The Real Reasons Kitchen Renovations Go Over Budget – 11 Things to Avoid!

We’ve all heard those kitchen renovation horror stories; it’s very easy to go over budget in a renovation and end up feeling let down. Ensure you stay on top of your budget with our insider tips to make sure your renovation runs smoothly without causing too much damage to your bank account!


  1. Lack of Planning

    The best way to make sure you’ve thought of everything is to use a Qualified Kitchen Designer who will work with you to create the kitchen of your dreams and also provide professional drawings, making sure that every item and detail is clear and easy to communicate. Professional drawings and documentation are crucial; as you are hunting for quotes, each Builder is quoting the exact same project based on these professional drawings, rather than simply making allowances for certain items because they haven’t been made clear.

    Image Source

    For example: Caesarstone is one of the most popular choices for Kitchen benchtops however, Caesarstone has several different price tiers within their colour range. If your Builder has simply allowed for ‘Caesarstone Benchtops’ this is a warning sign: should you choose anything outside of the Standard colour range, you will be slugged with a bill for the extra cost; not so fun when you thought this Builder was the cheapest pick of the lot! Be as specific as you can in your documentation to ensure all Builders know exactly what they are quoting and make all the necessary allowances.

  2. Not Setting a Realistic Budget

    ALWAYS set a budget! Although you may be at the stage where you’re still unsure of how much your renovation will cost you in total, you can at least say to yourself: “Well how much am I actually WILLING to spend on this renovation?” That’s where you should start; tell your Builder or Designer what you are thinking and they will you advise of the best options available to fit into that budget or, should your budget need re-assessing, again they will advise you accordingly. Once you’ve had at least two or three quotes, you will feel more confident in setting a budget as you will have a clear understanding of all the work and expenses involved.

    Image Source
  3. Lack of Understanding Material Costs

    Once again, it is your Designer’s job to make sure you get more bang for your buck. Your Designer should be knowledgeable of where different types of finishes or brands sit in the market when compared to other products and will advise you of the best options available to suit both your needs and budget. You may be surprised at just how much things cost: Laminate products are well known as the least expensive cabinetry finish however, there are specialty laminates and brands out there that actually cost around the same as a two pack finish (which is a top of the range cabinet finish). Discuss your ideas with your Designer or Builder who will assist you in finding the most appropriate products.

  4. Doing it Yourself? Make sure to do the research! 

    If you are not working with a Designer or Builder and prefer the DIY approach, make sure you do your research! Look into cost comparisons of different products, read as many reviews as you can, ask way too many questions, whatever you can do to make a well informed decision. You do no want to be spending money on a product, only to find out after it’s been installed that it isn’t preforming as well as you had hoped. For example, I was watching House Hunters: Renovation a while ago; the couple were renovating a gorgeous home and selected cork for the kitchen flooring. The couple were actually designers and even said they were concerned about water damaging the flooring however, they still went ahead. Of course, the floor was water damaged later on in the show and had to be removed and replaced! What a waste of money!

    Image Source
  5. Cutting Corners

    Cutting corners just opens the door to accidents and errors; you may have saved money by doing something or purchasing something on the cheap however, when it comes to construction you do often get what you pay for! Unless you have done your research (see point no. 4) and have complete faith and confidence in your selections, it can be risky to cut corners when renovating a kitchen. As mentioned above, invest the time and effort into researching to make informed decisions: DO hunt for great bargains but DO NOT compromise on quality!

  6. Going with the Cheapest Quote

    So, you’ve sent off your plans and documentation to three different builders and have received their quotes: one is dirt cheap, one is much more expensive than you had anticipated and the third quote sits somewhere in the middle. Now, a lot of real estate blogs and websites advise that you should always go for the price in the middle however, our best advice to you is to read the quotes, ask for clarification (in writing) where necessary and have an open, honest discussion with these Builders. The cheaper quotes may have items excluded from the overall contract amount which will be charged to you as an extra or variation later on down the track. Some Builders pay very close attention to their quotes – EVERYTHING is included in the price, with no room for extras. A lot of builders may even offer you a fixed price: an all inclusive quote – this may look like the most expensive option however, when you get right down to it, it is a fixed cost where you are paying for exactly what you asked for. Had you chosen the cheapest quote with items excluded however, you may end up forking out more than that more expensive quote – So read everything thoroughly and make sure you are getting EXACTLY what you have asked for!

    Image result for kitchen design
    Image Source
  7. Not Reading the Fine Print

    This is a bit of a continuation of point no. 6 however, it needs to be made very clear: always read the fine print in all of your documentation and quotes! What have you been quoted for? Does the quote allow for everything you’ve asked for or have things been changed or left out to cut costs – meaning, you will often be charged the extra down the track anyway!

    Read everything, make sure all items are clear to all parties involved. This will avoid any confusion and added costs down the track: for example, you’ve requested your new kitchen benchtops to be 40mm mitred stone however, the Stonemason has accidentally only quoted for a 20mm thick stone top. If you haven’t read the quote properly and picked up on the error prior to signing it off, the stone top going into your new kitchen will be 20mm thick. Now try to work out who has to pay the extra cost to fix the mistake – the Stonemason who although didn’t quote what was asked for, did however spell out that the quote was for a 20mm stone or, should the client who didn’t read the quote and signed it off pay the extra? It can be very tricky sometimes! The best option here is of course for both parties to have an open discussion and figure out a solution where everyone is satisfied however, sometimes people aren’t always so cooperative! Don’t find yourself in this situation; read everything thoroughly!

    Image Source
  8. Not Asking the Right Questions

    Ask your Builder for references, insurance details, warranties, timeframes, etc. A good Builder will be happy to pass on references to you and be open and up front about their history, process and time schedule. A good Builder will always stick to the time schedule he has given you at the beginning of your kitchen renovation (and if your Builder has not supplied you with a schedule, do ask for one!) and will keep you well informed and prepared of any unforeseen delays that may occur. How does this affect your budget? Well, a project that has not been run properly will require more time spent in a rental property if you have moved out for the duration of the renovation. Or the worst case scenario is that the project has run so poorly that another trade or Builder is need to come in to fix it – even more expenses!

  9. Changing Your Mind

    It all comes back to point no. 1 in this list: Planning! If you’ve planned and settled on everything much earlier on in the project, this will minimise the need to make fast decisions and to change your mind. Changing your mind on a particular item during a renovation will be charged as a variation to the contract; an extra cost that will vary depending on what the item is, how far the builder has got into working on the initial plan, etc; these costs can really add up! Your builder would have to charge you: the cost of removing the works that have already been completed where necessary to make the changes, cost of labour, materials, any associated freight/delivery fees, etc. not to mention the added time it will take to accommodate for any lead times on new items that will need to be ordered,setting your project back and again, costing you money!

    Image result for kitchen design
    Image Source
  10. Unexpected Costs

    Unfortunately, working on an existing property means there may be some unexpected costs: once you remove the floor, you may realise it needs repairing; removing existing tiles may reveal rising damp. Cases like these are usually only picked up on once the works have commenced, revealing these issues that have been hiding under your floor or in your walls. Which brings us to our next and final point…

  11. Not Allowing a Contingency Amount

    These unexpected items will need to be sorted out! Ensure you’ve allocated a set amount for situations such as these – set aside about 5 – 10% of your total budget (depending on the scale of your project). If you need it, it’s there. If you don’t need it, well that’s some bonus cash for you!

Share your best money saving tips in the comments below!