Reno Budgeting, The Hidden Costs

Much like anything, with a renovation you need to read the small print. The only tricky thing is that there is no small print other than what you uncover yourself… over time… when you are so fed up you took on a reno in the first place and you don’t have any money left and you’re angry at everyone around you and everything you own is either covered in dust, in boxes, or under them.

To avoid all the above and with our second reno project just around the corner, we are trying our darndest to think of every single cost possible to pull together a budget – a budget that frankly is already looking pretty scary.

This time, as well as changing the current interiors we will be doing a rear extension and loft conversion – you know, because¬†one challenge is just- meh…ūü§£ūü§£

Some of these refer to the reno itself and some are thing’s you’ll want to consider if you’re mad like us and decide to live in it whilst you do it.


We didn’t have a kitchen for three months when we did our last reno and although I actually lost about half a stone from mostly consuming Pot Noodles (seriously, it’s no good for you but it’s a great diet), we had A LOT of takeaways and it mounted up.

Little extras

Light bulbs, radiators, light switches, paint (can easily run into the hundreds), door handles, plug sockets. None of these things break the bank on their own, but add them up for every room and it becomes a cost you want to prepare for.

The work WILL cost more than you are quoted

Whether it’s materials, extra labour or people to sort out snagging and extras after your original builders are gone. Make sure you have a decent contingency amount in your budget, a good few grand. It’s always better to be pleasantly surprised and come within budget than to be scrambling around for money when you’re so close to finishing.

Party Wall Agreements

You’ll mostly need this for extensions and loft conversions and it has to be sorted out by a solicitor. You’ll be looking in the region of ¬£300-¬£1,000 depending where you are in the country and how good you are at haggling.

Planning Permission

Planning costs money and you need it for a fair few things so make sure you check! You’ll probably need to put in drawings for this but don’t be phased if you’re something simple. There’s some great software out there you can try before you go to an architect. Try Smartdraw¬†or Sweethome3D

You WILL find things you weren’t¬†expecting

You are certain to find a joist that needs replacing or some wood that needs to be treated for a bug or that something you wanted to do just won’t work the way you wanted. We always stick another ¬£3k on to cover our houses little surprises.

Dry Cleaning

We didn’t have a washer or dryer for 2 months – all my birthdays came at once when I could suddenly wash clothes again. That meant that Zipjet’s bottom line improved quite substantially. But propping up your local laundrette isn’t really where you want your pennies going, especially if you’ve not thought about it.

Packaging and coverings

I wish we had spent more on these the first time around. It would have made life a lot more bearable. You want to be able to cover things up once finished and also preserve the quality of what’s already there. Builders traipsing back and forth carrying tools, plastering and eating their lunchtime take aways¬†doesn’t do a whole lot for floors and is FAR easier to clean up when you can simply roll up the top layer. Thick plastic for the floors and a big roll of bubble wrap should do it. I have become a bubble wrapping queen and have been known to bubble wrap entire kitchens and bathrooms where necessary.

The electric bill

We had a fan heater whilst we took radiators out and new ones were delayed (see my point about lead times in Reno Hindsight) plus it was winter which is really a time you want to avoid for renovation work. We also had dehumidifiers on the go, heat lamps to dry plaster etc etc. This left us with a pretty decent electricity bill.

Key cutting and Door locks


Once all the contractors and every man and his dog that you’ve cut keys for has gone home you’ll want to change your locks.¬† For peace of mind and also to save the hassle of trying to get keys back which can be a pain. Decent locks aren’t always cheap.


Light fittings

You can live in a place with minimal furniture, and pictures for the walls can wait but some light fittings you’re going to want your builders to put up for you. Factor them in and get them in time (those god damn lead times again).

A big fat bottle of Champagne

You shouldn’t need my reasoning here really but obvs for when you stand back and admire your amazing hard work and tenacity!



  1. April 19, 2018 / 7:25 am

    My sister and Aunty are renovating at the moment. It’s been 15 years since our last one. Everything you have said is so true – and the dust – doesn’t it take an age to settle! It’s nice to e-meet you Lu xx

    • April 19, 2018 / 7:30 am

      Lovely to e-meet you too Maria!
      And yep don’t get me started on the dust! I think I could write a whole piece on dust alone!!!

  2. April 19, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Ha ha ha. A big fat bottle of champagne. That is great! There are a lot of extras. #brillianblog

    • April 19, 2018 / 1:04 pm

      Yup! It’s probably the most important one of the lot!! thankyou xx

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