Home refurb without breaking the bank

Sort It: Off-the-shelf products and phased work can help keep budget in check

The average cost to renovate and extend a three-bed semi in Dublin is now around €250,000. It’s a considerable sum of money, particularly for anyone who has just bought a home. A few basic cost control measures will keep the budget in check.

Keep works to the existing house as minimal as possible
When calculating the budget, refurbishment costs are the hardest to estimate. This is because they depend on the condition of the existing house and the extent of the work required in each area. For example, if your home is in excellent condition, but your plans need a significant amount of internal reconfiguration, you could be looking at a similar refurbishment cost to a neglected older property where only cosmetic work is planned.

To keep refurbishment costs low, try to keep as much of the existing house intact as possible. In particular, avoid structural changes such as moving stairs or supporting walls, which are all costly alterations that will have a significant impact on your budget.

It’s also important to remember when you are extending there will impact on the rest of the house even if you don’t intend to make any changes to the original footprint. Building work will necessitate further redecoration or new flooring, for example, and will significantly affect the overall budget. So often people focus solely on the new build aspect of the project and forget the work will have a knock-on effect on the rest of the house.


Reduce the size of your extension
This might seem like an obvious one, but every square meter you add will cost approx. €2,000. This can add up pretty quickly, and this amount will only cover the construction costs. You'll also need to factor in finishes such as flooring and tiling, fittings like your kitchen and sanitaryware, and of course windows. The bigger the extension, the bigger the cost for all of these items so be sensible and work out the optimum space to suit your needs and your budget.

Avoid bespoke items
Try, where you can, to go with off-the-shelf products. Standard-size windows and doors, for example, are going to be much more affordable than anything that has to be custom made. When choosing the colour of your windows, opt for the standard shades. Windows will come in a range of standard colours, which again will be more affordable than selecting a special colour. The same goes for things like roof lights, and there is an excellent range of suppliers with ready-made solutions. Similarly wardrobes and storage are going to be more cost effective than custom-made versions.

Phase the work
Doing the work in stages isn't the ideal scenario, but sometimes the scale of the works planned is too large for the budget available. Plan for everything on your wish list and then look at ways you could phase the work over time. This isn't the ideal scenario but if, for example, you are planning an attic conversion as part of the project, this will add between €35,000 to €45,000 to the total depending on the size of the house – so this could be left out and done at a later stage.

Be patient and wait
If phasing the work isn't possible then the best solution might be to make the home livable and postpone the project until you have sufficient budget to carry out the complete job. This is going to get you the best value in the long run, and by living in the house, you might find your needs change and you'll be glad you put things off.

Postpone the finishes
Another solution is to get the building work done in one go but to postpone finishing some rooms. Don't feel you have to have every part of the house perfect and finished straight away. Get the basics done and leave the fitout to later. Things like alcove units, curtains and even furniture can be bought over time. Prioritise which rooms are going to be used most frequently and put a plan in place to finish the rest at a later date. By postponing the finishes and not rushing out to get everything straight away, you'll find your home comes together in a much more confident way. I'm often asked the biggest mistake people make when doing up a house; my answer is trying to have everything finished and perfect straight away! A home is meant to evolve so don't put yourself under pressure, take your time and try to enjoy the process.