Refurb project: how do you cut back?(18 Posts)
The quotes from the builders are coming in and the real cost of everything is becoming apparent. If I do everything I had wanted to do, I will have spent all the money I have without having a contingency. This, clearly, is not sensible.
I need to cut back my ambitions, but feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. So my question is, what did you have to compromise on with your project and how do you feel about it? Are there things you did which you wished you hadn't? Are there things you didn't do and wish you had?
Briefly, my project is building a small side extension to create a bigger back of the house with bifold doors, bringing the kitchen to the back and creating a utility room where the kitchen used to be. Doing the bathrooms, redecorating everywhere and sorting the garden.
The house has been rented out so it all needs doing and I am a DIY disaster waiting to happen. Plus, I don't have stuff like white goods so all those need to be bought and things like my bed and sofa are on their last legs, so I need a furniture budget too.
It's all more money than I said I was going to spend and am facing the daunting task of doing without some of the things I wanted. If you've been through this, I'd love to hear your stories.
Don't do bi-fold doors. Put in French doors and you can put in bi-fold later. Thousands saved right there.
B&Q do a really good steamer for stripping wallpaper for about £30. It was the same strength as an industrial hire one.
Ikea kitchens are brilliant quality for not a lot of money. We have a b&q kitchen & our previous Ikea one was much better quality
Get an independent kitchen fitter. We did this instead of the b&q fitter. Independent fitter was 25% of the cost that b&q quoted.
Source bathroom bits yourself. Victoria plumb radiators & loos are SO much cheaper than high street options and the quality is fine.
It is disheartening not to be able to do everything you wanted. Believe me, I've been there. We renovated our house when we moved in.
I would suggest do the build that you want. Do the extension, do the utility room. You can change white goods after a year or two, you can decorate at your own pace, but you can't change the building easily.
Oh. And sign up to avios.com I wish I'd done it before our renovation. You can shop through their website and earn loads of avios for stuff you'd be buying anyway. And then you can use those avios to get stuff you wouldn't have been able to afford
How many quotes did you get? Were they all similar? The biggest cut back would to employ individual trades and project manage yourself instead of getting a big company to do it. I also agree about Ikea kitchens being good value for money. You can also save by going for lower spec/price flooring, bathrooms, windows etc. See if you can improve the layout without adding the extension or if the builder thinks it could be done slightly differently to cost less. Save on everything- 10% of your carpet, oven, lamp etc and next thing you know, the whole project costs thousands less.
Thanks for the ideas so far. The builder's putting in the kitchen, so no company involved with that, although I may downgrade kitchen units from the really nice ones, to DIY kitchens.
I have three more quotes coming in. I had one crazy quote and one quote which I think gives a reasonable indication of what it's going to cost. He's a single builder who's got plumber and electrician to quote for their work and said I will pay them direct, so saving on that big company thing. Maybe other quotes could be less, but I don't think substantially so.
We did some similar work. Obviously the biggest cost is going to be on labour so hopefully one of your quotes will come in cheaper. As someone has already said you can save massively on the cost of your bathroom by getting it online, we did and over two years later the quality still seems good. You can also save by getting the kitchen from diy kitchens and getting a laminate worktop rather than a more expensive surface. We got bifold doors and though they were expensive I think they were worth spending the money on as they make such a difference to how the room looks and feels and on a sunny day when you've got them open it's amazing (plus when it comes to reselling people love them). We did all the painting ourselves to save money and shopped around to find the best deals on white goods.
I'd go for doing the extension properly, painting yourself, and then putting the rest in order of priority (e.g.- bathroom 1, then garden, then other bathroom) and stopping when you run out of money. You can always do the rest later but if you bodge the extension it's bodged for good.
By the sound of it, you've got a decent budget anyway (with DIY kitchens being a downgrade). I think you'll achieve a lovely finish by mixing higher and lower end finishes that save money, e.g. I'd fork out for proper flooring or quality taps but you could get away with some more basic tiles. In he kitchen, have a look at your worktops as they tend to really add to the cost.
Yeah, I think the issue with the kitchen was it was started the whole process moving. That I wanted a really nice kitchen, then I ended up thinking maybe it would help the kitchen space if I had an extension. Hey, what would be great in the extension would be some bifold doors... etc. So going back and looking at those original decisions is in order.
Looking at options on the budget now. The extension is the thing that will add value to the house so I should do it, as with the bathrooms (cracked loo seat in main bathroom, no loo in ensuite). I just need to be realistic when it comes to having "nice" when I should have "I can only afford..."
I agree with Grubby, don't cut corners on the structural work as it will lose you resale value and can't easily be redone later. I'd do the extension properly, plus the opening for bifold doors but would go for cheaper kitchen, bathroom fittings, tiles and try to find cheaper bifold doors or french doors. Cheaper kitchen cabinets can IMO often look just as good as expensive ones, it's worth spending a bit on a decent worktop and sink/tap though.
Re garden, I'd try to get any basic landscaping done now (assuming you are in a terrace) so you won't mess up your house by doing that later, but can leave finishing off and planting etc till later. If you have side access however then you cd leave the garden altogether.
I saw on TV might have been grand designs or building the dream, they couldn't afford bi fold doors so built the tracks in there but put in patio doors to be changed to bi fold when had saved more money, could you do that?
