Seven ways to keep a refurb on budget without compromising on design

Re-think your wet room, consider a combi-boiler and get standard doors

Whether building a new house or simply renovating an existing home, trying to stay on budget without cutting corners can be a challenge. But there are ways to compromise that don’t have to involve huge sacrifices. Here are some ideas for how to cut costs without reducing the impact of the overall scheme.

Avoid non-standard windows and doors
Custom-made doors and windows are much more expensive than standard off-the-shelf versions. By sticking with standard sizes you could make savings of as much as 20 per cent. Windows also come in a range of standard colours; choose a colour that is off standard and the cost will go up. It's also cheaper to go for the same colour inside and outside. Dual-colours will be more expensive. Also look at the amount of glazing that you are planning. You may be able to pull back slightly or reduce the number of opening sections, which again will reduce the cost.

Re-think your wet room
Wet rooms are a lovely feature but they are more costly to install than a standard shower enclosure. To save cost without compromising on style, opt for a low profile shower tray. This can create largely the same effect without the additional cost. Shower trays also mean that you will have an enclosure of a standard size, meaning you can select an off-the-shelf shower screen rather than a bespoke version.

Paint your woodwork
Opt for painted doors, skirting and architraves. This way you can select soft-wood or medium-density fibreboard (MDF) rather than hard wood. Timber doors are also more expensive than the versions sold to be painted. Not only is this a great way to make savings without paring back on style, but painted woodwork will give you greater flexibility with your decor in the long run.


White sockets, switches and light fittings
This one is well worth considering and will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on the look of your home. By opting for white sockets, switches and downlights you could save as much as 50 per cent on the cost of these fittings. In fact, in ceilings I believe the white versions look better as they tend to be less noticeable. Look at the number of fittings that you have in general. With sockets it's good to be generous but with lighting bear in mind that in the majority of rooms you will rely on lamps for lighting and not ceiling lights so you can afford to pull back.

Consider a combi-boiler
Combi-boilers provide space, heating and water on demand. They don't produce and store hot water, meaning that you don't need a hot water cylinder. This is great in smaller homes as it frees up valuable space for storage etc. Not only are combi-boilers less expensive to install – unlike a regular boiler, (which typically produces hot water twice a day usually in the morning and again in the evening, regardless of whether it gets used or not), combi-boilers only produce hot water when it's needed making them much more energy efficient, and saving money on heating bills.

Fibreglass roof finish instead of a metal roof
Metal roof finishes have become more and more popular in recent years. They are a low maintenance finish that offer a contemporary look, but they are also expensive. Fibreglass however is a fantastic alternative that's really worth considering if you love the look of metal but are looking to save on cost. Not only is the material less expensive but the installation costs are a lot lower too. Typically you could save as much as 50per cent on the overall cost of the roof by making the change.

Avoid cowboy tradespeople and contractors
The cheapest quote might not actually be the most affordable. It can be tempting when getting prices to go with the cheapest contractor but it's really important that you look into what they are actually pricing for. Unfortunately there are some builders who will vastly underestimate costs — either through inexperience or perhaps in order to secure a job. The issue here is that once you've committed to work with them and the job has started they may start to add costs. To avoid making this kind of mistake, always ask for references and most importantly, check them. Try to get at least one comparison quote and agree a price upfront with the contractor. Go through the price before you start to ensure everything you want is included. Never pay for work in advance, only pay for work that has been completed and that you are happy with.

Denise O'Connor is an architect and design consultant @OptimiseDesign