With the current steep prices of real estate, buying a building or a new property is proving to be very financially involving.
This has seen a number of home owners resorting to carrying out renovations on their existing properties instead of going through the strain of acquiring a new ones.
Renovating a property is aimed at improving the value of the development as well as the quality of life in the property.
As with all upgrade works, a proper plan must be laid out to keep the costs in check, lest you spend an equal amount to that of constructing a new building.
Felix Onyango, the chief executive officer of Dominion Valuers Limited – a real estate firm – explains that to cut costs of upgrading a house or a property, one needs to be clear on the purpose of the renovation.
He states that in the case where it is a landlord renovating a rental house for instance, there is wisdom in considering the cost of the intended renovations vis a vis the difference it will make to the bottom line, that is, the rental income being received or additional rental income to be received as a result.
The real estate expert states that the home owner or a landlord, needs to create a budget before embarking on the renovation work. This will help one work within the limits of the finances available, which should have both estimated and unexpected costs.
Get multiple quotes
The next trick according to Onyango is obtaining several quotes before settling on a particular consultant or contractor for the project. This offers the opportunity to compare costs of the contractors or consultants before settling on the most economical one.
“This could help cut down costs rather than just picking the first "fundi" one gets,” he points out.
He also observes that using consultants like credible quantity surveyor, interior designer or contractor could help come up with creative solutions and give benchmarks depending on the scope of work. This may initially increase the cost but could, in the long run, be helpful in cost reduction courtesy of the experience and insights these professionals bring to the table.
The type of materials used will also determine whether the renovation exercise will be more expensive or not.
Onyango advises that an individual should consider recycling materials for some of the works rather than new in order to drive down the costs.
He states that it is possible to get high-spec looks without breaking the bank by picking mid-grade materials rather than high-end materials as well as those that are in line with the general finishes of the house.
The expert recommends that one carries out thorough shopping for materials to help reduce costs as some materials available in up-market stores could be available at a cheaper rate in some downtown stores.
“One should prudently examine the necessity of buying expensive materials as sometimes the high-end materials, which are usually more expensive, differ from the mid-range ones only in appearance.
“Where one sources for the materials is also a big factor. The farther away one goes, the more costly it might get as it involve a lot of cost in transportation. An individual should therefore be aware of this fact and find a way of getting around it” he adds.
The next measure that an individual can adopt to rein on the cost is by deciding to oversee the renovation project by him or herself while also adopting do-it-yourself (DIY) by handling small tasks like repainting. This will help in reducing amounts that would be payable to a supervisor.
“Buying the materials yourself rather than giving money to contractors could help save money as discounts are not pocketed by the contractor or whoever else might be shopping on your behalf,” he points out.
Keep it simple
According to Onyango, simplicity in renovations could also help cut down costs by one avoiding moving mechanicals such as changing the position of one’s kitchen sink or bathroom as this will consume a lot of money as opposed to one just complementing the structures in their current places.
“Doing simple fixes greatly helps in minimizing costs as opposed to getting rid of it altogether.”
Ephantus King’ori, the director of Abib Jaus Construction Company, a Nairobi-based firm concurs with Onyango explaining that most people wait until it is late to carry out renovations when the damage is extensive.
“Early detection of damages is essential to prevent extensive and expensive repairs. Sadly, most people leave it until more damage has been done,” King’ori says.
He also flags non-involvement where every bit of the renovation work is entirely left to the contractor as well as not shopping around for quotes, or materials puts one at a disadvantage leading to loss of potential savings in renovation projects.
“Not being realistic in terms of purpose of the renovation where there is no balance between the expectations from the renovations and what actually obtains after the same. This might lead to one sinking in a lot of money in renovation that does not necessarily translate to value in terms of rental income or property values.”