How to get the best bang for your buck when Building or Renovating

Lauren O'Grady
May 27, 2020

During these times people are wanting to make sure they use their money wisely and invest in the right things when building or renovating their Family Home.

As I’ve touched on in previous Blogs  getting a Builder involved in the early stages of planning your project with open communication between client, Architect/Draftsman and builder will benefit you by:

- Saving you money

- Saving you time

- Ensure your plans will be designed to stay on budget

- Ensure there will be no surprises when it comes to getting tenders from other builders

- Takes you, the client, out of being the middle man. The designer and builder are able to discuss technical terms between themselves without you needing to get involved.

During planning stages we want the clients to consider what their "Non negotiable" inclusions for their home are. What do they consider to be the most important inclusion in their home.  Are they avid home chefs and want the best kitchen appliances and layout or do they hate cooking. This is very important to consider so you can plan to either 'splurge' or 'budget' in certain areas of the build.

With our extensive experience having a Construction company for over 10+years, having renovated and built ourselves many times and with a growing family we believe these are areas where you should 'splurge on' and the areas where you can afford to be 'frugal' with. PLEASE NOTE These are only our recommendations, not everyone will agree!


- Windows (Glazing being most important). If you’re wanting to run your house heating and cooling efficiently getting double glazing is imperative. Most energy ratings these days require you to have double glazing to be able to reach your 6 stars anyway but he can't recommend spending time and money on find the best windows for your home. I am writing a blog on this in the next few weeks on all the different options when choosing windows.

- Insulation (especially if you live in very hot or very cold climates). Again this can be governed by your Energy Rating but Insulation is essential to save money on your heating and cooling costs during the year. Without excellent insulation your house will cost a fortune to heat and cool efficiently.

- Kitchen Joinery. As a family we spend a lot of time in the Kitchen. It’s the hub of the home. In our house we have chairs on the opposite side of the island bench, this is where the kids have breakfast every morning, this is where the kids tell me about their day as I’m cooking dinner everynight. A good quality and high functioning kitchen is essential to every family home. Any form of stone on the kitchen benchtops is functional, stylish and will add value to the home. It’s doesn’t have to be top of the range but having some sort of stone in kitchen is highly recommended.

However, the butlers pantry and Laundry benchtop is generally hidden from the general person so if budget is tight you can have standard laminate benchtops in these rooms to save some money.

Spending money in the Kitchen will not be wasted money, even for resale.

- Appliances. Again, as a family having meals that can be made quickly and efficiently means don’t scrimp on the kitchen Appliances. Have an oven big enough to be able to fit your Christmas cooking in, have a cooktop to be able to fit numerous pots on (Gas or Induction, that is quite a personal choice), have a rangehood that doesn’t sound like a helicopter coming through the house every time you turn it on (yes that’s a lesson learnt from myself very early myself). Make sure your dishwasher will fit a good amount of dishes in and that they come out clean every time. It has become very popular recently to have Integrated panels in your kitchen which means it uses your kitchen cabinetry to hide your dishwasher, fridge and microwave. This is great if you can afford it but not necessary.

- Kitchen sink mixer. Again, this is another item in the house that doesn’t get a lot of air time but when you think about how much time you use it, you will want one that will stand the test of time and make washing up easy for you and your children(yeah sure!).

- Heating and Cooling. There are many options here. Underfloor hydronic heating is becoming increasingly popular due to its clean way of heating the house, being environmentally friendly and the price to run this heating long term is pretty cheap (but the upfront costs can be quite costly). Ducted heating and Refrigerated Cooling is still a very popular option. Split systems, evaporative cooling, gas or wood fire heaters. There is nothing worse than having different temperatures in every room of the house so make sure you’re spending the money wisely here. Your builder can help make this choice for you.

- Flooring, but only where the most traffic will occur overtime. This is not an area to be frugal with. Your flooring is an investment. I wrote a blog on this last year. Again, there are many options polished concrete, hardwood timber floor, engineered timber floor, tiles, laminate, vinyl. We don’t recommend Laminate or vinyl flooring often especially the laminate. Laminate flooring is crafted from four layers of high-density fibreboard and plastic or paper that has been printed with a pattern or texture that resembles timber. On top of this is a melamine resin to protect the product from wear. Most people that put laminate down with a family find they need to rip it up and start again within a few years. Again, this is where your builder can help you decide on the best option for you during the planning stages.


- Carpet (but invest in a good underlay). We know how messy kids are, food, urine, vomit, slime, play doh, textas, paint gets squished into the carpet and these stains can be hard if not impossible to remove. So spending a lot of money on your carpet when you have young children will cause you lots of stress and worry trying to ensure they remain stain free! Your wool carpets (which are the most expensive) cannot be steam or dry cleaned or they will shrink so it’s not recommended young families to use a wool carpet.

Get a high quality underlay which will stand the test of time and then all you have to do is change the carpet over the top every five-ten years.

- Childrens wardrobes. Again, messy children and they are only young for a short time. Children deciding that the robe will be a great paint canvas or standing on a drawer to reach the top of the robe (yes that’s from personal experience too). Therefore, if you have young children get robes that are functional with plenty of storage but not the most expensive material, generally melamine is great.

- Toilets, shower rose, Mixers. Now this one I am going to be careful with. I’m not telling you to go and get these items on the back of a truck without a warranty but I am saying don’t be suckered in by the latest trends, don’t get Brushed Nickel when it looks exactly like Satin Chrome but the triple the price! Get good quality items that come with a minimum five year warranty but don’t get ridiculously expensive items. We can help stear you in the right direction for this and recommend some excellent suppliers

- Tiles. Again I’m going to be careful with this one because we don’t want people to go out and buy the cheapest of cheapest tiles but we are saying you don’t need Terrazzo tiles in your bathrooms. What are terrazzo tiles I hear you say? They are a tile combining a mixture of marble, granite, quartz, or glass chips into a cement binder and then pressed into a tile shape. They are more expensive than a ceramic or porcelain tile and they are more expensive to lay and need to be sealed numerous times throughout there life span. You can get ceramic or porcelain tile to look very similar to a terrazzo without the price tag or hassle of install. As long as the tiles are purchased from reputable suppliers you don’t need the most expensive tile.

- Showerscreens. When choosing showerscreens you can choose frameless, semi frameless and with full frames. The full frames are the more budget friendly but there is a lot of areas where mould and soap scum can accumulate so that’s not always great. Then there’s semi frameless which has an edge around the frame of the showerscreen but the door doesn’t and then there’s frameless which just has clips and hinges and no edging. The

look of frameless and semi frameless are very similar and there is a significant price increase for Frameless, so again if you’re trying to find areas to be frugal with semi frameless showerscreens are the way to go without compromising on style too much

- Stairs. Some people may use the stairs in their houses as a feature and then there are other people that just want to make the stairs functional but not a focal part of the house. If function over style is your option then choose either timber or carpet treads with a standard timber handrail painted and a stainless steel cable used as a balustrade.

- Light switches and down lights. No please don’t use the old fashioned batten lights with globes though!! I just mean, use standard light switches and downlights. There can be a huge difference in price when it comes to a light switch and downlights. Again, I believe this is an area to be frugal with. It’s a light switch, we need them, but I don’t believe they should be a feature. As long as they are white and what the majority of electricians use which are to Australian Standard, then they are fine.

I hope this has helped you to make the all important decisions when building or renovating your family home.

Contact us today if you would like to get started on planning your project now!

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