How to plan a budget for your kitchen or bathroom renovation

how to plan a budget

Do you need help figuring out where to start when planning a budget? Hopefully, not for long. We love talking about budgets here at Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms! It is not the sexiest of topics we know and money can be a tricky subject. However, if something is difficult to discuss, it usually means it is important.

Over the years, we’ve run many articles about renovation costs. And today, with help from KBB journo Sally Smith, we are going to the very beginning and looking at how to plan your budget.

Computer on office desk with a budget spreadsheet

So let’s talk about what you need to think about before you even start looking at the numbers. Whether it’s a complete property rebuild or a minor bathroom refresh, there will be a list of costs to account for at every stage of the project.

“You have to be realistic about what you want and what you can afford from the start,” explains Natalie Davies of Natalie Davies Interiors. “Before you do anything else, sit down and write a list or create a spreadsheet of what needs doing and an estimated cost of each part of the project – from building work to the little details.”

List every element of the project, right down to how many kitchen handles you need and which style you’d like. This is essential to help avoid extra and unnecessary expenses. Remember that old cliche: fail to plan, plan to fail. Think about every detail to avoid any horrible surprises.

You should get a rough idea by researching average costs online, for example by looking at products you like. Look up some basic quotes of labour costs and any kitchen or bathroom designers you may need. However, remember that all these costs are very rough and will depend on the size of your project.

Once you have a rough idea of what you have to spend, you can now begin to contact potential trades.

Money, money, money

Once you’ve done a rough idea of your costings you need to look at your financial situation. Work out how are you going to fund the project. Do you need to remortgage to release equity, or have you saved up enough to do everything? Managing your money is as crucial as picking out the products or managing your team when they start the work. Before you start making any plans, take a long hard look at your bank account, credit cards and savings accounts. Ask yourself if this is the right time to invest in your home.

Have you got enough for the all-important 15%-20% contingency? As carefully as you budget, expect to pay more than you’d planned. It’s better to pad out the financial plan and be pleasantly surprised at the end than be under and start to panic. So, always stick to your budget but factor in there will be other costs when working on big projects.

And do you need to prioritise some jobs over others? You don’t want to get started on a project only to realise you can’t afford it halfway through – so be brutally honest with yourself.

No matter the size of project we always recommend getting at least three quotes – and remember to dissect each of them thoroughly. This way, you’ll get a feel for realistic costs but can also be sure you won’t be over – or undercharged. 

Remember to ask questions if you’re not sure on everything. For building works, for instance, check and double check whether equipment hire such as skips and scaffolding are included as well as insurance, any demolition and disposal costs.

There may be additional costs to consider such as rent, if you need to move out for a few months. Think about this in advance and get an overview over the local rental market when you make your initial spreadsheet and are planning your budget.

Need versus want

And then, it’s all about honing in on not only what you want, but what you actually need – and what you can realistically afford. If you are planning a new kitchen as part of an extension, depending on the company you choose, this could be an additional cost to the builder’s quote. So again gather at least three quotes. Also shop around at your local independent retailers – does your kitchen designer offer a full renovation service or just the kitchen furniture? Does your bathroom designer also do installation or will you need a separate plumber?

Create a need and want list. Jot down all the things you have to include and then make a separate list of the additional things you would like. Perhaps put different options, like a certain must-have wishlist product, on the want list. But keep a cheaper alternative on the need list.

So, look at each carefully. For example, do you really need the large range cooker, or would an induction hob do the job? Is a bank of ovens necessary, or would you only use them once in a blue moon?

Also look at materials and functionalities, as these can increase the price tag considerably. If you won’t use smart home functions, choose other appliances without them. Think about what you need as the home owner and what you are realistically going to use. We all want to be that person who makes everything from scratch, but does that fit in with your lifestyle?

Also don’t be afraid to have a close look around, before committing to a purchase. Shop the market for the most competitive price and best quality. The whole renovation process takes a long time, so don’t skip on a few weeks of searching around for what it right for you. Look at the price, quality and reviews, so you are getting the best service for your budget plan.

Big purchases and small details

When renovating, you need to look at the big costs as well as at the little extras. So examine your current space and note down everything that needs to be changed and cost this up. Even the small details, like the trims and door handles, might have to be replaced. Little things can add up, so don’t forget anything.

Also reuse and recycle where you can. Using what you have obviously saves on costs. Your dishwasher may be only one-year-old compared to your five-year-old oven. It feels good to have brand new products, but is that the best plan?

There will be a point in your research where everything might feel overwhelming. At that point, don’t panic. Remember these are rough estimations and you are only planning your budget not committing to the prices yet. There is a lot to think about, but it will all depend on your space.

The cost of a kitchen will depend on how much space you have for the cabinets, plus your choice of appliances and worktops. Bathroom costs will be dependent on the plumbing, whether you want a wetroom, what surfaces you choose, as well as the quality and design of the main brassware and sanitaryware. Remember to look into any building work such as extension costs like loft conversions or expanding the footprint of your home.

Fixtures and fittings, such as sockets, switches and lighting, need to be included in your budget because they can easily rack up the cost of a project. Especially if you want something beyond the standard white plastic design.

“Decoration, window dressings and furniture are often forgotten when budgeting,” adds Natalie. You reach the end of the build only to realise there’s no money left in the pot to finish off. And this is why it’s so important to have an inventory of everything you will need.

So, by keeping everything above in mind, doing your research and allowing yourself enough time, we hope you are now well prepared to start planning your budget. Good luck!

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