Last week I asked what type of home content you wanted to see on the old blog and the overwhelming answer I got was tips on where to find cheap accessories and tips on how to renovate/decorate on a budget.
So not one to disappoint, here I am with renovation on a budget.
1. Set your budget.
Self explanatory but if you don't have a budget you can't plan to stick to one. Sit down and realistically work out what you can afford to still live comfortably. if possible, work out month on month for the time you have planned to renovate/decorate so you know other commitments you have on and don't sell yourself short. We knew for a while when we were going to do up our place and what it needed to make it habitable and we had savings backed up for it and a budget. Pretty much all of it was down to me decision making and shopping wise and I kept our budget in mind the whole time.
2. Do your research.
Absolutely the first port of call when it comes to renovating and planning to do so with a price in mind. I can't tell you how long I spend searching things online and making a million lists and agonising over decisions before I made them. Firstly, make a list of everything that needs doing or buying, down to the smallest smallest things. Then do some research and see how much those things are likely to cost you. Not happy with the first price you see? Research where you can get it cheaper. Research how you can do it yourself. Research research research and a billion and one lists and Google tabs to support it.
3. Take recommendations.
The biggest headache with a new place that needs work is the renovation side over the decorating side. Finding tradesmen can be a bloody nightmare, avoiding cowboys but paying a fair price is the dream but how on god's name do you know where to start? Recommendations. Ask around, ask family ask friends, chances are most people know someone. You know the types of conversations "Ohhhhh my neighbour had a whole new bathroom two months ago, I'll ask for the name of their plumber". A local recommendation is everything. The majority of our work was in our kitchen, we needed new plumbing, new electrics, new tiling, a wall knocked down, a new window put in, new radiators and new worktops. We had quotes but I chose to go with a builder and friend of my mother's who brought his own electricians and plumber, both of whom had also done work on my Mum's house. I knew they'd do a good job and they wouldn't overcharge and I was right.
4. Shop sales.
I can't stress this enough - if you know you're renovating and redecorating shop the sales when you get the chance. ALWAYS keep your eye on the B&Q and Homebase websites to see when they've got a seasonal promotion on. Our work started in January of this year and I was buying stuff from the Christmas right the way up until we actually started decorating in the March. I bought paint in the January sales that I didn't use for months but got for half the price. Also if you have a DIY store local to you pop in every now and then, lots of them sell off stock of paint on deals not advertised online. My only advice would be if you're shopping seasonal sales be mindful of receipts and when you can return stuff. I ended up overestimating how much paint I needed for one room and I couldn't take them back as the date had passed. In the end it didn't matter because I used it to paint another room but keep it in the back of your mind.
5. Do what you can.
Start by making a big old list of what you want to do in the house, down to the littlest things, and then go back over that list and see what's absolutely essential you do now. For example, we didn't have a kitchen when the house became ours so that was the thing we needed to do first and the thing we needed to pay for most. Our place was his parents before ours so the rooms were used for other things and we wanted to redecorate and make it our own with our own tastes. However, lots of the rooms were recently redecorated by his family anyway so didn't need doing, so whilst maybe not the colours or curtains we'd choose, it'd be stupid to change them and spend extra money now. There's still things we want to do - I want a stable door out the back of the kitchen, I want to repaint some other rooms, I want to put more lights in the hall etc etc etc but none of them are essential to our living and happiness right now. Make a list of priorities and it'll help you budget for what's important now, and help you save for what's to come.
6. Splash the cash.
Sometimes, there's some things you need spend a bit extra on and you need to be wise about them. There's some investments that are wise to make now and would cost you extra in the future if you scrimp. For example, appliances are less important to me. Curry's do some really great own brand dishwashers and fridge freezers which do just what the branded ones do, but for half the price. They don't look as fancy but they do the job. But other things we made the decision to spend on. There were a few things we wanted done to the electrics that weren't essential to our living, things like moving plug points and bringing the wiring for the TV down to the skirting boards instead of halfway up the wall. They were things I wanted to do in the future but we were having essential electrics work done too and it just made more sense to pay for them to come out once than several times. The biggest single expense (apart from the labour of the tradesmen) was our worktops. We have a ginormous kitchen, there's no two ways about it, it's huge and the existing worktops needed to come off to fit the sink and hob in. We ended up having to have THREE of the biggest pieces of worktops you can buy and we had to decide whether to buy smaller bits that were cheaper but would need a very noticeable join or splash out on the 3 slabs. In the end I made the decision to spend the cash (all £600 quid of it) on the biggest worktops knowing we'd want to change it in the near future anyway and it was best decision I made on the whole house.
7. Get down and dirty.
If you can do it yourself - do it. Rope in all your friends and family, do a lot of Googling, watch a lot of Youtube tutorials but get your hands mucky and get stuck in. The more you can do yourself or get people to help you with in return for lots of cups of tea the better. I did all the cleaning (renovations are VERY dusty), decorating and painting myself which included 9 rooms and 1 ceiling and Joss did all the DIY, putting up blinds and curtains and shelves and pictures. The only things we paid for other people to do were the trades and trust me when I say if we could have done them ourselves we would.
8. Buy what you NEED not what you want.
Oh the temptation to buy all the copper filament lights and expensive potted plants. But alas, building work on a budget just doesn't allow for it. There's a load of things we still want for our place, we'd love one of them massive super king beds more than life but we have a perfectly comfortable and suitable double for now. Things we DID need included a dishwasher, a freezer, a washing machine, a spare bed, chest of draws etc etc etc and those were the things we bought. It's so exciting to finally be able to go shopping but stick to the things that make your home habitable for now, and shop the bits as and when you have the disposable income.
9. Cater to your house.
100% the biggest piece of advice I could give (and it's not so much to do with budget) is to cater to the feeling of your house. I dream of a Pinterest style house, all white walls and pink accents and a dark blue teal kitchen and black tile floors but it's just not my house. My house is on a family farm. It's country style and needs colour and brown wood floors and all oak furniture and nothing glossy. I wanted a blue wall in my kitchen and I painted it three times until I decided yellow was the way to go - and now it's my favourite wall. Get a feel for your house and the character in it and cater to it, it'll only feel disjointed and uncomfortable and not like home if you try and force it.
10. File everything.
And finally - keep a record of everything. Receipts, contracts, paperwork, guarantees, instruction manuals....everything. Create a booklet or a folder of all your housework stuff and keep it all together in one place. Make tabs for trades, tabs for products, tabs for manuals, make reminders for when warrantees run out, when you need to renew things. File everything and also make an ongoing record of things as you're going along. I had a page in my bullet journal where I wrote down every time we spent things so I could see the whole time we were on target with our budget.
When we started our work Joss said if we came in under budget I could have a new toaster and kettle (things I wanted but didn't need) and it became the symbol of the whole renovation. I got the kettle and the toaster.