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The Complete Home Maintenance Budget Guide

April 30th, 2019

Amazing! You’re thinking about buying or renovating a house. Owning your own home is part of the great Australian dream, and seeing any kind of personal project come to fruition can be a seriously satisfying experience.

Getting into the property market in Australia is a major achievement in itself these days. So, if you’ve managed to get there, it’s likely you’re going to be balancing mortgage repayments, legal fees, contract fees, transfer fees and council rates, alongside your home renovation and maintenance costs.

With this being said, it really pays to be prepared! These costs can cause quite a bit of financial stress, so it’s important that you make sure to plan correctly. If you’re wanting your home to stand the test of time, maintain its awesome investment status, and (above all) be a pleasant place for you to live, you need to think about your budgets for home renovations and ongoing maintenance costs.

Let’s take a look at how you can best manage your money to ensure your place (whether it’s your first or your fifth) will always be properly looked after.

Your home renovation budget

Working out the costs of renovating (and whether you can afford to renovate) can be a tricky business. If you’re a first home owner, it’s always best to avoid overcapitalising (basically, spending more money than you would get in return when selling) and taking risks, as this could leave you in a sticky financial situation.

For first timers, you should try to stick to not spending more than 5% of your home’s purchase price on renovations. If you execute your renovation well, it could add up to 10% to the property value of your home, particularly if you own it for an extended period of time.

That being said, it’s important to create a renovation budget and do your best to stick to it like glue. Let’s take a look at how you can do this.

1. Divide items into the ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’

Take a really good look at what the scope of your project should be before you begin. Make a list of the renovation aspects that would be nice to have (a newly landscaped garden, granite benchtops, a pool) and those that are must-haves (new floorboards, a major bathroom upgrade, fresh paint on the walls).

This will help you to keep everything in perspective, so you can start with the most important things first and then work your way backwards. Some common areas for renovations that have the most impact when it comes to resale value include high-traffic areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and communal areas like decks or patios.

2. Break down your costs with some serious research

Next, you can start to research and gather costs from suppliers and builders, to see whether the image you have in mind is going to be in-line with the renovation budget you’ve set for yourself. Have designs or plans drawn and speak to architects, quantity surveyors or the fair trading department for advice about your build.

It’s important to have a really firm idea of the costs of your project, which will vary depending on things like:

  • The materials you want to use
  • The tradespeople you employ
  • The quality of the work
  • The size of the job
  • And the location of your site.

It’s always best to get a variety of quotes from a number of different tradespeople or providers. You’ll be surprised how much the quotes vary, so look online, in a newspaper, or seek some word-of-mouth referrals to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

3. Always have a contingency fund

When taking on a big financial project like house renovations, you always need a back-up plan. Overspending is common on building projects, so renovation experts recommend that you factor in an additional 10% to your renovation budget to cover any unexpected costs.

How to make sure you’re sticking to your budget

There are a few things you can do along the way during your renovation project to ensure you’re sticking to your budget as much as possible.

  1. Speak with as many people as you can to make sure you’re aware of any hidden costs that you may not have thought of. These might include the cost of waste disposal, movement of plumbing and electrics, architect or conveyancer fees, and council fees.
  2. Keep a record of your expenditures, including receipts and invoices, to make sure you have a clear idea of how much exactly you’ve spent. You could start an up-to-date budget spreadsheet, and take a look at it when you’re considering splurging on something. Having this visual representation of where your money is going is more likely to keep you on track.
  3. You could also try discussing fixed-price contracts with your providers. This usually involves paying upfront, however will mostly eliminate the chance of any extra, unaccounted-for expenditure.

For more information on how to renovate your home on a budget, visit our article here.

Tips for moving into your house on a budget

If you’ve completed your renovations and are now ready to move into your new house, there are a couple of ways that you can continue to save money throughout the moving process.

  • Get rid of stuff you don’t need before you move – There’s no point in paying extra money for valuable space in a van when it’s for stuff you’re never going to use. Have a good sort-through before you move, and get rid of stuff you no longer need by donating to a service such as Lifeline or a Salvation Army store.
    Tip: We recommend watching Marie Kondo for some serious tidying inspiration!
  • Time is money – Removalists usually charge by the hour, so make sure that you’re 100% ready to go before they arrive. You don’t want to be paying for your removalists to stand around waiting for you to pack boxes!
  • Check measurements – Before you move, make sure that everything you’re taking will actually fit in your new house. There’s no point in taking your giant queen bed, only to find that it won’t fit in your new bedroom.

Decorating your home on a budget

If you’ve completed the main renovations on your home, it’s now time to unleash even more of that interior design creativity and get decorating! This is where you can relax a little and take your time in making your home look and feel beautiful.

Saving tips when decorating your home

1. Get crafty with DIY

Decorating your house doesn’t necessarily have to mean spending thousands of dollars on fancy fittings and furnishings. Check the local antique or charity shop and see if you can score a bargain – sometimes all an item needs is a fresh coat of paint and a shiny new handle to have it looking like new!

2. Put your furniture to good use

If you have limited space and don’t really have room for a lot of furniture, there’s nothing wrong with asking your items to perform double-duty. Use a high-quality storage trunk or chest of drawers as a coffee table, or pop that beautiful rug that you don’t have room for up on the wall as a hanging piece of art.

3. Get staple items from chain retailers

For everyday essentials such as towels, linen, plates, crockery and glasses, turn to chain retailers like IKEA or even Kmart if you’re looking to save. The products coming out of these stores are usually of quite a high quality considering their low price, and you’ll be able to choose from their large selections to make sure you’re getting something that really suits the vibe of your home.

