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5 hidden costs of renovating


What to avoid so you don’t blow your reno budget.

Deciding to renovate is an exciting time and it’s easy to get swept up imagining what your new home will look like after the project’s done and dusted. However, it’s essential to have a financial plan in place, understand all the costs from the start and allow a buffer in your budget for any contingencies.

Here are just five hidden costs that can arise during any renovation that you should consider before getting started!

Hidden cost 1: Fees you weren’t expecting

Depending on the size of your reno, you may come across a range of fees and costs that can significantly eat into your budget. Council fees, DA approvals, dilapidation reports, footpath deposits (if your reno is going to take over the footpath for a length of time), skips for rubbish disposal, construction certificate fees and of course the costs of engaging an architect may all need to be factored in. And don’t forget to consider costs for all the fittings and fixtures, new appliances, paint and other bits and pieces. It all adds up!

Hidden cost 2: Not choosing the right finance

Locking in the right finance for your renovation is hugely important. The last thing you want to do is run out of money mid-reno and need to approach your lender for extra funds in order to finish the project. It’s a great deal harder to do this during the build, which is why costing your project so carefully is key. Talk to your lender about the options available – whether that’s to re-structure your existing loan to free up some cash, use redraw funds already in your mortgage, or opt for a line of credit. Options like paying via credit card or personal loan can incur much higher rates of interest.

Hidden cost 3: Changing your mind mid-renovation

You may tell your builder to just knock one wall down, only to decide mid-build that the final result would be so much better if you actually knocked two other walls down and added French doors at the back of the house. That’s fine, but those changes you’ve made are known as ‘variations’ to the original scope, and need to be accounted for in your budget. Always ask the builder what things might cost as some variations can run into the tens of thousands and you might not get the final bill until the end of the project.

Hidden cost 4: Unexpected issues and problems

You may assume your renovation is going to be straightforward, bang on budget and be completed on time. But as any seasoned renovators knows, things rarely go to plan. You might pull up floorboards and find white ants, you might rip tiles off the bathroom and find an expensive rising damp problem that needs fixing. Similarly, building materials and bad weather can all cause delays and cost money. That’s why experts say it’s a good idea to factor in an extra 20% for variations and contingencies.

Hidden cost 5. Thinking you can live on site

Again, if you’ve never renovated before, you probably can’t comprehend just how dusty, noisy and inconvenient it’ll be for you or your family to stay on-site. Plus, you’ll be slowing down the builder and tradies who will find it a lot quicker and easier to make decisions and get on with the job if you’re not living on site the whole time. So you’ll need to factor in accommodation costs for the duration, plus storage costs for your belongings and boarding costs for any pets you can’t take with you.


Meticulous planning, organisation and being as financially prepared as possible are essential before embarking on a renovation. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for any grants that might help cut costs along the way.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication.

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