Planning Your Building Project (2/3)← Back

Budgeting and renovation costs
No matter how carefully you budget for refurbishment works, there is always a degree of uncertainty because at any time you could stumble upon an expensive hidden defect. A rotten floor joist, for example, may only become evident once an old bath has been removed, adding to the cost. So it's normally a good idea to include a contingency sum of the least 10%. As we know from TV property shows, it's very easy at this stage to become overly optimistic, only to come a cropper later on. So when budgeting, try to be realistic.

Labour costs will of course be a major component of the total spend, so if you have the necessary skills to do some of the work yourself it can generate significant savings. When it comes to materials, researching the cost is fairly easy to do online, but don't forget to factor in delivery charges for bulky items, and plan ahead to allow for lead times for items like special glazing, kitchen units and bathroom suites.

When budgeting, consider whether any existing materials can be salvaged and reused or sold. And don't forget to include fees for Surveyors, Structural Engineers, and for Planning or Building Regulation applications.

When employing builders, bear in mind that the small one-off jobs are proportionately dearer. Unit costs are less if the job is part of a larger project, when the cost of plant higher and scaffolding can be shared between jobs. Above all, always be clear about what you're actually paying for. Does the price include VAT, scaffolding, carting away all rubbish, and cleaning up afterwards?

Renovating on a budget
A lot can be done without breaking the bank. If your kitchen is looking tired, it shouldn't cost much to just replace the unit doors or just paint them and is much cheaper than installing a totally new kitchen. If the units are in fairly good condition but not dated, just replace the doorknob saw handles. Fitting new taps can make a big difference. Another economical trick is to fit good solid worktops to existing units. All bathrooms and showers can be descaled and tiles re-grouted for next to nothing.
With a smallish your budget you can work wonders simply with a spot of redecoration and brightening up your rooms with some new lighting. Having a skylight can also lead to transform a dingy room by creating a light and airy interior. With a larger budget refitting kitchens and bathrooms or changing the layouts can transform a property, as can a well designed Conservatory.

Minimising VAT
There are a number of situations where reduced VAT can apply to residential properties. Perhaps the most obvious exemption is where you employ individuals or small firms with a lower annual turnover below the VAT threshold since they are quite legitimately not required to charge VAT. But your builder will still have to pay VAT on materials and plant hired, and this cost will be passed on to you.
Where you are charged VAT, always check the necessary VAT number is shown on the invoice.
Another useful saving can be legitimately made where you are renovating a residential property that has been left empty for at least two years, since it will be eligible for a reduced VAT rate of 5%. Better still, the property is empty for more than 10 years there is no VAT i.e. the full amount should be recoverable.

If you want to have a chat about your project to see if I can help, just get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.