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Maintaining a home

Renovation costs: advice from an interior designer

23 January 2018

This article is part of The Homeowner’s Journey series, featuring case studies from homeowners and property professionals.

Home renovation is a great way to make your house more liveable and increase the value for when you sell your property. But, before you start tearing walls down and comparing paint samples, get some advice from the experts on what to expect and what hidden renovation costs to look out for.

Jacqui Casey, interior design lecturer from Billy Blue College of Design, takes us through her key advice for renovating.

You’ll learn the value of talking to an interior designer in your very first consultation. We’ll sit down and talk about what you’re trying to achieve, your personal style, and your lifestyle and needs. While you may have a detailed Pinterest board at the ready, we’ll take it one step further. 

Interior designers are trained to think smart about spaces: we’ll help you think about using different techniques to save time, money and space. Our advice goes beyond cushions and colours! We’re passionate about designing great spaces that not only look nice, but perform a function. 

We can help you find solutions like converting unused spaces into functional areas (i.e. adapting staircases into storage spaces), updating colours to alter the mood of a room, or sourcing a specific lighting fixture or piece of artwork that will a bring a space together. We can help you source second-hand furniture and materials to save money, and reupholster tired, old pieces to make them sparkling new.

So, now that you know the value of an interior designer, here’s my advice for keeping renovation costs down:

1. Be realistic, and be willing to compromise

Start by having a rough idea of what you’re wanting to achieve. Gather ideas from magazines or create a Pinterest board to document your style. It’s important to know what you want from your home renovation and how detailed it’s going to be. Then, when it comes to talking with a professional, they’ll be able to see what you want and help you get a solid idea of your renovation costs.

Be realistic about what you can and should do. While it may be tempting to renovate your home to make it look like the pages of a trendy lifestyle magazine, think about the practicality of that particular style trend. Will it look dated in five years’ time, when you’re looking to sell?

"Being realistic means creating a ‘wishlist’. Split it up into ‘wants’ and ‘needs’, so you’re clear on your necessities and what you may be able to compromise on."

Once you decide on a budget you can work out if there’s room for your ‘want’ items.

2. Find a good, experienced professional to work with

Work with trained professionals. Always. This will save you time and money in the long run, as you’ll be able to get the home renovation work done right the first time, and not have to fix it up later.

With an interior designer, this doesn’t just mean meeting up to exchange ideas. Professional interior designers are genuinely interested in making a space better – that’s what we do, and that’s what we’re passionate about. We should be able to interpret your ideas and make sense of them in relation to your lifestyle and living situation. During the renovation process, we can help you work around building or design limitations by finding solutions that use lighting and colour to create effectively designed spaces.

So make sure you select a good interior designer. Here’s what you should look for:

Proof of work

Do your research first and look at the types of projects they’ve done. Usually you can do this by checking out their website or social media accounts.

Genuine interest in you

You’ll want to find someone to work with who shows high interest in you and what you want, rather than throwing their own style onto you.


Connecting with someone who communicates really effectively, is open to ideas, and is genuinely interested in getting the best result possible is the recipe for a good working relationship.

Tried and tested

Sometimes it can be hard to find someone with all of the above. So, look out for word of mouth referrals from people you know, as they’ll be the best source of truth.

3. Do your research

One of the easiest and best ways to save on renovation costs is to develop a budget for everything. Yes, everything. That means all your materials, consultation fees, furniture and accessories, delivery charges, installation fees and alternative housing costs – i.e. rent if you can’t live in your property during renovation.

"It can be really easy to blow your budget out of proportion, particularly if you don’t initially create a budget that’s realistic. Make sure you spend time on your research."

If you don’t know where to start with your research, talking to people is a good idea. Talk to your friends and family as well as people in the industry, and get a solid understanding of what you want and how much it will cost.

Interested in accessing additional funds for your renovation? Learn more about Suncorp Bank's renovation financing options.

Discover Renovation Loan Options

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The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.

Loans are provided by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 Australian Credit Licence 229882 (“Suncorp Bank”) to approved applicants only. Terms, conditions, fees and charges apply and are available upon request.