How to save money on a home renovation as inflation hits

The warnings hit close to home for owners facing cost blowouts. Residential construction costs increased by 11 per cent over the 12 months to September, CoreLogic’s Cordell Construction Cost Index for the September quarter, released on Friday, showed.

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Over the September quarter, construction costs rose 4.7 per cent, the largest increase on record excluding the September 2000 quarter when the GST was introduced.

Sydney Builders Group managing director Ashley Agostino said it may be worthwhile to engage specialists if homeowners are undertaking major renovations.

“One of the biggest things we find is a lot of clients don’t want to pay professionals, like hydraulic engineers and building specialists. Having those specialists upfront will minimize surprises in the middle of a renovation,” Agostino said.

For minor renovations, leaving existing plumbing, choosing cheaper materials and reusing parts of the home, such as doors, that are still in good condition will save homeowners money too, she said.

“Switch up materials, you don’t have to go with the tiles that are $100 per square meter. No one will know it’s from Italy,” she said.

“If they don’t want to incur costs, don’t move the plumbing. As soon as you touch plumbing, costs rise.”

Sydney-based builder Simon Pilcher, of CE Pilcher and Son, said fixtures and finishes were typical culprits of budget blowouts, especially in the current inflationary environment.

“Now with the increased price in materials, you’ve got to make sure you pick materials to your budget. That’s where you can save some money,” Pilcher said.

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“The sooner you can lock in fixed prices for the materials the better. The price of concrete, everything is going up. The sooner you lock it in with your supplier the better.”

He also said that it was crucial that the designer, builder and homeowner were on the same page when it comes to budget at the outset and along the way.

“Having a good working relationship with your builder, having weekly meetings, keeping abreast on the job, so if any difficulties arise you can get onto them quickly,” Pilcher said.

“It’s important now that with things getting more expensive, labor and materials everyone is on the one page, working together.”

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