How to Plan a Renovation When Prices Are Rising
How can you deal with increased material and product costs during your project? Read on for expert advice
Professional advice from: Jonathan Butler of RHJB Architects; Conor Brady of Des Ewing Residential Architects; Amit Malhotra of Aflux Designs
“There have been some surprises when pricing certain jobs,” Conor Brady says. “Projects we thought would be cost-effective to build have come in much more expensive than anyone anticipated.”
“There’s no doubt there’s been a recent increase,” Jonathan Butler agrees. “We’re seeing project costs for domestic works coming in at around £3,500 excluding VAT per square metre. Material costs, as well as supply issues and increased demand, have seen a general increase in contractors’ prices.”
“Building at the minute is very expensive, but we’re starting to see a glimmer of things possibly slowing up, which will hopefully bring costs back under control,” Conor says.
Jonathan adds that these costs can be mitigated by the increase in property values. “So it’s all proportional,” he says. “Investment in great design no doubt adds long-term value to properties, as well as differentiating your property from others, which increase resale value.”
Consider these ways to prepare for potential price rises:
It pays to find out if your professional offers a fixed-price contract in order to provide you with a more stable plan. “Where we do have control over costs, it’s important clients feel reassured that these are as fixed as possible,” says Amit Malhotra, who offers a fixed fee. “Once a project is secured and construction costs are confirmed, we usually ensure this price is fixed. We also try to hold our contractors to their prices.”
He also recommends paying deposits to suppliers as early as possible, so prices stay the same on delivery and installation.
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“At the beginning, a detailed budget is the most vital tool before any confirmation of design and fixtures and fittings,” Amit says. He explains that this will allow you to point out priorities and see where you want to focus your expenditure.
When hiring an architect, Jonathan recommends you employ someone who’ll work with you to draw up the project to a high level of detail, and manage it properly on site. “This investment will pay dividends by reducing additional costs for unforeseen items once a project is on-site,” he says. “A good architect should save you their fee in the long run.”
You can offset rising costs by asking your pro to find more budget-friendly materials and methods. “We think laterally about how a great design result can still be achieved by using alternative materials and implementing increased efficiencies,” Jonathan says. “For example, on a domestic extension, we ensure the design is carefully considered to reduce the level of structural work needed, which can reduce overall costs.”
He also suggests you look at ways to save on the superstructure (walls, floor and roof), which is where a large part of the cost goes. “By using alternative methods, such as thermally insulated SIP panels for the roof and walls, there are savings to be made,” he says. “They are more efficient in the long term, and save time on site, all of which can save money.”
Conor adds to this list by suggesting you consider prefab construction, standardisation, alternative suppliers and ‘off-the-shelf’ products, which can be designed into the project as a method of cost-engineering.
The key is to ask your professional for their expertise. “A good firm will be able to not only create a bespoke space, but do that in an efficient and considered way,” Jonathan says.
Sometimes a quote can be adapted if you’re willing to ask your professional to negotiate. “On review of a tender price, it may be possible to identify where a contractor has priced in the risk of potential increasing material costs,” Conor says. “A contractor may be open to the idea of adopting an ‘open book’ approach, where the supply price of certain materials can be reviewed and agreed at the time of ordering.”
He says this could be beneficial if the material prices do start to come down during construction. “However, there is also the risk that prices continue to rise, which the client would have to accept when accurate supply costs are provided at the time of ordering,” he adds.
Don’t waste money on fittings and features you don’t really need, say our experts.
“Do your homework, and think very carefully about what you do and don’t need,” Jonathan says. “A brief that’s carefully honed with your architect will allow the design to be efficient, and give you exactly what you want, but still with some architectural flair.
“Also, spend money wisely on the bits you touch and see,” he continues. “This all adds to the experience. For example, superb ironmongery or beautiful surfaces can transform a kitchen while using more standard units ‘behind the scenes’.”
Are you finding that rising costs are affecting your renovation? Has your professional been able to mitigate these fluctuations to some extent? Share your thoughts in the Comments.