25 Nov 10 ways to cut the cost of your home refurbishment in East Finchley
Moving is expensive, extending can be beyond your financial means, so when you’re looking for more space or a spruce up at home, it’s a refurbishment that you’ll need. This can range from a lick of paint to removing walls and rearranging your home to better suit your lifestyle or preferences. So, if you’re on a limited budget (isn’t everyone?), here’s a quick look at ten ways you could cut the cost of your home refurbishment so you can create the home you dream of for less.
1. Make do and mend
During World War II when everything was scarce, the mantra was ‘make do and mend’ meaning ‘work with what you’ve already got’. This could be a way for you to keep your refurbishment costs down. Take bricks from the walls you remove to use in others you build elsewhere in your home, give your older furniture new life with a little upholstering, change just the doors on tired kitchen units, look for pieces you can repair from car boots and reclamation yards, and seek out bargains at your local bric-a-brac shops.
2. DIY project management
The project manager is one of the unsung heroes of the building trade because most people simply assume that the intricate planning, scheduling and management of the build just kind of ‘happens’. That’s why so many have-a-go DIYers think they’ll save themselves a bob or two by managing the work themselves. This is not where to scrimp – a good project manager will not only keep the project on track, but will also be able to recognise where savings can be made.
3. Architect, who needs one?
There are many people in the building game who can draw, design and plan, so you may be wondering why you’d need an ‘expensive’ architect. This too is a place not to cut corners. Some projects can be designed by others, but many will require the services of a good architect to make the most of your space. And never more so than when you require planning permission – in order to give yourself the best chance of gaining approval from the planning authority you’ll need the necessary plans and elevations drawn up by a professional.
4. Plan purchasing supplies well in advance
Sales never seem to be on when you actually need to buy something (unless you’re looking for a bed because Dreams always seems to have a sale on). So, plan well in advance, collect items over time when sales are on, when you come across the perfect item like the bathroom that’s 50% off or the ideal three-piece suite that came up in an auction. It can sometimes make sense to buy building materials, paints and other items ahead of time when you can benefit from bulk purchases and deals.
5. Quote, quote and quote again
Don’t be swayed by the sweet talk. Never stop at your first quote, get comparisons. At the very least you’ll get another building professional’s view on what you could do with the space and if you’re lucky you may make a considerable saving by finding someone cheaper. That being said, cost saving is not just about finding the least expensive option because sometimes this will end up costing you more in the long run. It’s about balancing the quote with the quality and care a builder will offer.
6. Get stuck in
A significant proportion of any building costs will go on labour so a common way to save on a refurbishment is to get stuck in, roll up your sleeves and help out. It’s also important to recognise when you’re actually more of a hindrance than a help, so if you don’t have the skills or find that mistakes are being made it may be best to leave it to the professionals.
7. Know the right people
While there are some jobs that anyone can do by just rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in there are others that should just be handled by the professionals. Part of your pre-project planning process should be to find a list of all the right people to call upon should you need them. Find their phone numbers. Have their quotes/estimates to hand. Make sure you know when they’re available so you can coordinate your project to avoid delays, disasters and last-minute rushed decisions that could cost you dearly.
8. Plan your planning permission
The cost of applying for planning permission is only a few hundred pounds, but poor planning could see you spending thousands. Firstly, do you need planning permission? Find out whether your work requires local authority approval – most work inside a property will not. Secondly, the number of times you need to apply will be determined by the people you have supporting you, like your architect and builder, because it’s their advice and design plans that will give you the best chance of getting the planning permission you need.
9. Call in your friendly neighbourhood tree surgeon
Trees close to your property can spook local planning officers and increase the risk of a failed application. If you ask a friendly local tree surgeon to review a potential problem tree and write a report this can go a long way to allaying a planning officer’s fears, reducing the need for expensive tree work or reapplication. However, should you find that a tree might cause issues in the future you may need to do some work on it or you’ll start finding cracks in your new plasterwork and a more costly bill later on.
10. Avoid the cowboys
Finding the right builder can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, there are just so many horror stories out there. Choose poorly and the ‘builder’ you select could take your money and run or damage your home. It’s always best to find a firm on recommendation, someone who has actually used their services and is happy with their work. References, a written quote, insurance documentation and membership of an industry body such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) will also provide peace of mind.