Building & Renovating

6 Ways to Save Money During Renovation

Achieve your dream haven without overspending

Original Article: Amillah S. Rodil Photography: Cafaro and Simon Hansen (Main Photos)

It's safe to say that having a sufficient budget is the number one consideration when it comes to home improvement projects. Opting for a mini makeover or a major renovation entails a lot of tasks, but it all stems from the amount of money you have on hand. If you're in the early stages of a home project, we're sure you're always on the lookout for ways on how to spend the budget wisely while avoiding extra costs. Stick to the amount you have by taking note of these tips from the experts:

1. Prepare for all costs and plan ahead.

Before starting with the project, make sure you and the design professional inspect the house or the area you intend to renovate. Check the tightest of corners and the nitty-gritty—this is an extra effort that pays in the long run as you can detect defects earlier instead of finding out later in the renovation phase.

2. Finalize what you want and make sure you plan it well.

Are you working on a complete room overhaul? Take note of the major details like the door location, room configuration, plumbing details, and electrical outlets, to name a few. Discuss the changes and your plans with a professional—especially if you are working on structural, electrical, or plumbing work.

RL Tip: Having a general look in mind helps as well. Are you going for a certain theme? Do you plan to add an island in the kitchen? Cover all bases and go through the list with a pro.

3. Work with a clear contract.

Sometimes, contractors ask for change orders on items you thought were included in the final cost. Before you begin any work, make sure the contract and plan clearly state the scope of work and a timeline. This contract can be a basis for future negotiations.

4. Know and understand the cost before making changes during the construction process.

It's important that you are hands on during the whole process so you can monitor the materials used and how much each costs. Doing so can give you a rough estimate of the running budget as well as track where the huge chunk of it goes. Remember to be careful when dealing with laborers, too. Extra instructions may have implications on the cost and it is best discussed with your contractor first.

5. Make sure the project is managed properly.

Having a point person is important so one can oversee the progress of the project. The renovation process must be supervised by the architect or engineer at least three times a week. If he or she can go to the site at least once a day, that would be better. Set regular meetings with the designer and contractor so you can check on running expenses, changes made, and other important details.

6. Prepare a contingency budget.

As with any other project, delays and setbacks are sometimes inevitable. To cover for any unexpected changes and events during the renovation, make sure you set aside around 10 to 15% of the total cost. Making an allowance and having extra cash can help you manage additional costs that may come up.

This snippet originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

More on

5 Reasons Why Renovating Costs Go Up

Renovation 101: Helpful Reminders and Tips

Renovation 101: Budget Allocation


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