6 Cheap Renovation Tips for the Australian homeowner

A full remodel of your property might not be on the cards, but chances are there’s space for a cheap renovation. And why not? Most of us could look around our houses and see some things that need changing. It’s very possible to improve your property without breaking the bank or taking down a wall.

1.      Set realistic expectations

Put away your sledgehammers and bulldozers. Broadly speaking here are two types of renovations, structural and cosmetic, and you probably don’t have the necessary skills or finances to do structural changes. Even if you do, it may not be wise to do them cheaply! You need to be willing to focus on cosmetic changes that you can execute effectively. Not only that, but you need to break each room/task into small, manageable pieces. ‘Renovate bathroom’ looks easy, but maybe you should start looking for which taps you want first. Once you break the project into lists of smaller tasks, it will be less daunting, and easier to tackle. Not only that, but if you get distracted, you’ll know exactly where you were when you come back to it.

2.      Be smart about what you’re changing

If you’re renovating with value in mind, you should be trying to get double the value back. If you spend $1000 renovating, it should increase the value of your property by at least $2000. If you’re working with a very limited budget, you should focus on the tasks that will give you the highest return on your investment. You can do your own research for your own property, but some of the highest return projects are installing automatic garage doors, updating the exterior of your property (whether painting or rendering the outside) or updating the kitchen and/or bathroom. If you’re renovating with resale in mind, don’t be too outlandish with your renovations — make it look better, but keep it easily customisable for the new buyers. This works well for you as well, as it means those rooms will be easier to ‘refresh’ in the future, without needing to remodel them again!

3.      Work smarter, not harder

You don’t need to completely change the space you’re living in — you’d be surprised at what a difference a small change can make. Little things like changing doorknobs (and fixing any that are falling off) or light fittings will make it look like you’ve paid attention to detail, even if the details are the only thing you’ve changed. If you’re stuck for motivation, try looking through renovation blogs and sites like Pinterest to see what other people have done.

4.      But don’t be too cheap

You can do a lot for a little, and while good taste and a good eye for style will save you some money, you just can’t fake quality. Cheap fixtures that will chip or wear easily might look good for a photo, but this house needs to be lived in. Flaky breaky fittings and fixtures might make for great country music, but they will undo all your hard work in an instant as they start to wear. Cheaper is sometimes better, but cheapest is rarely best.

5.      Be ambitious but cautious

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and if you’ve seen babies learning, first steps aren’t the most confident. Start your renovation on something small, somewhere where it doesn’t matter as much. Laundries are a good place to work on practical skills, as most people aren’t too invested in the space as a style statement. Keep the feature rooms (whatever they may be for your property) to the end of the renovation. By then, you’ll know whether you can tackle it, or if it might be worth springing for an expert.

6.      Work within your limits

If you don’t have much money to spend, you may need to spend more time sourcing materials and ideas. Dig deep, online and at your local stores, and see what bargains you can uncover. Do your research and know what to look for, and what to ask for. You can save learning your own lessons by reading about the obstacles other people have had to overcome, and there are hundreds of hours of tutorials and how-to videos out there online.

It might be a lot easier to hand over renovations to someone else, but if you’re realistic about your limitations and looking to save some money, it might be better to do it yourself. So long as you’re mindful of what you want out of the renovations, you should be able to keep your plans and your budget on track. The result will add value to your property, give you a few new skills and give you a good reason to give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t forget that if you own an investment property, you may be able to claim certain improvement expenses against capital gains when you sell the property. Read our blog article on capital gains tax and property improvements here. If you have any questions, we’d love for you to contact us.