Budget or more accurately the fear of blowing it, is the #1 concern homeowners have when they are considering embarking on a journey toward their dream home.

The first thing most people ask when they are thinking of renovating is ‘how much will it cost closely followed by “Can i even afford it ‘ and i really don’t want to blow my budget or not be able to afford all the fun stuff at the end that i’ve been about for what seem like FOREVER. 

The best way to stay on track and on budget during your renovation project is to get great advice and the right information right at the start of your journey.

Follow our 12 rules and  take control of your budget and your project right from the start rather than your budget controlling you.

Doing this will help you make great decisions, stay focused on the end gola and take control and stay on track so you get the most bang for your buck and confidently naviagte your reno journey….minus the stress and overwhelm… and have money left in the bank for the fun stuff you’ve been ‘pinning’ and dreaming of for years.

Architect, Building Designer or Draughtsman

PHOTO CREDIT Architect: Modscape  Photographs: John Madden

Rule #1


If you don’t know where you’re going you might end up somewhere else.  This is the place you need to start to have a successful renovation. What do you want and why are you doing this and what does success mean for you and your family?

PHOTO CREDIT Architect: Modscape  Photographs: John Madden

Rule #2

Make A Budget & Stick To It

It’s really important you’re upfront about how much you have to spend. There’s a misconception that it’s a bad idea to tell an architect or builder what your budget is. This is absolutely not the case; in fact, without knowing how much you have to spend, it’s impossible for them to advise you appropriately.

PHOTO CREDIT Photo by Steven Ungermann

Rule #3

Find the Best Pathway

Every project & budget is unique, and there are lots of ways you can solve your specific renovation problem. Considering all the options available to you and making wise decisions to find the best most cost effective path will save you money.

Rule #4

Get great ( and the right) advice

Before you start, it’s really worth asking for some advice about how best to allocate your budget. Do, however, make sure it’s from someone who’s impartial, as family and friends may be too emotionally invested to help you make objective decisions.

A Designer, for instance, will advise clients where best to invest in their homes and should always aim to suggest ways to save money and keep the job within budget.

Alternatively, builder will  be able to give you advice on the cost of what you’re planning to do.

Whether it’s poor quality work, overcharging or bad communication, the repercussions of having a dodgy builder or tradie can last for years.

PHOTO CREDIT Architect: Modscape  Photographs: John Madden

Rule #5

Get Multiple Costings

Most homeowners wait until their plans are finalised and they have all their approvals done before getting any costing advice other than anecdotal.

Cost is a progression so to stay in control and be in a position to adjust as you go you need to get multiple costings along the way. Cost control comes from having the most accurate up to date information you can get.

Modern Bathroom Renovation

Rule #6

Have A Contingency Sum

Once you have a firm idea of what your budget is, you’ll need to set aside a contingency fund for any unexpected extra costs. Building projects, and particularly renovation projects  can often run up against problems that are impossible to predict from the outset. By planning for this at the beginning, you’ll ensure that any nasty surprises don’t eat into your overall budget.

Don’t miss this one… or let it leak away on other things…

Rule #7

Sort Out The Paperwork

Many renovation horror stories are linked to bad agreements, contracts, and poor project documentation.   Leaving homeowners locked into agreements they can’t get out of or one’s that don’t cover them if things go pear shaped. So don’t ignore the paperwork. Ticking the boxes here will help you control your risk and the risk of blowouts and stress.

Modern Light Filled Kitchen

Rule #8


It’s important you have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t included in your builder’s quote and then the Contract SUm.Lots of PS (provisional sums) and PC (Prime Cost figures) is a red flag that you should avoid as it inevitably means the fixed sum you think you have isn’t. might be up for costs. The provisional cost, also called a PC sum, refers to the estimated cost of something that the builder cant price or assumes the client will supply..

Rule #9


Your Budget is not and shouldn’t be a ‘set and forget’ thing. Remember you are creating this budget (and sticking to it) so you get the best possible outcome for your project. One of the keys to staying on track with your budget is to, well keep track of it. When you can see all of your numbers right in front of you, you’re much less likely to blow your renovation budget.

Rule #10


Changes made when your project is still on paper is far cheaper than when construction begins.

So Since your project is underway, Be careful about making changes or last-minute additions. These will be things the builder hasn’t priced for and will add up quickly to put you over budget.

So take the time to plan carefully at the outset of your project to ensure you’re happy with and committed to the decisions you make.

Rule #11


Frequently some costs aren’t considered or are overlooked, which could result in your budget being too low. 

There are more costs than just the cost of construction. Make sure you have included all the costs associated with the renovation of your home.

Blowouts happen because homeowner don’t know about or don’t allow for everything leaving them open to unexpected costs

PHOTO CREDIT Architect: Modscape  Photographs: John Madden

Rule #12

Don't choose your builder on price alone

Don’t assume the building quotes includes everything you think it does and that the builders have quoted on the same scope of work, level of finishes, inclusions, and quality of work. 

You need to dig deeper, ask questions and try compare them – ‘apples for apples’ 

Be prepared to pay a fair price to the builder for your project; you generally get what you pay for.

I hope you’ve found this post interesting.

Leave a comment, we love to hear from you.

Until next time….stop dreaming and start planning…


While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, The Zen Reno does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. It is for information purposes only and expert advice should be sought regarding how this issue might affect your particular project.

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