It would be quite a nasty shock to receive quotes from your builder that are double the budget you have in mind.

This comes as no surprise for architect Amelia Lee, who is the founder of website Undercover Architect, an online resource for renovators and those planning to build a new home.

“There’s an old saying that renovations take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expect,” Ms Lee said.

Ms Lee added that at the start of the project, there’s definitely a mismatch with what people want to spend and what can be achieved.

There are steps that you can take to prevent a nasty surprise the builders’ quotes come in.


Add Up the Costs

Ms Lee recommended that you research other houses in your area what they were selling for with renovations or build the same as the one you had in mind.

This will help you get an idea how much money will be sensible to spend on your project.

“Then work out how much you are actually prepared to spend by figuring out what you really want from the project, and how it fits into the big picture of your life,” she said.

Determine whether you will just be staying in the house for a few years or if it is a long-term family home. Do you want to spend an extra $15,000 on that high-end kitchen or do you want to have family holidays once in a while?


Don’t Hide Your Budget

When you’ve already come up with the right budget, share the information to your designer and other project team members.

A good designer will see to it that he/she doesn’t go over your budget. The ability of those you work with to give you useful and helpful advice relies on the information you give them, so being open and honest go a long way.


Don’t Delay

Ensure that you start getting quotes early on your project. This will give you better chances of avoiding quote shock.

“People will often spend months working with a designer or a draftsperson and it’s only later when they speak to a builder that they find out a realistic cost,” Ms Lee said.

Ms Lee advised that clients must try and get a builder involved early on so there are still leeways for adjustments to meet your budget before getting too far along with the planning and approval process.

There might be a fee charged for the early quote, and it might only be a ballpark figure, but it will save money and stress in the long run.

Obtain a quote from a quantity surveyor or builder before lodging plans for council approval.

That way, you won’t spend too much time and money having designs approved that you can’t afford.


Getting Around It

What if you’ve already got quotes that are too high?

You might feel demoralised about knowing you can’t actually afford to do what you initially wanted to do.

Still, it’s possible to work with the budget that you have and still make worthwhile transformation to your home and lifestyle.

Ms Lee recommended that to reduce building or renovation costs, you must:

■ Focus on quality over quantity. Even with fewer rooms, the design can be good and suit your needs.

■ Don’t splash out on fancy materials. Keep costs down by using traditional, off-the-shelf materials in interesting ways.

■ Use clever, timesaving design ideas. For example, keep all the wet areas close together to reduce plumbing costs.

■ Add some elements later. Your financial situation might be more comfortable in the future, so consider a design that allows for more features to be added later on.

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