What to do if you’re decorating from scratch on a budget

If you’ve moved into your newly renovated home with no furniture or decorative items whatsoever, it can be a little intimidating to know where to start.

Shannon Smith, interior designer at Homepolish, says that you should always start by purchasing the basics.

“Start with the staple pieces. You’re going to need a place to sit and a place to sleep, at the very least. If you’re unsure of the direction you’d like to go with the design of your space, stick with a neutral palette to start off with. If you choose large neutral pieces to start with, you can add in texture and colour with art and accessories!”

Shannon also recommends that if you’re on a budget and are having trouble figuring out what the best items to invest in are, think about what it is that you most enjoy doing.

Do you have a lovely outdoor deck space that you like hanging out on? In that case, invest in a really high-quality outdoor lounge set. Or, if you’re more a binge-watching Netflix on the couch kind of person, get a great television set and a plush sofa.

How to bring a touch of glam on a budget

If you’re style is very much glitz and glam (but your budget is more wood and IKEA), there are still a few ways that you can bring a sense of luxuriousness to your newly renovated home.

Jazz up your sofa with some new cushion covers

You may not have the cash to be able to splurge on a whole new sofa set, but investing in some great cushion covers will definitely liven up the space. For a glamorous touch, choose cushion covers in a sequin, ruffle texture, or vibrant pattern fabric.

Incorporate the use of mirrors into your design

If you have a house or a specific room that feels a little small and cramped, adding in a strategically placed mirror can really bring a sense of light and space to the area. When placed in the right spot, mirrors reflect their surroundings and trick the viewer’s eye into believing that there’s more space than there actually is. They bring brightness and light, as well as giving you the option to add a funky decorative frame.

Budgeting for your home maintenance

What do you need to think about when it comes to maintaining your home?

There are a few things that you need to take into consideration when it comes to budgeting for ongoing home maintenance costs. If you can, you should consider these factors before you even purchase your home, but if you’re already past that point it still pays to be in the know.

  1. The age of your home – The age of your property will have a pretty big impact on the ongoing maintenance costs. Older homes usually have more elements that need maintenance (such as an old roof, hot water systems etc).
  2. Weather – Think about the usual weather patterns for the area that your property is located in. Homes in colder conditions generally need more maintenance than those in warmer climates. Aspects that might impact these costs include mould, termites and rain damage.
  3. Initial condition of the property – This is a pretty obvious one, but it still needs to be taken into consideration. The older your home, the bigger the impact a previous owner’s care (or lack of) is going to have.
  4. Location – You need to think about the exact neighborhood or location that your house holds on the street when budgeting for home maintenance. For example, you’ll need to deal with drainage costs if your house is at the bottom of a hill, or you may need to cope with wind erosion if your house is in a beachside area.

What kind of money do you need to set aside for home maintenance?

If you’re using your home as an investment property or want to resell it for a profit in a couple of years, it’s extremely important that you prioritise ongoing maintenance. This is because even the smallest piece of maintenance being left unattended to can cause long-term damage over the years, and will ultimately decrease the value of your property.

But how do you figure out how much you need to budget for ongoing maintenance costs?

  1. Use your depreciation report – Using a quantity surveyor to analyse how long the Australian Taxation Office expects items to last in your home could save you thousands come tax time. This will give you an insight into the laws indicating when certain items need to be replaced, which will in turn give you an idea of when they’ll need to be updated or maintained.
  2. Use your common sense – You can make use of some investment wisdom that comes from existing veteran investors. This is commonly known as the 1% rule, meaning you should save 1% of your property’s value each year for home maintenance. For example, if your home is worth $850,000, you would save $8,500 each year to budget for renovation work. You may not use it all in one year, but it’s a wise decision to have money saved for when unexpected maintenance costs occur. An alternative rule of thumb is to save $10 for every square metre of your home.

An idea of general costs for home maintenance

Starting up a maintenance calendar is a great way to keep a track of all the jobs that you need to be done around your home, whether it’s weekly, monthly or annually. This will also allow you to budget for each task, meaning you’ll know how much you’ll be spending at different times of the year.

Cleaning

Keeping your home clean is important from a hygienic perspective as well as an aesthetic perspective. Making sure your home is free from all the germs, bacteria and mould it can possibly be free of will keep it in tip-top condition.

Remember to focus particularly on the kitchen and bathroom, but don’t forget to clean facilities like your air conditioning unit and television every so often. Cleaning supplies are relatively cheap, but if you’d prefer to have your home cleaned professionally, you should get two to three quotes from local cleaning services for the best cost.

Gardening

Whether you have a small patio or a large backyard, it can be a really satisfying and relaxing experience to tend to your own garden. Purchasing a variety of gardening tools will probably set you back around $200, or you could have your garden professionally tended to – as with the cleaning service, it’s best to get quotes from several people when deciding.

Council and water rates

Council rates, strata levies and body corporate fees (if you have an apartment) are all part of being a homeowner. Your contract of sale should let you know all about the different fees associated with your home ownership, with council rates usually based on the value of your place multiplied by a set rate from the council.

Your water rate will depend on the provider’s fixed rate and how much water you use. A great way to save on water expenses is to purchase water-wise appliances (look for the star rating system on the front of the appliance) like shower heads and clothes washers. Making sure you stay on top of taps and leaks around the home will also keep your water bill in check.

Need money for home renovations? No worries!

We understand that sometimes things come up unexpectedly, and you don’t always have the money available to take care of it. Nimble offers quick, no-fuss loans for if you need a stress-free way to borrow money. Whether it’s for starting a new home renovation or for fixing a leaky tap, we’ve got you covered. Apply now to see whether you’re eligible.

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