this dream book, instead of chasing passing trends, try to focus on your lifestyle. Consider your needs and those of your family: you may love minimalist décor, but if your spouse collects books and there's a baby on the way, you might have to try a new look.Perhaps one priority is to live abroad. Did you know there are more benefits to investing in property overseas than just living the dream?

Of course, you need to keep cost versus value in mind. If you're renovating to sell, there's no point in spending more on your kitchen if it won't increase your selling price. However, a good kitchen remodel can yield about a 70% return on investment1, and doing up the bathrooms will update any tired-looking house.

Tip: You don't need to spend a lot on exotic wallpaper or fancy craftstone. Opt for a uniquely painted graphic wall that looks gorgeous – all while staying within budget.

3. Calculate your home reno budget, then add 15%

Ask anyone who's renovated their home: unforeseen costs will almost certainly come up. These could include dismantling existing built-in furniture, maintenance works for wear and tear, and incompatible components (e.g. tearing out and installing new air-con piping).

Remember to take these hidden costs into consideration when budgeting for these renovations. Set aside an allowance to handle these "surprises". And if there are no surprises, you'll have spare cash for furnishings and appliances.

Tip: Talk to someone who's done a similar reno. You could learn from their mistakes!

4. Download design apps

You don't need to be digitally savvy to design your dream home. Download an app on your smartphone to make your project easier and more fun. It helps save time and money, especially if your budget doesn't allow for an interior decorator. Keep all your plans, dimensions and ideas in one place, and monitor your spending, too.

Avoid potentially costly mistakes with in-app Bluetooth laser measuring. Get a realistic vision of your dream home with augmented reality. Not in love with that wallpaper? Swipe left and start again.

Tip: Share your design ideas through the apps on social media for instant feedback.

5. Protect the areas that aren't being renovated

If you're just redoing your bathrooms and kitchens, seal up those areas as "mudrooms". A few strategically placed plastic sheets will keep the dust and debris contained, saving you time and money when it comes time to cleaning up after.

Ask your workmen to wear disposable shoe coverings, protect your flooring, carpets and counters with plastic sheets or laminated kraft paper, and apply a "liquid mask" to basins and tubs. This can be easily peeled off after you've finished tiling or painting.

Tip: If you're renovating your flooring, do it last!

6. Go for vinyl flooring

The right flooring material and finish can define your home's overall look. But with so many choices to choose from, what's the most cost-effective?

Luxury vinyl plank flooring has the look of real wood flooring and the durability to resist scratches and scuffs. It's hardy and waterproof - perfect for wet areas and humidity – and can be made to resemble different materials, such as granite, stone, wood or ceramic. Vinyl can also be overlaid on top of existing tiles, a real cost-saver if you can cover what's there instead of hacking it out. True, tile and marble have high resale value, but these materials can be very difficult to remove if you fancy another renovation down the road.

Tip: Grinding or polishing the existing flooring is an excellent alternative to replacing it altogether.

7. Go minimal

While a statement wall or trendy, unusual features can make your house stand out, it will usually cost you more money. Minimal, clean designs make a small interior feel less cluttered.

One great thing about going minimal is ... less stuff! And less stuff means you'll save money. If you do shop, choose quality pieces, and don't be afraid to throw things out (or donate them) if you don't use them. Consider the renovation a new start and goal for a major spring clean, regardless of the season. As a bonus, you'll also find it easier to keep your beautiful new home tidy.

Tip: Using light colours and natural furnishings will create a feeling of spaciousness.

8. Do it yourself

If you have an eye for detail and design, why not trust your instincts and do it yourself? An interior design consultant can often cost more than the building contractor. With handy apps, easy-to-use materials and your project carefully planned, you'll save the most money if you take charge. Who knows - maybe you'll end up going into business for yourself if all goes well!

If you do decide to hire someone to manage the renovations, choose from a list of approved contractors or ask around for a reference. When it comes to price, remember the old rule that out of quality, speed, or low cost, you can't have all three. If a contractor's quote seems too good to be true, there's probably a reason for it.

Tip: Consider your time and experience. A bad DIY job could end up costing you more money.

9. Lighting and ambiance

High fuel, electrical and lighting costs can quickly add to your renovation bill – and your future utility bills.

It will cost you to install new electrical outlets, so try reducing the number of lightning points in your home. Choose lighter-coloured walls, such as white or cream, to instantly brighten up your home and make the space appear larger. Having a bright house will also make it easier to have stress-free video conference calls and virtual interviews if you work from home.

Tip: Make use of mirrors and glass panels near windows to reflect light.

10. It's in the details

Well done on a beautiful renovation job! Now don't forget the decorating details. It's easier to change a lamp or a pillow than a wall colour, so consider personal touches that don't cost a fortune.

The first things people will notice when entering your home are cleanliness (or clutter), artwork and books, furniture arrangement, house plants and the smell. Yes, your house has a smell. Invest in some scented candles and make use of your new space to get organised.

Tip: If you hired a contractor, don't pay the full amount upfront. Now's the time to make sure you're happy with the workmanship.

Follow these 10 tips and you can stretch your renovation budget!

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1 What renovations add the most value to a home?