The Renovating Game: Modesty Vs Madness

I recently (one year ago) started renovating my first home, a 1950’s post war cottage in country Queensland, to which I have learnt an immense amount about a) the cost of renovating and the associated ‘unknowns’ that announce themselves mid-way through ripping apart a bathroom or tearing up 3 layers of lino; b) the time and planning involved in renovating with never ending trips to Mitre 10 and Bunnings – this could be largely due to the fact that I could live in either of these stores hence the amount of time spent there procrastinating; c) the importance of understanding how one area affects another – for example; air conditioners being disconnected from water sources and potentially causing thousands of dollars damage due to a minor error and of course d) did I mention the cost? This is all the fun of renovating/remodelling/revamping your little piece of paradise – something in which I find much joy and reward in and am happy to have worked hard for.

Thankfully, this gorgeous 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage is not a monstrosity that is draining me of hundreds of thousands of dollars to transform. I searched for the best part of 5 years before I bought my first home, assessing everything from suburbs to construction types and eventually settled on a property that I felt was worth the money I was laying down and in which I could have some fun doing something I had wanted to do for many years – renovate!

Many think I am mad for wanting to renovate, although for the ones that know me best understand there is a method to my madness. This being a mix of a love for design (I am currently completing my Diploma of Interior Technology and Design and a degree in Construction Management – 6 years in the making), watching something old or outdated be transformed into something new and exciting (I am a sucker for wanting to see things neglected be loved again – all animals under the sun included), enjoying the journey of transforming my home and gaining new knowledge on construction methods and processes that I can take with me into my future projects.


Modestly, I set out with a figure in mind that I would like to spend on major changes – I assessed the structural elements, plumbing, electrical and other major trade costs that I could work with to ensure that these costs could be kept to a minimum whilst making a substantial difference to the elements of the house that will help increase a profit when the time comes to sell. When the task of renovating is ahead of you, making these major costs a pivotal point of design, the layout and material selection, you can be assured to save a substantial amount which can be spent on the fun side of it, fittings, fixtures and everything to make your new space something you are going to be proud of.

Whilst every renovation is different, laced with individual difficulties and surprises, below is a rough guide to what you could expect to spend on a renovation for a small to medium sized 3 bedroom timber home:

Bathroom: $10,000 – we achieved a cost of around $7,000 by keeping the existing bathtub which was still in perfect condition and retaining all plumbing in its original location to avoid major plumbing costs.

Kitchen: $15,000 – $20,000 – kitchens can vary largely in price, as it will always depend on your final design, fixture and fitting selections and what you wish to retain from your existing kitchen design and layout. If your oven and cook top are still in great working order, consider keeping these items to avoid expenditure. Selling your existing kitchen is also a really great way to recoup some money to put towards your new chef’s workspace!

Flooring: $2,500 – $4,000 – depending on what type of flooring you wish to put down, you could be looking at a sizeable amount of money to get your floors looking schmick.

Our timber floors (approximately 40sqm2) cost $2,500 to have professionally sanded with a gloss coat. Alternatively if you have the time, you can prep the floorboards and hire a floor sander from your local Coates Hire or similar for around $200/day finishing off with your coat of choice.

Additional to this is carpet for the bedrooms at a cost off approximately $900 per room (material, underlay and installation costs.

Painting: $500 – $1,000 –  Painting, it can make you or break you! If you have the money, I would recommend hiring a professional to come in and do the work for you. It can be back breaking and if you are not happy with the end result, you will constantly be looking at it every time you walk into that room.

We painted our bathroom as it was a small area and learnt quickly that cheap paint is cheap paint and I won’t be using or recommending anything less than Dulux or Taubmans. You pay for what you get and this is one vital lesson learnt through renovating!

Renovating is more than just a lick of paint and some new carpet (anyone can do this – although props to you if you’ve managed to flip a property for some serious coin based on this). It is a labour of love for many, and unless you have it in your heart and sights to set out and make a renovation a worthy project, it shouldn’t be left for the faint hearted. Commitment is everything with projects and when there is a lot of time, love and money invested in a renovation, keeping you sanity in check is important. Asking for help where it is needed is also important and something that I take on board very seriously when it comes to professional work being done. Always, always, use a qualified tradesperson to complete work that you are a) not legally allowed to perform without a license or you don’t want to be seriously injured by or worse yet cause a fatality to yourself or anyone else because of your unqualified handyman work and b) if you are renovating for profit, allow the professionals to work their magic to ensure workmanship is of the highest quality and you are getting a product that looks like it is worthy of increasing the value of your property.

Happy renovating HtH x


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