Home renovations: spend versus save




Where should you spend and where should you save in your home renovation or build? A home reno is likely to be one of the more expensive investments you will make in life, so it’s important to be practical in your approach. Going in with a firm understanding of your budget, a carefully thought out plan and a realistic view of your long-term objectives for the property will help you to make the most of your money.

With opportunities to add value, create more comfortable daily living and give a stronger return on investment, where should you spend and where should you save?

Christal Fysentzous, renovation expert and founder of ZouBuild, shares her key insights on what to consider when planning your new build or home reno.


Invest in foundations: Research what products best suit your needs and invest in trusted brands for foundations like walls, floors, ceiling, electrical and plumbing. This adds an improved level of protection and value to the longevity of your property.

Spend on common values: Investing in aspects of your home that are most often seen as important or commonly used is both a smart and valuable decision. This includes timeless, quality benchtops, fixtures, fittings and tapware that won’t date, and specific living spaces, like rumpus rooms.

Lighten the mood: Access to natural light should never be compromised. Ideally, your first point of call in any renovation or build would be to maximise natural light available. This creates warmth, depth and space.

If you’re unable to alter your windows, you could look to update your doors. Swap traditional wooden doors for glass or French-style. This can make a hallway feel more open and brighten spaces.

Widening doorways will also increase light in a home. This can create more open-plan formats, which, when complemented by an oversized mirror, can help to disperse natural light.

Quality lighting features are also a must-spend. A chandelier or quality pendant light will add wow factor to any room.


Sort of do it yourself: While it is important you outsource the big jobs, one of the most effective ways to save money on a build or renovation is through doing things yourself.

While you may not be able to put up plasterboard or lay a tile, there are ways you can save time spent on paying tradies by the hour by preparing spaces in readiness for their arrival.

Demolish areas yourself, clean up, prep surfaces and paint.

Small cosmetic fixes: Cosmetic fixes are quick, easy and cost effective, and often one of the first things people notice in a home.

Rather than paying to re-do your entire kitchen, change the door handles and paint the cupboard doors. A bathroom can be transformed by simply updating the tapware and shower screen, and a living room refreshed with a few new cushions and a set of curtains to frame your windows.

“When flipping, you always need to keep the end buyer in mind, so it’s important to not put too much of your own personal style into design. I find it’s best to pare the aesthetic back to inspire the new owners to make it their own,” Christal says.

Source seconds, first: One of the biggest money savers on any renovation will be refurbishing the old or sourcing ex-demonstrator furniture, appliances and whitegoods.

Melamine wood from old flatpack furniture can be reused to build shelves or storage units, and chairs can be easily reupholstered to reflect new interiors.

Change the doors of cabinets instead of the framework.

Ask stores about floor stock, factory seconds and previous season styles. You can often get good discounts on items with small mistakes.


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