Home renovation costs: What are they composed of?

August 7, 2023

We are a nation of renovators, who expect to continually improve and upgrade our homes as time and funds see fit. In 2022 alone, 88.1% of us renovated our home in one way or another.

Everyone wants to live in the home of their dreams, but finding the perfect property is a rare thing. That’s why home renovation is so popular.

Not only can homeowners get closer to their dream, but they can t make quality of life upgrades and move with the times. This typically raises the value of the property when the home renovation is completed and to a good standard.

Home renovation costs, also known as remodel costs, come down to materials and labour, which can vary depending on the quality of both. Cost can mount and breach the budget during the renovation as previously invisible issues and faults now appear. It’s important to understand the costs before jumping into any home renovation project, and where the pitfalls lie.

Main sources of home renovation costs


Home renovations almost always include replacing something with something new. Whether it’s tiles, kitchen units, cabinets or carpet, you will end up paying for new materials.

Homeowners should do their own research to understand how much things cost, and its relation to quality. For example, renovating a bathroom normally means replacing tiles, which can vary between ceramic, porcelain and glass tiles, as well as the design and production methods. Opting for high quality materials can add a lot onto home renovation costs, but can cost less in the long-run as high quality materials should last longer and need replacing less often.

Taking into account the size of the area being renovated, home owners should try and calculate how much they expect materials to be before starting any work to prevent surprises and keep the budget under control.


Labour normally accounts for a larger portion of costs than materials in most home renovations, and can vary with the quality of labourers contracted.

Unsurprisingly, contracting high quality labourers will command a bigger cost, but the home renovation is more likely to be completed on time, to a high standard and with high quality workmanship.

Home owners should research who operates in their area and read some reviews before making any decisions, and take multiple quotes on any work.

Unexpected and hidden costs

Unforeseen issues are normal to run into during renovations. These issues are only uncovered once the renovation begins, forcing homeowners to decide between quick, cheap fixes and more permanent, costly solutions.

Taking off wallpaper, for example, can reveal cracks in a wall that is often a sign of subsidence or a heave in the ground that caused the house to move, and for cracks to appear in walls. Water ingress can damage walls and timber joists and joints throughout the house, adding a significant amount of cost onto the original home renovation budget.

For more extensive remodels, such as extensions, there tends to be additional costs, from paying for application fees to the council, to hiring structural engineers and surveyors to assess the viability of the extension. Structural engineers, for example, can typically cost anywhere between £1,300 to £3,000, depending on your location and the size of the project. Some of these expenses will be on a daily rate, so getting things right early has a direct impact on remodel costs.

There may also be costs associated with storage, and even accommodation if it is not possible to live in the house while the renovation takes place.

Unexpected costs, by their nature, cannot be easily predicted. However, any home renovation budget must come with a contingency set aside for unforeseen issues. Homeowners should start with the assumption that the cost of financing a home renovation is always more than initially expected.

How to stretch your home renovation budget


Since labour accounts for such a large portion of the cost of home renovation costs, try to do as much by yourself as you can. Tearing out an old kitchen, removing wallpaper and carpets, removing doors or putting up shelves are all things you can do with relative ease, or learn very easily. This can also be extended to things like painting and decorating.

Only call in outside help for tasks you are not equipped to carry out, and do the rest yourself.

Get as many quotes as you can

It’s not uncommon for home owners to go with the first quote they get. The problem is that there is no way of knowing if you are getting a good deal, you have to have an understanding of the average price of your renovation by getting multiple quotes, and assessing what separates one contractor from another.

It makes it much easier to identify outliers who either charge too much or too little, and will help you make the best decision for your budget and renovation.

Budget your expenses meticulously

Often, homeowners set wider budgets for the entire renovation, but end up spending far more than they originally planned without realising. From issues that only arise once building starts to wanting to make upgrades to fixtures and fittings, costs can creep up on homeowners without them realising.

That’s why they should budget every step of the way, so they are fully aware of what they are spending, on what and the prospects of more spending down the line.

Home renovation requires time and effort

Home renovation is normally a costly affair, but it isn’t too difficult to understand where the costs come from.

While they do mainly come from labour, materials and unexpected costs (structural, application fees, accommodation, storage), many of these costs can be predicted with some research.

Combining due diligence in the form of getting multiple quotes and hard work in the form of doing as much as you can yourself, you can drag remodel costs down significantly, allowing you to save a part of your budget or spend the rest on upgrading other aspects.

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