Brisbane couple Roisin and Zac bought their first home in 2018. New to renovating, they made their Geebungalow Instagram account to keep family and friends updated on their home improvements – and caught the attention of budding renovators across Australia. Fast forward to today, the couple has amassed more than 50,000 followers, and are working on their second renovation project in Toowoomba – not bad for a couple of first-timers!
We’ve teamed up with Roisin and Zac to find out how they budgeted for a home renovation as first home buyers.
Since we bought our first home five years ago, we’ve been slowly renovating bit by bit and these are some of the tips we’ve learnt to try and manage our budget.
1. Get at least three quotes for work.
We’ve found the best way to go about budgeting for renovations is to lock in your designs for a space, and then get at least three quotes. Different trades can vary greatly in price so it’s good to get an idea of what the market rate is for a particular job. This way you’ll know you aren’t overpaying, and it will raise any red flags if one company is significantly cheaper than the rest.
When going through the quoting process, ask for an itemised quote to ensure you’re comparing apples with apples. For example, one quote for a bathroom may come in $2,000 cheaper, but on closer inspection you might notice this doesn’t include any demolition work of your old bathroom.
2. Work with trades to determine your budget, and how to use it effectively.
When we first started renovating, we would say things like, ‘We have saved $10,000 so this is how much we have to spend on our bathroom.’ Unfortunately, this isn’t the best way to budget as it doesn’t consider the accurate costs of everything, and it might mean you aren’t able to achieve the bathroom you had planned for.
Most trades are willing to work with you and your budget, and can make adjustments accordingly. This could mean changing the materials you're using or adjusting the complexity of the work.
For example, an intricate tile pattern like herringbone is going to take a lot longer, and subsequently cost a lot more than something simple like a subway pattern. Figure out what you might be willing to compromise on to make your budget stretch further!
3. Stretch your budget with DIY and sell what you don’t need.
When you’re renovating, there are a few things you can do yourself that will save you a lot of money! The main ones for us have been painting and demolition – as long as there are no hazardous materials like asbestos to be mindful of.
Also, when you’re doing any demolition, or removing items from an old house, see what you could sell second-hand to make some spare cash! We’ve sold old light fittings, window awnings, doors, and plenty more on sites like Facebook marketplace, putting the money we made back into new items for the house.
4. Create clear savings goals to make your money work for you.
Although renovating a property is a great investment, we made sure to leave room in our budget to still enjoy our life outside of our home improvements. We found setting aside some spending money for things like eating out or a new outfit here and there actually made our savings goals seem a lot more achievable.
We put our savings into a high interest savings account. Many similar accounts have minimum deposit amounts and require you to not withdraw anything. This was great motivator for our savings goals!
5. Use equity to fund your renovations.
Using the equity in your home is the process of having the value of your home reviewed and borrowing more money from the bank. It’s important to remember this is still a loan that needs to be repaid, so worth using if renovations will be adding significant value to your home. We also made sure we always hold at least 20% equity in our home – also known as 80% Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) – to avoid paying Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Talk to your banker to understand what options are available to you.
If you’d like more useful advice on home improvements, or want to follow Roisin and Zac’s renovation journey, you can follow Geebungalow on Instagram!
Ready to make some home improvements?
Our Renovation Hub has all the helpful tricks and tips for you to successfully fund your renovation.