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Caro's tips for staying on budget

Caro and Kingi stole Australian hearts fromThe Block in season 5. Today, they're ambassadors for Renovator Store, and Caro's dropped by our blog to give our readers all her budget advice!

caro the block

Like most Australian’s we sat in our lounge room and watched the hit TV series The Block and thought we can do that! We took the chance, applied and the rest is history. Now when going on a National TV show of course it’s only natural to have some concerns about what people will think of you. After watching many sessions of The Block there’s always that hopeless couple that blows the budget! I was adamant this wouldn’t be us, until my wondering husband spent $1500 out of our $3000 room make over budget on a feature timber wall!! Lucky Scotty Cam was there to help us out and pay our trades for their hard work.

After this first 24 hour challenge I pulled my wonderful husband Kingi aside and had a word to him...“You are not allow to buy another thing for the entire renovation!” and from this day on I was crowned 'The Budget Queen' of The Block.

[caption id="attachment_12824" align="aligncenter" width="494"]caro and kingi auction Auction day! Caro and Kingi before their auction on The Block.[/caption]

Before you start knocking down structural walls there are plenty of ways to give your place a Moet makeover on a VB Budget.  The first thing you need to work out is this renovation going to be a structural or cosmetic makeover? Once you have this decided you also need to avoid overcapitalising, an important rule of thumb is to never spend more than 10% of your properties current value on the work.

Before you pick out any paint colours or tile choices the first and most important thing you need to do is setting a realistic budget. 5% of the purchase price is a good guide. If this is your first renovation, like most of our fellow Block contestants, budgets can easily spiral out of control. Begin by talking to tradesmen and getting as many quotes as possible. Always ask for a quote including materials, labour and GST! I have found so many trades don’t quote their GST and then send you the invoice WITH GST and this can add unexpected costs to your renovation due to lack of experience! So learn from me, doing your homework before you start will ensure your budget won’t blow up!

With any renovation its likely there will be some demolition involved. It could be one whole end of the house being removed or just an internal wall or two selectively removed. Either way, demolition is labour intensive and costly! While you’re not likely to be able to eliminate all demolition, you should be trying to design your project in a way that minimises the extent of demolition required. By minimising demolition, you will not only save on the high costs of dismantling the home, but you will also avoid many of the “Bolt on” costs of demolition, such as repair and make-good work, and the ultimate budget killer, structural changes! That isn’t to say that demolition should be avoided at all costs. In some circumstances the removal of an internal wall maybe what makes the whole project work. If demolition creates a significantly better result, then you will be left with no option. But again get a quote before you start.

[caption id="attachment_13062" align="aligncenter" width="625"]Caro and Kingi unpack items from Renovator Store, in the midst of their own home renovation Caro and Kingi unpack items from Renovator Store, in the midst of their own home renovation[/caption]

Research online for everything, from materials to trades, from fixtures and downlights you can get just about everything online. When speaking with trades and getting quotes ask for a discount if you decide to use them for the whole renovation. Don’t be afraid to ask! The old saying goes “If you don’t ask the answer will always be no!” Also when getting quotes off trades ask for a quote for the whole job, you don’t want to be paying an hourly rate as this can throw your budget out the window! And keep them to this quote!


Caro’s Top Budget Tips!

caro and kingi the block

Start with the end in mind.

  • Do a ‘Mud Map’ of: What has to be done, what needs to be done, and what you would like done but subject to budget.

Set the budget.

  • Are you renovating to sell? Or is this your forever home? Remember you don’t want to overcapitalise.

  • Get as many quotes as possible and take your time to plan correctly before you start. Making quick decisions can cost you at the end and really throw your budget through the roof.

  • Make sure your trade quotes include everything, materials, labour and GST. Also ask for them to quote for the whole job not just by the hour. You can’t control how long the job will take so this is really like a blank Cheque and you don’t want this!

Use the ‘Power of Paint

  • Stay neutral, buy good quality paint and use no more than two colours.

DIY what you can

  • Doing as much as you can will always save you money.

  • If the job doesn’t require a skill or trade and just needs a bit of elbow grease then get stuck into it!

  • Attend DIY classes at your local hardware stores.

[caption id="attachment_13064" align="aligncenter" width="683"]caro and kingi Caro in her brand new laundry. Spot the SWEDIA tap and sink combination? Exclusive to Renovator Store![/caption]

Research online everything

  • Prices – don’t bother with websites that have no prices.  If they’re not proud of their price then it’s likely to be a waste of your time

  • In stock – make sure the business actually stocks products.  Many websites are not product companies.  They are just selling products from other companies - and that means they probably don’t really stand behind the products they sell.  Check they have stock and it’s in Australia ready to despatch.

  • Service – all the info you need to buy should be on the screen.  And you should be able to call the company and discuss the products.  If not, then move on

  • Shipping – look for free or reasonable shipping costs.  Some websites try to profit from shipping while others offer it for free

  • Easy Returns – look for a generous returns policy.  You want to be able to touch and feel the product and return it for any reason

  • Quality – unfortunately there are a lot of bargain basement type sellers with low quality or non-compliant products.  If it looks too cheap then it probably a waste of your time

  • Reviews – look for online stores that use a third party review platform so you can read what other customers think.