How to manage costs during a renovation project

Managing costs during a project can be tricky, especially when you get the professionals in. Here are Geoff Dawson’s top tips for saving money


Do Your Research

If you’re looking to renovate without the huge price tag, make sure the first thing you do is your research. Instead of just going ahead with the first tradie you come across, make sure you discuss your project in depth with a couple of tradies and consider different quotes. Discuss up front what additional costs may arise during the job, so you can factor these into your budget and don’t end up with any surprises when the project is complete. is a great place to start when looking for a reliable tradie with fair pricing, and you can even use the website’s cost estimator to judge how much a job may cost before you start.

Have A Clear Plan

If you are going to get good value from your tradie, you need to have a clear plan as to what you are setting out to achieve. Write out your plan and share it with your tradie as you discuss the job. He or she is not a mind reader; tell them specifically what you want. This avoids re-doing work later, which will increase costs. When you describe the outcome you’re after, your tradie will likely have plenty of questions that need to be answered in order for the job to run smoothly.

Do Your Own Demolition

Doing your own demo work is an easy way to save costs. Be sure to discuss this with your tradie; there’s a big difference between demolishing an old deck outside and removing a couple of internal walls. Removing non-structural internal wall linings will be a great assistance on some jobs and will minimise your bill significantly.

Pitch In With Clean-Up

If you want to save costs, the best way of doing this is to contribute effort and not be afraid to get your hands dirty! By letting your tradie know that you’re available to help them wherever you can, you can help to ensure that as much of their time as possible is focused on delivering the technical work, rather than on other site tasks. Easy ways to lend a hand could include removing rubbish and pitching in with the clean-up. If there is going to be significant debris, perhaps you can offer to haul some of the rubbish to the roadside skip. Helping in this way means your tradie can get the job done quickly and you spend less money on time and labour.


Geoff Dawson.

Make Your Tradie’s Life Easy

On many jobs, tradies will quite likely be working to a fine cost threshold, and the more unnecessary time spent on a job, the less likely they are to make any profit. As a result, they may look for ways to recover some of these losses – so it is in your best interest to make your tradie’s job go as smoothly as possible. Even little things like creating a secure place to keep tools and materials on site and organising easily accessed off-street parking for your tradiewill make life easier. Shouting a cold beverage at the end of the week won’t go unnoticed, either – you can’t go wrong by making your tradie feel appreciated!

Hunt Out Bargains

Looking to remodel your bathroom or bedroom? Be smart about purchasing homeware, and get a little thrifty if you have to. Often items that have next to nothing wrong with them are sold at a fraction of the price, so if you can deal with a minor nick or scratch in a wooden bed frame, or a slight inconsistency in couch fabric, you could have yourself a beautiful piece of furniture for peanuts. Visiting a secondhand store to pick up vintage bargains can be a great way to find unique, quality furniture at half the price – with a lick of paint and a bit of love they’ll look like new, or keep them as is for a character piece that’s bound to be a talking point.

Work With Stock Sizes Where Possible

Doors and windows are expensive when custom ordered. Most manufacturers will have stock sizes readily available. By opting for stock sizes you can make big savings.

Communicate With Your Tradie

Communication is key. Early on in the job, make sure you discuss who will be responsible for what, so that your tradie does not spend time sourcing and pricing materials that you’ve planned on doing yourself. If you know there is some detail or tricky spots that might catch your tradie out, let them know up front so that they can apply their experience to solving it, rather than have them trip up.

We found Geoff Dawson via, an online marketplace where homeowners can post jobs and builders and tradespeople can chase jobs, provide quotes and win work.

Words by: Kristina Rapley. Photography by: Brett Stevens/ Portrait by: Bauer Media Group Studio.

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