4 reasons why your neighbour’s renovation cost less than yours…

A common feature of renovating is the sudden appearance of your neighbour/ uncle/ frenemy who has ‘views’ on your renovation. Theirs was always, somehow, larger in scope yet cheaper, quicker and much less complicated than yours… 

While it is possible they are indeed experts in all aspects of managing a renovation and did a much better job than you are doing, here are 4 other possible explanations!

1. They did their renovation some time ago.

Almost everything gets more expensive over time. 

  • Inflation has effectively added 30% over the last 10 years.
  • VAT variations could have added up to 5% on the total
  • Fluctuating exchange rates on e.g. kitchen parts purchased from Europe will have had an impact of up to 20%

Sometimes more significantly, regulations governing planning, most aspects of construction and in particular health, safety and sustainability have become significantly stricter in the past 10 – 15 years. This means it takes longer and costs more to plan for and actually do. 

2. Their project was less complex than yours.

The cost of a renovation project (unfortunately) doesn’t just come down to the visible and/ or surface changes from ‘before’ to ‘after’. There are hidden aspects that can add costs such as;

  • Problems with the building; even apparently identical houses can harbour different problems that need fixing, such as structural peculiarities, DIY alterations made (often poorly) in the past, damp, poor insulation, drainage and/ or roof problems.
  • Specialist fees; apparently slight variations in scope can have a big impact on the cost/ complexity of specialist work such as planning laws, Party Wall Act considerations, freeholder permissions and architects.
  • Structural complexity; apparently small changes can sometimes require significant structural work and expensive bespoke materials – requiring Structural Engineering fees as well as additional material costs.
Exposed roof joist during loft extension construction
The complexity of a loft extension will depend on the existing structure
Acro props supporting ceiling during structural construction work
Structural changes add complexity to a renovation

3. You’ve chosen more expensive finishes than them.

Whisper it, but just maybe you’ve chosen higher quality finishes, furnishings and appliances than they did. As well as the cost of the materials, this can have an impact on the contractor’s labour costs – as they have to prepare and fit appropriately. 

Spreading an SLC to prepare for a wooden parquet floor
All white kitchen contemporary kitchen with beautiful natural light. Renovation by APM.
A beautiful wooden floor needs careful preparation

4. They/ their builder cut corners.

The construction industry is competitive, so contractors will often price close to their tolerable margins to win the job. If your friendly expert got a suspiciously good deal, it could be, well, suspicious. The contractor could have;

  • Avoided VAT, corporation and income tax by charging in cash or bartering.
  • Avoided income tax and NI contributions by paying workers in cash
  • Failed to meet comply with  Health & Safety (and other) requirements under the CDM2015 regulations (you’re also responsible for these…), or current building regulations.
  • Used poor quality materials/ inadequately skilled workers or cut corners elsewhere – resulting in work that will not stand the test of time.

Whatever the reason, if you are keen to get the best quality possible for your renovation budget, help with choosing reputable contractors and specialists (and arm yourself with advice from real experts), we can help. Get in touch.

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