3 corners you can't afford to cut when renovating

16 Jun 2020

You’ve waited for years, but it’s finally time to do those renovations that are going to transform your cramped family home into a haven of light and space. Or even just give you a little more room to move.

According to Housing Industry Australia, almost a third of Australians will spend between $70,000 and $200,000 on a home upgrade – which is more than just a bit of spare change. The primary focus is on new kitchens.

While you fixate on those paint colours, new couch and divine lighting fixtures, it’s essential you don’t cut corners on the basics. 

We asked Jane Eyles-Bennett of Queensland-based renovation specialist Hotspace for her advice.

1. Layout

Getting your layout right from the very beginning is paramount, says Jane. And that probably means seeking the help of a professional. 

“The worst thing people can do is renovate what they have when the layout that exists is not the best one for the space,” she says. “If they’re going to the expense of pulling out a kitchen or redoing a bathroom, then sometimes putting it back together the same way is not the best way to do things.” 

A specialist not only offers years of experience and knowledge but can often keep the costs of renovating down by using their industry contacts and utilising space in a better way. “People come to people like me with the layouts they’ve done, thinking they’ve done a brilliant job – but a professional can improve on those plans a thousandfold.”

2. Windows

Windows can be an expensive part of a renovation (fitting new windows to the average-size home can cost upwards of $25,000 ), but Jane says it’s money well spent. “A lot of people overestimate the cost of windows and underestimate the effect that big, beautiful windows can have on a space,” she says. “Natural light is one of the most important things to have in a home.” 

Try to cut costs in other parts of the renovation to ensure you choose the best quality windows you can, Jane says. “If you’ve spent money on beautiful flooring and cabinetry, they’re only accentuated when you’ve got stunning light coming in through grand windows.”

3. Qualified trades

It’s often tempting, if you have a little working knowledge, to undertake jobs such as wiring and plumbing yourself, but in the long run, it will probably take a lot less time and be equally cost-effective to employ a qualified tradesperson. 

“Often, if someone is DYIing something, it can take months and months – but they could pay someone to do the job in a couple of days,” Jane says. “It doesn’t make sense spending all your time on something like plumbing for the sake of a few thousand dollars.” 

She notes that the cost of a qualified tradesperson can often be offset by the trade discounts they can get for clients. “So you’re getting a good job, good quality, the job done quickly and you’re getting their trade discounts as well.”