Working within a tight budget is an important skill for renovators to learn. After all, the more you spend, the less profit you will make. It’s a fine balancing act.
Too often, when renovators are revamping an investment property or working on a property they have bought with the intention of renovating and selling, they take sticking to the budget a step too far.
It’s easy to lose sight of the end goal – creating a space your market will love. A few small tweaks can make the world of difference, and you don’t have to make a significant dent in your renovating budget.
Sometimes you can take shortcuts, and they work out well. However, most of the time, especially when it comes to important structural elements, it pays to do it the right way, even if it means spending more money.
The following example comes from a member of our community who reached out to Bernadette for her advice on fixing a tiled floor.
A Question From Our Community: What’s The Most Cost-Effective Way To Fix A Tiled Floor
Liz sent the following email to Bernadette:
I’m tearing my hair out trying to find the cheapest and most cost-effective option for fixing approximately 40 square meters of tiles. Some tiles are cracked, and small areas underneath the tiles move a bit when jumping on them. I have sought out tilers to no avail. In fact, I came close to being scammed by two.
Vinyl flooring planks on top of the existing floor seem to be the best option, especially if there’s been movement in the house previously. The tilers are saying it’s not possible to quote without lifting the tiles to see how bad the moving floor is underneath.
Some said it’s possible without removing all the tiles, which we want to avoid as the tenants wish to stay whilst works are going on. I Don’t know what to do. Bernadette, do you have any expert suggestions?”
In response to Liz’s query, Bernadette says that it is going to be best to take up the existing tiles because anything that is laid over that floor will not last if the floor is disintegrating underneath.
I would be investigating why the floor is not sound because that may speak to a bigger problem.”
~ Bernadette Janson
There is an option of laying a floating floor over the existing tiles. However, the floor would need to be levelled before that can be done. It won’t be a cheap option, though, especially if you want a good finish.
Liz went on to say:
I would like to keep the house for at least the next three years, hoping the market will pick up. It’s in Beaumont, in Victoria.
The tenants are nice enough people but the worst home keepers. They want to stay but can’t meet the increased rent. If they move, I’ll be in for a fortune to clean up and paint the whole place.”
Bernadette feels that if the tenants are not capable of paying a decent rent, Liz will be better off with them leaving. After all, it’s a landlords’ market at the moment, and rental properties are in short supply. If Liz has a good property that is well-presented and maintained, then she could potentially significantly increase the rent.
If the tenants have damaged the property, they will need to contribute to the restoration of the house. A full assessment of the situation should be done with the managing agent to determine Liz’s rental potential.
Bernadette pointed out that the house will have to be painted and repaired at some point, so she suggests that Liz bite the bullet and get it done. If she can make the house over nicely, she can improve her return on investment and make it more attractive when it comes time to sell.
10 Ways To Make Your Renovation Look More Professional On A Budget
Liz’s situation is a good example of what can happen if you cut too many corners. When it comes to structural issues, they must always be attended to appropriately to ensure the integrity of the property.
However, we want to share with you ten things you can do to make your renovation look more professional without breaking the bank.
#1 Stay Away From 600 by 300 White Wall Tiles
Bernadette finds standard 500 by 300 white wall tiles offensive. They are used a lot because they are the cheapest tile you can buy, but they scream rental.
There is a blueprint for a renter’s bathrooms: 600 by 300 white tile, the cheapest, nastiest vanity you can get, with an acrylic top. No flare at all.”
~ Bernadette Janson
All renovators are on a tight budget. However, if you shop around, you can buy other tiles for a similar price. Without spending a fortune, a more interesting tile can give the room a bit of pizzazz.
Alternatively, if you must use the typical 600 by 300 white tile, try to add flare in other ways. For example, you could spend an extra hundred dollars on your vanity base and put an attractive vanity in.
#2 Avoid Installing A White Gloss Kitchen
Another giveaway that you have renovated your property with the intention of renting it out or flipping it is a white gloss kitchen. It may be the only kitchen you can buy off the shelf at suppliers such as Bunnings, but it often doesn’t cost much more to design a kitchen that is slightly different.
If you choose to install a white gloss kitchen, you can make it more interesting by using different overhead cabinets. For example, you could use timber grain to change the look and feel of your kitchen. Gloss is easy to keep clean, but full gloss kitchens are a bit dated.
Another affordable option is to look for a secondhand kitchen. Many people throw out perfectly good kitchens when they renovate and sell them on sites such as Facebook Marketplace.
You can find a really good quality secondhand kitchen that may even be cheaper than your white gloss kitchen.”
~ Bernadette Janson
#3 Choose Your Mirrors Wisely
Mirrors are an inexpensive way to add flare to a home. However, direct stick mirrors can make a room look cheap. You can change their appearance by placing some packers behind them to lift them off the wall. Even 20 millimetres makes a difference, and you can add extra flare by adding a strip of LED lights behind them.
A simple stick-on mirror with a frame also looks better than sticking a plain mirror on the wall, making your renovation look more polished.
#4 Keep Your Bench Heights Standard
While customising your kitchen benches to suit your height makes the kitchen more comfortable for you to work in, it may make it useless to the next person who buys your house. It is always best to use standard bench heights in your kitchen.
Unless you have a disability and you must have personalised bench heights, ensure that you stick to the standard bench height. A kitchen is an expensive thing, and to limit its usefulness to a small sector of the population, I think, is a pretty indulgent thing to do.”
~ Bernadette Janson
#5 Use Longer Length Boards For Floating Floorboards
A floating floor can be an attractive feature in a home. However, it pays to use longer boards because short ones can make the floor look disjointed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hybrid, laminate, or engineered, use longer boards to create a more attractive finish.
Wide boards are also more attractive than narrow ones; however, the length is the most important thing to consider. Also, try to avoid a cushion edge on your floor as it tends to date the floor. Flush joints create a more modern look.
#6 Install Skirtings Instead Of Scotia On Floating Floors
If it is possible, avoid using scotia on your flooring. Bernadette prefers to install skirtings over the top of the floating floor to avoid the need for scotia. It can be a bit problematic around an island bench, but the installers can work around it by fitting the flooring snugly around the bench.
#7 Hide Unattractive Window Dressings
An attractive window dressing can change the entire appearance of a room. There are three things that can ruin your renovation design:
- Roller blinds on their own look stark and minimal. You can soften the look by adding some curtains.
- Timber or faux timber Venetian blinds that you buy off the shelf must be adjusted to fit the window. Paying attention to details, such as avoiding having the bottom of the blind always being pulled up, adds a professional finish to your project.
- Exposed curtain tracks look unfinished, even if you use a contracting colour. Our go-to way to overcome this problem is to hang the track from the ceiling and ensure that it blends in with the colour of the ceiling. If that’s not possible, a simple pelmet made from MDF can also help you create a more finished look.
#9 Tile Shower Floors
Bernadette is not a fan of acrylic shower bases and feels they have an amateurish look about them. Instead, ask your tiler to tile the shower floor to make your bathroom look more polished.
#10 Fake Green Walls Are Out
There was a time when fake green walls were all the rage, but that time has passed. They are dust traps, and they tend to fade in the sun. Use your creativity to find an attractive, more up-to-date way to screen a wall.
Conclusion: Small, Cost-Effective Details Can Lift The Quality Of Your Renovation
Bernadette admits to having included standard 600 by 300 white tiles, stick-on mirrors, and unfinished window treatments in her renovations at some point in her business. They have taught her what works and what is best avoided.
Her advice is based on experience. All of our tips are budget-friendly and can lift your renovation from cheap and nasty to top-quality to make your renovation look more professional.