In these difficult financial times all of us are looking at ways of saving money or making our money stretch further and it’s no different when carrying out renovation work on our homes. Any building job isn’t cheap as its very nature means that you are buying materials, paying for labour and investing a lot of your own time in all the decisions that are needed to design and build a space.
To reduce the costs on any building job takes a huge amount of preparation and ruthless decision making on your part as it is all about how set up and structure the project. There may also be an element of you taking on more risk. No matter how large or small your project is there are a few simple, but effective things you can do.
But, before getting into the finer detail, it is important to point out that it is the scale of a project that will determine whether you are actually going to be able to save money. If you are embarking on a large build be realistic about how much you can actually take on yourself. If you are too inexperienced and over ambitious it can really backfire on you with expensive consequences so be very, very careful. But, on the flip side of this there is no point in paying someone else to do a job you might have the confidence to have a go at yourself, so trying to cost save is all about finding the right balance of what you can and can’t do.
So let’s look at this one step at a time starting with the early stages of a design and build job. Making all of the design decisions yourself about how you want a space to work and what finishes you would like to specify can save you a large amount of money on professional fees, but the reality is on some projects you may need the input of a professional to get you planning permission and building regulation consents. As an architect I’m also slightly biased as I think the value added, not only to the economic value of a space, but also the value added to your everyday quality of life is something well worth paying for and shouldn’t really be compromised on. Generally, the best projects are where a good client collaborates with a talented design professional. On very small projects you can certainly do the majority of the design yourself, simply pick up a pen and have a go.
Project management is certainly an area where you can save money. If you are a really well organised person and can put together a good building team, specify and order materials as well as keeping a tight control of the money, then why not do this yourself? Again, on smaller projects this is a relatively easy thing to do, but on larger projects it really is a false economy.
Then there is the build. If you can turn your hand to any part of the build, whether it’s being a labourer, digging the trenches for the foundations, laying bricks, plaster or painting and decorating then for you to do the work rather than paying for someone else to do it is going to reduce your daily spend. But, and this is a big but… if you really can’t do it yourself then pay someone to do a proper job for you. You are better off getting yourself to work to earn the money to pay the skilled tradesman rather than doing a certain task badly, on the cheap and then having to redo it all again in just a few years time. It really isn’t worth the headache and it’s important to take the long view and get better value for your hard-earned money.
The final way to save money is to do a deal. Whatever you’re doing on a build there is always a deal to be had to get the best possible price for a product, material or service. eBay really has transformed the self-build industry as there are so many ways of recycling and re-using existing products and materials in an inventive way and even having your own account with a builder’s merchants means you will qualify for good discounts on all the new materials you need. Again, don’t compromise too much as you are constantly trying to juggle affordability, with good value for money on a quality item or service.
However, there really isn’t any point in compromising too much to the point where you have saved a lot of money, but the finished project is disappointing and sub-standard. The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true in the building game!
For more tips and advice from George, check out his website at www.georgeclarke.com