Debbie Shankar - 2 Aug, 2021

How much does it cost to renovate a house in Australia?

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There’s nothing quite like a room makeover to bring new life to your humble abode, but thanks to the increasing popularity of renovation shows and reno couples (we’re looking at you Chip and Johanna Gaines), it seems we’re more eager than ever before to hitch up the tool belt and get to work.

Currently, due to the global pandemic, it seems that Australians have been spending more time at home because of self-isolation measures and experts believe now is the time to undertake property improvements to get the house in the condition you’ve always wanted.

This comes as research from the Housing Industry Association depicting the total value of home renovation is projected to increase from $33.2 billion in 2017 to nearly $36 billion this year.

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While a full-house makeover seems easy when it’s edited down to a half an hour show, the reality is a bit more daunting – and so is the cost.

According to the Renovations Roundup report from Housing Industry Association (HIA),  half of all renovations in Australia are valued between $40,000 and $300,000.

The average cost of home renovations sits at approximately $50/hour, but rates can go as high as $65/hour.

The median spend for home renovation projects stabilised at $20,000 in 2019, according to the Houzz & Home Australia Overview of Home Renovation.

This year we reported median kitchen renovation spend at $15,000 – which is down from last year at $20,000. The master bathroom is at $13,000 for the median spend and the non-master bathroom is at $10,000 for the median spend.

Houzz sat down with interior and exterior designer Jane Eyles-Bennett from Hot Space Consultants to find out how much it really costs to give your home a long-awaited makeover.

When you meet with new renovation clients, what’s the first thing you do to work out the renovation cost?

Exterior designer, Jane Eyles-Bennett believes the first thing to do is work backwards – starting at the current value of the property.

“I like to work backwards. I think it’s important to start with the value of the property and then estimate what you think it’s going to be worth once the renovation is finished. I do this because I’m really big on people not overcapitalising on their renovations. So, the first question is: What’s the current value of your property? What would you sell it for right now?

Then I would speak to the clients about what they’d like to do their home – is it a kitchen renovation? Or just a bathroom renovation? Perhaps it’s both. Once we’re done, we’ll talk about what the property might be worth when it’s renovated – this is how we establish the budget. I always go through this process. It’s important because some people don’t want to capitalise on their renovation because it might be their forever home.”

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How are Aussie’s managing renovations and DIY during COVID-19?

While spending is down overall, data shows that Australians are spending more on DIY projects and home improvements as we adapt to isolation and social distancing measures.

Australians have been spending on home renovations and trades services as data from May 2020 shows. Data from 1.8 million Australians in Zip’s Weekly Spending Index for May shows that home renovation and trades services saw a boom when compared to the same period last year.

Security installation, roofing, gardening, outdoor home improvement, home pool and spas all saw significant increases in consumer spending in May 2020, while trade services like electricians, plumbers and painters were all sought after.

The CommBank Card Spending Data for the period of May 2020 also showed that spending on household furnishings and equipment remains the strongest category – up more than 50% from the same period a year ago.

Many sectors in CommBank’s household spending intentions report was either flat or in decline, with retail spending the only sector increasing. During the month of June 2020, the data is consistent depicting an increase in retail spending still continuing to July 2020.

Australians have been happy to spend on household furnishings and equipment, which ranges from furniture but also just about anything for the home, from TVs to paints and plants. This is good news for the likes of Bunnings, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi which have seen an increase in sales.

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What are the challenges during COVID-19?

Architecture firms and licenced builders have already adapted their work practices to the challenges of COVID-19, making use of online video software to converse with clients. This shows there is no hindrance to approach an architecture firm or builder to start building on your ideas and develop your dream design.

Australians have powered through their home renovation plans in spite of the pandemic. In fact, the housebound life encouraged many homeowners to brainstorm ideas and start DIY projects. 

Online renovation platform Houzz’s recent survey of 2200 Australians found 62% soldiered on with renovations after the pandemic was declared in mid-March.

You might also like: How to fund a renovation

Does it really make a difference if someone wants to live in their house forever or are planning to sell?

“Some clients might say they have $100,000 to spend and it’s their forever home. This means the decisions for renovation will be different compared to if they were going to sell.

