Keeping a tight leash on housing renovation costs can be a big challenge. Often, homeowners who are preparing their houses for sale find themselves up to their ears in cost overruns. Those who are conversant in the work of styling properties, on the other hand, know that when bringing in a tradesman to do specialised tasks you’re in a high-stakes game.

Depending on the particular trade, the hourly cost to employ a landscaper, a plumber, or an electrician can be through the roof, particularly if you don’t exercise a little control over yourself.

Cost overruns happen because many homeowners have had little experience in dealing with tradesmen and home renovation projects. The newbie home improver will make changes to the project on the fly, will fail to schedule tradesmen’s work effectively, and sometimes chat the bill up when they keep the craftsman from his work by distracting him.

Think of your tradesmen as you would your dentist or your surgeon. When they enter your door they are there to accomplish a specific task(s). You show them what problems you expect them to solve. Then you leave them alone to work their magic.

Your Budget

In theory, you already know about how much the project will cost. If you don’t, ask your home stylist. Remember that this particular professional knows at least ballpark figures about the cost of materials and the labour costs involved. When you have an idea about what must be done, you can sound like you’ve done your homework before the work begins. Believe it or not, there have been cases when an unscrupulous tradie will pad the bill by running up material and/or labour costs. When you can speak with some authority on what you think the job will cost, this is far less likely to happen.

Once you’ve agreed on a price estimate, stick to it. Don’t make changes to the scope of the work unless and until you thoroughly understand the cost ramifications. Don’t simply give the contractor carte blanche to fix the problem. You don’t need the kind of surprises that come from that.

If you find that you really want to change the scope of the work, find out how much the cost overrun will amount to before you authorise the change – then put it on paper. Misunderstandings are to be avoided at all costs.


The entire renovation or updating process can be complicated by poor scheduling. Time – and the money it means – can be doubled when you have two or three tradesmen trying to work in the same place at the same time. Again, turn to your home stylist. Your stylist is often asked to supervise an entire home improvement project alone. When people must move across country, they aren’t able to be there to attend to the project. Your home staging specialist is an old hand at making various parts of a project work in harmony according to time. Learn from the mistakes they have, no doubt, made in the past.


You need not feel compelled to entertain the tradesman while he’s in your home. Just go away and let the work begin – and end – without discussions about your golf game, his favourite football team, or politics, for that matter. Any distraction can bring about costly mistakes or slow your contractor down. They will probably not feel able to tell you to “get lost” but, trust us, they will wish you would. They simply want to get the work done and move on to the next job. They are not unfriendly, but they are well aware that you will baulk if the labour bill is higher than expected.

Renovations to your house may be unavoidable. If you want to keep them from being big, ugly financial fiascos you need to exercise some discipline. Fortunately, your home styling specialist can help.

Knowing ahead of time what the costs should be is a priceless tool. Your expert at styling properties can provide this information while you’re still in the planning process. Stylists also have the experience it takes to know how to schedule tradesmen in a way that keeps them out from under the feet of others. The resulting savings in time can save you a bundle. When it comes to home renovations and upgrades, the currency you calculate is time.  If you remember these time-saving hints, you may be able to keep the costs down. Good luck!

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