If I had a dollar for every time I thought that sentence in the past 12 months, it would have paid for our renovation! But it was kind of fun. Well a lot fun. There were tears, dollars spent (and sometimes wasted) and heated debates on whether to go with plan A or plan B.

Whether you’re considering starting a reno or dreaming of becoming a property-renovation master, the process has a lot of similarities with getting a financial plan in place.

Here’s how my partner Luke and I managed our first-time renovation (that implies were doing more because yes #addicted) whilst not entirely breaking the bank or Sam‘s heart.

Deciding to get our hands dirty

After enjoying that first-home purchase elation, we quickly felt a little deflated after writing out a to-do list of little updates we would like to make to the place.

Deciding to compromise, we sent half of the list to a handyman to quote the work for us. You can imagine our surprise when the little updates came back costing close to $10k! For basically some painting and fixes here and there. Say what now?

This is what prompted us to tackle it ourselves. Luke’s job allowed him to have days at home to do work, whilst my retired dad also wanted to chip in. Free labour – yay! Let’s bring out the big list again.

Creating the plan

We took the to-do list and chucked it into an excel spreadsheet (Sam was very happy with this) so we could budget every step and track all expenses. Everything from nails to timber to new taps to Bunnings sausages. It all went in the spreadsheet.

Now I’m not going to lie, the total at the bottom quickly escalated. Of course, you need to add 10-20% on the end that you’re guaranteed to go over budget, so this step was a bit scary. However, information and honesty are power and having this spreadsheet as our go-to at every stage made decision points much easier.

Conversations such as “Luke, stop buying so many Bunnings snags, we need to buy a new sink” were much easier to have.

The double benefit of this spreadsheet is that now our property is an investment property, we can pass on information easily to our accountant as required #nerdlife

Executing the plan

We made the decision to undertake the majority of labour ourselves – we hired only an electrician and plumber. This was an exceptional cost saving, honestly, we probably saved close to $30,000 on this alone. However, what you save in dollars you spend in time.

Time at Bunnings, time googling shower options, time you tubing how to pave a path. Time changing your mind, discussing option A then option B, time then implementing option C.

Be prepared that your time frames, like your budget, will definitely blow out and at times it can be challenging to keep the momentum and endurance in the project.

Decide your roles so you’re kept accountable

Like with a good financial plan, you need someone keeping you accountable along the way. Early on we established our roles – my dad was our technical source of knowledge, Luke was our peace-keeper and “go in and get sh*t done” guy and I was the financial and time-frames boss.

Is it hard to tell your dad and significant other to work faster? Yes. Is it kinda awkward to make them return a shower piece that cost too much above budget? Yes.

But is it necessary? In our case it was. Be prepared for the communication that needs to happen between all key reno parties.

If you don’t disagree at times and fight over the radio station choice, did you even reno?

Deciding to undertake a renovation was one of the funnest choices we made in the last year and we certainly reaped the rewards at the end.

Tune in next week to see the final outcome, what we won’t do next time and how you can fit #renolife into your financial plan.

Cat Jansen

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