How to renovate your house with $20,000

House renovations can easily become a money pit, but not if you have clear guidelines.

For many home owners, renovating can seem an unrealistic feat. The materials alone can take up a large portion of the budget, and knowing where to invest in your home can be confusing if you're not properly informed. So, when you're working with a tight budget, it's important that you prepare and establish a clear plan of where to invest and where you can save. To get firsthand advice, Ms. Lee, a client of RateSetter, shares how she renovated her home with a budget of $20,000. Here's what you need to know:

Research extra support

Considering the strains working with a tight budget, Ms. Lee recommends researching areas you can save on your renovation by joining online groups and forums, such as Renovating for Profit, which offer group discounts on materials and provide professional advice. "I definitely benefitted from joining and engaging with communities who had similar interests in home renovation," she tells.

Set a clear goal

"It’s important to know what you want from your budget to begin with," Ms. Lee advises. "I’ve got a two-storey house and renovated it from top to bottom, so I could rent out the lower floor for rental income."

With a clear framework in mind, Ms. Lee was able to separate budget and allocate according to the areas that needed most attention. As she explains, "Using the money from my RateSetter personal loan, I redid the bathroom, put in a kitchen/laundry and also added doors to separate the top floor from the bottom of the house."

Invest in the right things

While Ms. Lee says it's tempting to take shortcuts when buying materials, it's important to do your research and get more than one professional opinion before you make any decisions. 

When renovating her bathroom, Ms. Lee spent a costly amount on a shower screen without a professional quote. Thankfully, the screen she ordered fit the measurements, but she describes that experience as a narrow escape. From that experience, Ms. Lee realised that for these instances, you're better off getting a professional to save you time and money in the long run. 

As she explains, “I turned to the professionals to do the plumbing for the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Expert installations were a big investment."

When it comes to budget buys, Ms. Lee recommends going to a factory or outlet stores for kitchen cabinets, bathrom tiles and sinks where they offer affordable deals. 

Don't skimp on structure

While some DIY can be done in the house, when it comes to constructional builds, it's best to leave it to the professionals - especially if you're renovating a space for tenants. Don't risk a crumbling wall or an uneven surface for a few extra additions to the decor, as Ms. Lee explains: "Safety should definitely be the key priority in any home renovation, so I would highly recommend focusing on constructional changes over aesthetics."

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