Worried about your Home Improvement Budget? This will help

There’s so much to consider when planning a home renovation or extension that it can be hard to know how to budget for it. Make it easy on yourself by following these rules to ensure you keep control of costs and get the very most from your investment

Rule 1: Seek the right advice 

Before you start, it’s really worth asking for some advice about how best to allocate your budget. Do, however, make sure it’s from someone who’s impartial, as family and friends may be too emotionally invested to help you make objective decisions.

An architect, for instance, will advise clients where best to invest in their homes and will always endeavour to recommend ways to save money and keep the job within budget. Alternatively, seek the opinion of a building contractor, who should be able to help you get a handle on the cost of what you’re planning to do.

Rule 2: Be honest about your budget 

It’s really important you’re upfront about how much you have to spend. There’s a misconception that it’s a bad idea to tell an architect or builder what your budget is. This is absolutely not the case; in fact, without knowing how much you have to spend, it’s impossible to advise you appropriately.

If your architect or builder knows what funds are available, it will allow them to prioritise and steer you in the right direction in terms of where your money would be best spent and what, if any, compromises need to be made.

Rule 3: Get to grips with fees 

If you’re planning to work with an architect, speak to them about how their fee structure works. Is it percentage-based or a fixed fee? A percentage-based fee will mean that, if the budget were to increase, the fee would also increase, so it’s important you factor this into your cost plan.

Aside from the architect’s fees, you’ll also need to include fees for other consultants, such as a structural engineer and a quantity surveyor.

Rule 4: Find out what’s included 

It’s important you have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t included in the contractor’s price. Typically, the contractor will not include items such as windows, kitchens, bathroom fittings or finishes.

These are referred to as client supply items and are sometimes given what’s called a provisional cost by the contractor in his pricing document. The provisional cost, also called a PC sum, refers to the estimated cost of something that the contractor assumes the client will supply.

For example, they might include a PC sum of €15,000 for your kitchen. However, you could actually end up spending €25,000, which means the estimate would be €10,000 out. This is why it’s so important to research all of the items you need to supply yourself in advance, so you have an accurate picture of what the total price will be.

 

Rule 5: Don’t forget the extras 

There are likely to be costs that aren’t directly included in your contractor’s quote. For example, if you need Planning Permission for the work you’re proposing, you’ll need to pay a fee to the council, which will vary depending on the works you’re planning.

Also, if you’d prefer to move out while the works are going on, you should include rent in your overall budget. You might also need to pay storage costs.

Rule 6: Stick to your plans 

Once your project is underway, be careful about making changes or last-minute additions. These will be things the builder hasn’t priced for and will add up quickly to bring you over budget.

Instead, take the time to plan carefully at the outset of a project to ensure you’re positive about the decisions you make.

Rule 7: Shop around

For the items not covered in your contractor’s price, it’s a good idea to get quotes from a number of different suppliers. The important thing here is to make sure each company is working from the same brief. Even the most subtle of differences in the plans you give them can have a huge impact on how much they’ll charge. If everyone is quoting for the same design brief, you can compare the quotes exactly, which will ensure you get the best deal.

Rule 8: Set aside a contingency 

Once you have a firm idea of what your budget is, you’ll need to set aside at least 10% as a contingency fund for any unexpected extra costs. Building projects can often run up against problems that are impossible to predict from the outset. By planning for this at the beginning, you’ll ensure that any nasty surprises don’t eat into your overall budget.

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