I do think though that bi fold might become the decking of yesteryear, in other words everybody wanted decking years ago but now people hate it and are getting rid of it
In our old house we had a wall of double glazed glass with a huge sliding door (about 7' wide the sliding bit so 14' wide in total it was fitted about 1985) anyway the mechanism stopped moving so the door refused to slide open so it stayed shut as a huge window, we were worried about opening it and not getting it closed
Also, the other thing to save money on is white goods, our 20+ year old tumble drier broke last week so needed new one but the shops seemed to only have expensive ones with 12 or 15 settings but our old one was very simple but worked very well (until it broke!) anyway so we saved over £120 getting a WHITE KNIGHT one which came with free delivery from Yorkshire (built in uk) and it works deffo brill
I think you need to be realistic but also have things that you know you absolutely won't compromise on. For us, we'd planned it for such a long time and dreamt of this big family space with access to the garden blah blah that I would not compromise on the bi-folds. I think it would have really compromised the whole finish without those. I agree that you shouldn't compromise on the build, you can't change that but you can cut corners with decor / do that over time.
Also look at the detail of your builders' quote. Is he including say door handles when you know you could get them cheaper online? Little things like that.
But I suppose my compromise was time - I found things I liked in kitchen / bathroom / sofa / carpet showrooms then spent hours trawling the internet looking for the same thing but cheaper (I.e. got the carpet I wanted for £1000 less than quote from local carpet shop by buying from online megastore and sourcing an independent fitter, got some wardrobes from a local FB selling site for DDs bedroom, went for cheap IKEA wardrobe carcasses with made-to-order doors which were less than a third of bespoke fitted wardrobes for main bedroom. Got tiles for bathrooms direct from manufacturer).
And decor wise - we've done it ourselves. Painted everywhere white with the intention of adding colour / wallpaper later but actually really like the white now. We still have the garden to do and the drive but we had run out of money and so are waiting until summer to do those.
If you can live with it then doing it in stages may be an option - with our last big extension we had the money for the shell, and to finish the kitchen - everything else we just put doors on an kept shut off, then did the inside a room at a time when we could afford it. It was annoying to live with, but it meant we ended up with a much bigger extension to a much higher spec than if we'd tried to do it all in one go.
We're planning to extend again in our new house and will go the same route again.
Also worth a visit to a 'home building and renovating' show or similar - you can get a good look at a wide range of products and can often get some good deals. We managed to get a trade card last time too, which was great - it meant we could open trade accounts with several builders merchants and get things at cost price!
I would 100% go for getting the 'bare bones' right e.g. not compromising on the actual extension and things like light and flow. Do not compromise on thins like where the boiler goes [hard stare at previous owners of my house].
Like a PP says - I do the build in order of priority for 'niceness' so like extension/kitchen/bathroom then worry about other bathroom and furniture etc.
I would compromise on:
- the kitchen units, but get a nice work top
- bathroom tiles (I got these and they look the BOMB and are only £15/sqm)
- Flooring, good quality laminate with real beveled edge basically looks the same as engineered wood and is around £20-£25/sqm.
- Carpet - if you are gong to have big expanses of carpets in the bedrooms then get somehting nice, however if by the tim you've put in wardrobes, bed, dressing table etc all you are going ot have is a bit of a strip - go for a cheaper carpet. Not a lot of tangible dfference between the £7/sqm and £30/sqm when you don't have a massive area of carpet to sit/lie/roll around on. Also, cheap carpet + nice rug = less expensive than expensive carpet everywhere.
Furniture - this it totally not something to worry about yet. GEt the house renovated and live in it with your old stuff and then you can see 6 months down the line what you need and what will work well.
- Bathroom fittings - if oyu go for wall hung toilets or things that need boxing in that is all extra money in labour time. Go for a sink like this and a toilet like this gives you the modern look without building false walls and difficult tiling.
Defo get a reward credit card and/or an 18 month interest free credit card so you get points to spend or delay the cash impact.
Don't do the garden until the very end, we had a teeny extension built but they need somewhere to put the bricks, the thermalite inner blocks and somewhere to mix the mortar. Plus we had a soil heap from the dig out for foundations. Ruined the garden and so we had that done about 2 years afterwards.
Do not compromise on the kitchen part, you will only walk in every day and think I wish...
Try to do things within trades ie get the plumber to quote you for the kitchen work plus the bathroom/en-suite bit.
We concentrated on downstairs and now are just finishing up the upstairs some 3 years later. Be realistic. If bi-folds are what you want buy ready made rather than made to measure. Research stuff, get a Pinterest account set up, find the thing you like then find out where it is the cheapest.
Go to trade places rather than B&Q, so toolstation/screwfix look online to find stuff.
With kitchens it's often internal fittings that rack up the £ - don't bother with corner fitting things! Drawers are worth paying for. Are you buying wall cupboards that you don't really need - they make the room look visually smaller and aren't that great for storage anyway.
We tried to put money into "permanent" things like windows and doors. Kitchen and bathroom fittings and flooring were fairly inexpensive as these date before they wear out. Also you spend very little time in bathrooms and they aren't on view to visitors, so I concluded they didn't need to be a vanity project! The kitchen I was more bothered about looking nice but it is DIY kitchens (came out similar price to Ikea) and painted bits. We did a lot of decorating and small jobs ourselves, unfortunately 5 years later quite a few of those jobs are still waiting...
We saved things to reuse, our good quality timber doors, nearly new cloakroom suite etc. If you do this you must make sure builders know it, and store them properly with ALL THE FIXINGS.
Thanks for all your thoughtful comments.
I need to bite the bullet at some point, but it is so hard. I will keep writing lists and trying to make those tough decisions.
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