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What to do if your renovation costs go over budget

By George Hadgelias

It’s almost expected, these days, that renovations will take longer than you’d originally planned.

But what about the cost? Calculating your renovation budget might seem straightforward, but often labour charges, breakages and other costs pile up on top of the cost of your materials.

So what should you do if your renovation goes over budget?

Pax Project Management director Chris Paxino says that once you realise your project is over budget – or is likely to be – you’ve got some decisions to make that fall into two categories: easy and hard.

Easy – switch to cheaper materials & fittings

There is a plethora of building materials out there, all with varying styles and costs.

So a quick way to save money is to return some of your more expensive items and choose ones that look similar and are of similar quality, but cost less.

“Things like replacing a stone or tile with a material that looks similar and costs less but doesn’t compromise on quality is an easy way to cut back,” Paxino says.

Easy – get additional quotes for the same materials

Buying everything from the one supplier makes sense. It’ll certainly save you having to traipse around to a number of different stores as you piece together your new bathroom or kitchen.

“Remove details or items that you wanted to have, but don’t really need or care about it. They were nice to have, but it’s more important that you’re able to actually finish the project.”

Hard – reduce the quality

As much as it might hurt not to have that $8000 Bertazzoni oven and stovetop, or marble tiling in your bathroom, if you’re prepared to compromise on quality then you can help bring your budget back into the black.

It might be a hard decision emotionally, but if you’re already over budget, there are plenty of options out there that will do the job at a fraction of the price.

“Things like laminate benches in lieu of stone benchtops are easy ways to cut costs. Yes, you won’t have the exact materials that you want, but again, it’s better to have a cheaper finish than to not be able to afford to finish the renovation,” Paxino says.

Hard – put it on hold

This is particularly apt if you’re renovating more than one part of your home – if your costs have blown out, there’s nothing stopping you putting the next stage of the project on hold until you can afford it.

“Providing they’re still functional, it’s perfectly OK to look at deleting a bedroom or a bathroom from your renovation to-do list,” Paxino says.

“You can always pick it up and do it later once you’ve been able to save up more money.”

But can you get a better deal on key items from another store? Paxino says you almost always can, provided you’re prepared to put in the time.

“You should try to get a second or third quote for the same items by negotiating with suppliers,” he says.

“Don’t be afraid to haggle. If you tell them you can’t afford their price and will look elsewhere, they’ll usually knock a bit more off the price.”

Easy – delete the non-essentials

If you’re renovating and intend to live in the property, you might have added in a few fittings or features that make the space more attractive or give it that ‘wow’ factor, but aren’t essential.

Paxino says that if you need to straighten up your budget, these could be the first to go.

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