Skip to main content

Enjoyable sustainable renovations

Quote from building contractor too high? Three power moves you can make to cut costs

15 June 2023
orange fruits on stainless steel kitchen counter

It is not only about budget, it is also about mindset ...

When the building contractor's quote for your home improvement project has come in higher than you expected, it may feel like a let down. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that the work gets done and within budget. First of all, don't panic or despair. If the quote is not within your budget, there are a few options available to help bring the cost down without compromising on quality.

1. Review and provide feedback, ideally in person or over the phone

When scrolling all the way down the quote, is it possible you've not really registered the information and jumped to the conclusion that you simply won't be able to afford the project. In most cases, contractors who have spent time putting an estimate together are serious about taking on the work and will want you to give feedback on their proposal. Avoid thinking that the estimate is set in stone.

You can absolutely ask questions about the costs and services so that you understand why certain expenses have been included. Equally important to spot if some have not, as it may need clarifying. It can also be helpful to ask for a breakdown of the quote, which may reveal areas where money could be saved. My advice is that you take written notes for yourself to keep track (memory is fallible), and if you do email your comments to the building contractor, suggest that they be discussed in person or over the phone.

Courtesy and appreciation goes a long way: explain that you appreciate their work - which in most cases they have put together for you for free - but that you need to find ways to reduce the overall costs. This message is just better handled live, with voice, body language and conversation mode.

2. Amend the design while optimising your priorities

Some design elements are not necessarily good value for your money. It is worth you weighing the benefit design elements actually provide for you. For example, it is frequent for homeowner to initially request an estimate for fully glazed roof for their rear extension, and to later on reduce the scope and costs by choosing to fit light wells.

From a design perspective, a glass roof may not offer you value for money, if it means giving up on other important parts of your dream design. or the whole project. The difference in costs between glass roofs and those with lights wells is immense. It is good to know that light wells can often achieve the natural light flow you are seeking to creating. Building contractors are usually able to guide with these decisions so do engage in a conversation about price of materials and labour.

Another key design area that can be reviewed when trying to reduce costs is structural work, i.e. removing a wall completely versus leaving support pillars or creating a smaller openings. It is common for people to request the former option and then, after costs calculations, choose the latter options.

And know that if you plan to remodel your house, you most probably won't have to hire an architect, and the same goes for many extensions within planning permission rights. You can either talk about design options directly with your building contractor and draw the specifications yourself, and/or get targeted support from design professionals for the aspects of your project for which you feel out of your depths.

3. Know you can negotiate

Most contractors will be willing to make suggestions to reduce costs, with a view to keep you as a client. In an ideal world, you would be aware of general building and materials costs before reviewing a quote and hiring a contractor, and be able to review the proposal soundly.

The reality is that, even if you have some experience of home renovations, every project presents new challenges. One way to be in a position to meaningfully discuss project proposals with contractors is requesting three quotes from construction companies with verified credentials.

As you learn and explore what your project involves, meeting contractors is an excellent way for you to become confident about the costs and holding a discussion on the price of your renovations. The three quotes process may seem fastidious, but without it you will find it hard to make informed decisions about project costs, scope and timelines. Top tip : provide the same project proposal to all three contractors you invite to quote. This will allow you to compare like for like as much as possible.

The Place Between supports homeowners realise enjoyable and sustainable home renovations. Helping renovators align their project goals with their budget is one of our key areas of work. But it's not only about budget, it is also about mindset.

There are many reasons why renovations projects are challenging and often fail. The Place Between can help you navigate the meanders of renovations by offering you one to one support so you can plan, undertake and complete your project. This helps ensure that you end up spending what you chose to spend, not what it ended up costing you.

Get in touch if you would like to know more about how we think outside the box to ensure you get a great renovation experience.

Go to our services page here

Valerie Couillard, renovation consultant
Know more about Valerie and The Place Between