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Budget hacks for small to super-sized home renos

Published October 2020

From quick fixes to big builds, your budget will thank you.

If you’ve decided to tackle a home renovation it means two things: 1) you’re very brave, and 2) you’ve got a lot of (hopefully exciting!) work ahead. Planning your budget and deciding the scale of your project up front are key to helping you pull it all off beautifully.

In this climate, renovations are set to be a key form of living upgrade for many Australians. These days, people are more familiar with their abodes than they may have liked, and may be noticing some areas for improvement.

Giving that wall a lick of paint, rehanging the door, or plotting some serious remodelling has been front-of-mind for many, so we’re sharing some of our best home improvement tips to help rooky renovators, second time dreamers or pro-renovators of all kinds.

How to finance a renovation

A reno is a big commitment.

The first and best way to help finance your project is to budget hard, save your pennies where you can and pay your reno costs from money you’ve got.

If you need over and above your savings and you have an existing home loan, there are a range of financing options that may be available to you – such as increasing your variable home loan limit or applying for a supplementary loan to access house equity. It’s best to do your research and speak to your bank, a home loan broker or search for an option that’s right for you.

But that’s not the only help available for renovators. The Australian government is making things a little easier by introducing HomeBuilder1: an initiative that offers a $25,000 grant to eligible people building new homes or substantially renovating their current home. 

To be eligible you have to fall under the income cap ($125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples) and the renovation has to be on your current home and valued between $150,000 and $750,000. Also, the value of the existing property (house and land) cannot exceed $1.5 million.  There are some state-level nuances and further criteria, all of which you can find at the Australian government’s treasury website

How to budget for a medium to large reno

Every home improvement is unique – and each one needs a solid budget. Prices will differ wildly between rooms, with kitchens tending to hit the wallet hardest. Bathrooms tend to be a step down from that, while bedrooms and living areas come in a little cheaper due to less trades, appliances and materials needed. Want to knock down walls or reroute existing power sources? You could see your budget balloon out very quickly, so see if there are ways to work with what you’ve got.

From small DIY jobs, to full-scale rebuilds, a home renovation can cost you anywhere from $500 to $500,000 (and beyond!). When planning your budget, you’ll need to figure out the cost of materials as well as labour. If you’re engaging professional help, work out your budget as though you’re paying for every can of paint or square of carpet going in – you might find that they’ll be able to source the same products at cheaper rates giving your budget some room to breathe.

Here are some handy tips to help you budget:

  1. Nail down your “scope of work”. You need a solid list of all you want to achieve. This may involve prioritising your goals and picking what you really need.
  2. Shop around for quotes. Who cares how tiresome a second opinion may seem - it can save you thousands.
  3. Factor in a blow-out. Look, you’ve seen The Block; there’s a possibility you could go over your initial budget. To save yourself the mental anguish, include some wiggle room in your budget.
  4. Track your spend daily. During construction, monitor your budget diligently to ensure no nasty surprises. You can use a good old spreadsheet or apps which help you track expenses.
  5. Take notes. While this might be your first rodeo, it probably won’t be your last. Writing down your key learnings from the process will help you optimise your approach next time.

Quick wins to refresh your home

Hardware stores reported skyrocketing sales in recent months – but not because of grandiose, foundation-shuffling home renovations. Most homeowners were more interested in quick cosmetic updates, guided by sheer will and the magic of Google and YouTube.

If that’s the boat you’re in, here are some quick improvements that could help refresh your home:

  • Fix your fixtures: New taps and handles can transform a bathroom or kitchen and are relatively easy to install (hello DIY!).
  • Recap your cabinetry: Not exactly ‘cheap’, but still an option that can markedly transform your kitchen over just a couple of weekends. For the easiest option, just repaint or replace the cupboard doors.
  • WOW your walls: Whether painting a feature wall, every wall, or adding stylish wallpaper, this is one of the most popular DIY renovation updates. 
  • Do your doors: Painting or replacing your front door can revitalise your home from the outside in. You can also colour coordinate by painting your exterior accents and the letterbox the same colour.
  • Splash out on splashbacks: The addition of a splashback could help to make your kitchen look like new. Tiles aren’t your only option – investigate other materials that will best compliment your fixtures. 
  • Counter your tops: For as little as a few hundred dollars you can update your kitchen island or other countertops with a variety of new materials. You can even get homely wooden options from IKEA.
  • Green your gardening: A trip to grab some plants and fresh soil from your local hardware store is an excellent Sunday job. You can also grab wood while you’re there and build some new planters for a cute veggie patch.
  • Mirror, mirrors: a large mirror is a simple way to make a room look bigger and add light. 

This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of easy (ish) home improvements, but could take you a long way towards revitalising your space – whether you’re just after a quick weekend task or throwing in everything (and the kitchen sink).

Ready to set a savings goal?

The first step towards saving more is to set a solid, smart target. Head over to the ANZ Financial Wellbeing Program to Set a Savings Goal (that you’ll actually reach) today.

Start today

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1. Homebuilder, Economic Response to Coronavirus, The Treasury, The Australian Government

The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations.  You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.