For example, if they were going to sell, I’d suggest prioritising external areas like the front of the house – or even the kitchen. We know kitchens sell houses. If a prospective buyer looks at a house and it has an amazing living area or kitchen and then they get to the bathrooms but they’re not amazing, it doesn’t matter as much because these people already know they like the house. If it is a ‘forever’ home though, I make sure the focus is really on what clients want for their own purposes and what’s good for them.”

Is it more about how you spend, not how much you have to spend?

“A big part of renovating is allocating the money around the property so that you can do as much as you need to do without running out. A client may have $100,000 but only want to spend $5,000 on the exterior, for example.

I see a lot of people spending $20,000 more than they should on the kitchen, which takes them into the next phase of their budget, which they eat through quickly, even though they haven’t renovated all the areas they want to.”

What’s the biggest misconception about renovating?

“A lot of people really underestimate the cost. That’s partly due to a lot of TV shows that give them unrealistic ideas. Let’s not forget a lot of those shows use DIY to save on costs. Most people know what they know, and they don’t know what they don’t know. That’s when the problems occur.

If you’re renovating a bathroom, you may not think about things like relocating the plumbing – and there’s a knock-on effect from decisions like that. Sometimes people might overspend two or three thousand on a room without planning on it because of issues like unseen damage.”

At what point is it best to spend a bit on a professional instead of trying to do it yourself?

“Let’s say you’re looking at the bathroom or the kitchen – you need a certain number of square metres of tiles, shower screens, a bath, vanities, this and that. There’s a big benefit to having someone who’s done all that before.

This could be a designer, builder or project manager – someone who can anticipate extra costs so you can do your best to not go over budget. Do you want to try to save some costs by doing it yourself but risk going over budget? Or do you pay a designer or a project manager to deliver the project for you – someone who is unlikely to overspend because they know what things costs and they can manage these against your budget.”

What’s the best advice you can give prospective renovators?

“You don’t have to spend a lot to make the job look good, but you do have to spend money on the right things. Remember, there are areas to save and areas to spend.

I always advocate buying good taps and using a good plumber. If there’s a leak with those products because you’ve bought them cheaply, then you’ve got to get into a wall, or go through the tiles – those kinds of issues can be so costly. Save yourself the hassle.”

What schemes are in place to help you financially?

The HomeBuilder scheme is a grant by the Morrison government, where buyers of freshly built homes or renovating their property will receive a $25,000 cash grant. This new scheme does have some limitations and it cannot be used by anyone who would just like to build a new patio, pool, tennis court or cheaply renovate their bathroom or kitchen.

The HomeBuilder scheme will also be restricted to people on middle incomes and to new homes and major renovations valued between $150,000 to $750,000. Your income cannot be greater than $125,000 as an individual or $200,000 as a couple.

The Northern Territory Government Jobs Rescue and Recovery Scheme helps homeowners, businesses and tradespeople to engage in projects that are improving the land and/or buildings. Renovations, repairs and maintenance are included, and the scheme operates on a voucher system with homeowners receiving either:

  • A voucher worth $4000 if you contribute at least $1000
  • A voucher worth $6000 if you contribute at least $2000

To be eligible you must be a registered owner of a residential property in the Northern Territory and work must include a labour component to be carried out by an eligible business that is not related to the homeowner. 

How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen?

According to Hipages, renovating a kitchen in Australia could cost anywhere between $10,000 and $45,000.

The price varies depending on the extent of the work you’re carrying out, the materials and products you use and your kitchen’s size.

You might also like: Quick fixes to freshen up your kitchen on a budget

How much does it cost to renovate a bathroom?

Hipages says that renovating a bathroom tends to cost between $10,000 and $35,000. Replacing tiles often pushes up the cost of bathroom makeovers.

You might also like: Your guide to a complete home renovation

How much does it cost to renovate a living room?

One of the more affordable room renovations, simple changes to living rooms cost anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000, according to Hipages.

If you’re thinking of replacing flooring then you’re too likely spend more than $15,000, which you should factor into your budget.

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How much does it cost to renovate a bedroom?

A basic bedroom renovation might cost as little as $2,000 – if you’re replacing carpet or painting walls – or as much as $35,000 – if you’re adding an en suite bathroom.

Words by Alana Wulff.

Updated by Ece Demir on 01 September 2020

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