If you’ve been watching The Block over the past few months, chances are you’ve got the urge to give your home a bit of a makeover.

While it’s tempting to jump in and start renovating, there is one golden rule you need to be aware of: know your costs before you start. If you begin your renovation by just estimating costs, it will be a recipe for disaster. Almost inevitably, your money will run out well before the renovation is finished.

I recently helped a client who was heading for this scenario. He had bought a property and assumed he could renovate it for  $30,000-$40,000. With that budget in mind, he expected to have the interior and exterior painted, put in a new basic kitchen, fix up the bathroom and replace the flooring.

Thankfully, he decided to get some advice before starting, and my builder and I went to the property to take a look. As experts in our respective fields, we were able to do a realistic estimate of costs there and then, foresee potential problems and take into account the knock-on effect (and its associated costs) of each area of renovation.

It didn’t take long to work out that, given the state and size of the house, even a very basic renovation would cost closer to $60,000 or $65,000. Painting and prep for the weather-beaten exterior would be $15,000 to $18,000 alone. That’s half his original budget.

What a nightmare it would have been if the client had just put basic figures together, and then jumped straight into the renovation before realising they were too low.

Here’s the advice we gave to this client:

  • Refocus the available funds
  • Don’t spread your dollar too thinly
  • Start with your number one area and go from there

In this case, it made the most sense to focus on the kitchen and living area because this would make best use of the available funds while creating the biggest impact.

Whatever area you decide to focus on, it’s essential that you know what your real costs are before you begin. Don’t assume the estimate you have come up with is correct if this is not something you do regularly.

Budgets aren’t only blown out by expensive product choices, they’re blown out by underestimating the real costs of your completed renovation.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for people to think they don’t need help with their renovation. But by jumping in head first without taking the time to get accurate costs and sound renovation advice from a renovation expert, you’ll usually over-spend on what would have been that expert’s fee.