Don’t blow the budget: Tips for Renovators and/or Home Owners on How to avoid spending all your money on renovating half your house

Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Published on August 26, 2018

A beautiful, renovated house that creates an emotional connection with buyers can help you, the home owners, secure the best price on auction day.

On the other hand, a half-finished renovation put on hold because of a lack of funds will be depressing to live in, and will hurt a home’s chance of selling for top dollar.

Inadequate planning is the primary reason renovations are halted halfway through, and it’s especially problematic for home owners who need to sell but don’t have the funds to finish the project.

Renovating may seem like a fun activity but the process needs to be meticulously planned.


According to professional renovators Refresh Renovators , blowing the budget is almost inevitable for first-time renovators and/or home owners, who have limited experience in costing a project and may overlook the importance of accurate budgeting.

One of the biggest things is lack of understanding of all the elements that need to be included.  We, as home owners, have amazing sources of inspiration. The business end isn’t so amazing.

  1. Prioritise planning

Starting a renovation without a plan will lead home owners to spend more than anticipated, say the experts at  Refresh Renovations.

“They don’t have a defined scope of works before they start,  they tend to touch each area as they go, and it creates a lot of inefficiency with trades.”

Breaking down costs room by room will help you to get a more accurate price estimate.


Renovators and/or home owners often estimate costs too broadly, or focus on the big ticket items while overlooking the minute details and functional aspects of a renovation, such as plumbing and wiring. “The major things renovators and/or home owners  underestimate are all the things they can’t see,” say the experts. “They’re more focused on how it looks.”

The experts suggest breaking down the costs of every aspect of a renovation, room-by-room and item-by-item, – (check out this handy app, Rapid Reno Mate,) to assist with the process.

“It’s about having a structure that you use when you’re pricing up, so you have a guideline to follow to know exactly the sorts of things you need to include.”

2. Scrimp and splurge

Save your splurging for one element of the bathroom, like a feature wall or travertine tiles.

 Splurge on one really impactful element in your bathroom and that could be a feature tile.

A common reno risk is overcapitalisation – spending more on a renovation than the new changes will add in value. However, analysing comparable properties can minimise this risk.

Take a look at recent sales and current values of properties in your neighbourhood that will have a similar level of finish to what you are endeavouring to achieve. It is a good idea to actually research what the market value will be in the end, even if you’re not selling.

Certain changes add more value than others, and knowing where to focus is challenging. However, the three key features will have the biggest impact.


A beautiful splashback or unique rangehood can transform a kitchen.

“A good quality benchtop and splashback, I find they’re some of the big heroes in kitchens. My go-to is engineered stone. And I really do like there to be an investment in outdoor living – that’s such an essential element in our lifestyle,” says Naomi Findlay.

Renovators and/or home owners can save by buying items from wholesalers or seeking suppliers who offer discounts for limited quantities or end of run products. However,  home owners should invest in the features of a property that will remain for the longest, including appliances, cabinets and benchtops.

Make sure you’re buying quality when you put them in. It’s those things that will make a renovation stand out.

  1. Set aside a contingency

Save money where you can on the renovation, and always plan for extra costs to emerge.

Unexpected costs are an unavoidable part of the renovation process and should be planned for in the budget, according to Alisa Fraser and sister Lysandra, winners of The Block: Sky High in 2013.

“Hidden damage such as bad wiring, rotting wood and termites, only uncovered once a reno is under way can be a headache,” Alisa says. “Permit fees for things like adding a swimming pool, extra room or garage can be costly.”

Similarly, understanding what tradespeople will invoice for before works commence avoids expensive surprises.

“Make sure you thoroughly read the fine print in any builder’s contract so you’re aware of extra costs for things like tools and materials.”

To prevent a renovation from grinding to a halt, set aside at least 10 per cent of the total budget to cover unexpected costs. It might mean putting off a renovation to save for a little bit longer, but creating your dream home without hiccups is worth the wait.



If you have a question on the local Real Estate market, or should you spend money on a renovation of your home before you sell, or how to contact a Mortgage Broker, or any information about a local area, just call Matt Wineera on 0274 951 536 who is always on hand to answer your query. His advice is given freely and without obligation.

Work with Matt Wineera who lists and sells homes in the TaurangaMount Maunganui and Papamoa areas.

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