4 ways to budget for home improvement projects



Painting With Dog

After a couple of years spent stuck inside, a growing number of us are looking for ways to get creative and spruce up our homes.

From picking up paintbrushes and adding a new splash of paint, to project managing a complete makeover, many of us are turning our hands to a whole host of home improvements.

Our research shows that more than half (56%) of homeowners say their homes are currently a work in progress. However, when it comes to taking on the task in hand, for many it can feel like there are lots of potential barriers – whether it be finding the motivation to get started or setting time aside.

Another potential barrier is budgeting. Our research shows that nearly four in 10 (39%) homeowners underestimated how much their home improvement job would cost, with many admitting that a bigger budget would help them complete their unfinished jobs.

So, to help DIYers, we have developed a four-point plan to help budget for your next home improvements project.


  1. Understand what you want to achieve with this project


    The first step is to establish your ambitions for the job at hand. It’s difficult to understand how you’ll budget for any home improvement project without knowing what work needs to be done, and the quality of materials involved.

    After all, a fresh coat of paint will cost significantly less than a full kitchen remodel. Once you understand the end goal, you can begin to figure the costs associated with getting the project done, and you’ll start to get a better idea of where you may need to economise on the choices you make.

    Do your research. Take time to understand how you’re going to carry out the job, what tools and expertise you’ll need to complete it and any helpful tips to make your money go further. If you need to hire a professional, make sure you clearly outline what you want them to do achieve and your set budget and timeline.

    For everything you need to consider before planning a home improvement, you can read more in our guide here.

  2. Decide what your priorities are


    You may be considering a home improvement because you need more space, or perhaps you simply fancy giving your living area a new lease of life.

    Whatever the reason is, we often have more than one project we want to undertake, but may not have the tools to facilitate doing everything at once. This is where you may need to make some decisions on which projects to prioritise.

    Start by making a list of all the things you want to change – whether it’s fitting new kitchen units or installing a new boiler. Create a list in order of priority, taking any time or budgeting considerations into account as part of this. Some jobs might affect another so try to figure out what is best to begin with. For example, you might not want to put up shelving before you’ve painted your walls.

    Try to get a range of quotes from suppliers to contrast and compare. Then, create a spreadsheet which lists cost proponents for each job. It’s a good idea to have clear costings from suppliers and professionals you might hire before committing. If you can, try to set aside some budget for any unexpected costs that might arise and be clear with your budget. Double check when quotes are valid for as if you exceed this time the cost might change.

    By creating a clear list of costs you’ll be able to see what you can realistically achieve with your current time and resource. It’s important to be realistic with your capabilities to avoid having to start a job without being able to finish it.  

  3. Get hands on and upcycle where you can


    Sometimes, even with the best intentions, projects might have to be scaled back and kept within a lower budget. So, if you’ve mapped out your project, and it’s looking more expensive than you can comfortably spend, consider other more affordable ways to spruce up your home.

    We live in the age where contemporary upcycling ideas are easily available online. DIY hacks represent one of the more unique ways to keep existing furniture in your house and practice a little creativity and crafting skills. According to our research, more than two thirds (68%) use Instagram for their home improvement inspiration – with a range of free ideas available at the tips of your fingertips.

    For instance, upcycling old furniture sets is a sustainable and cost-effective way to bring old chairs, sofas and tables into the modern day. A splash of paint and new drawer knobs can go a long way in terms of creating a contemporary feel for an otherwise dated look. Make the most of sourcing inspiration from social media and design blogs – plus consider creating a moodboard to visualise your end goal.

    Savvy DIYers can also explore local charities and thrift shops; not only is it likely to be more cost-effective, you can find truly unique pieces to add a touch of character to your home.

  4. Think about the cost vs the value


    Another benefit of carrying out home improvements is how it can sometimes add value to your home.

    For certain properties, creating a more modern and contemporary feel and the functionality of rooms within a home can really add the ‘wow’ factor when it comes to selling.

    For example, upgrading an old bathroom or retiling a kitchen floor can really transform a space from what it once was and could add value in the long term. After all, if you plan to invest in a home renovation then it’s likely you’ll want to try and see a return on the value of your home in future.

    It helps to do as much research as possible before starting a project. It’s also worth considering that certain design preferences aren’t for everyone. It’s a good idea to think about whether you want to upgrade your home for you or for sale. For more information, you can read our guide on three home improvements that could add value here.


The bottom line

While it can be tempting to commit to home improvement projects, it is important to stay realistic about what you can and can’t afford.

It’s no secret that some renovation projects can be a big investment – both in the short, medium and long-term – so creating a budget is an essential part of the process and helps work out if you can really afford it. For anyone who commits to a home renovation project, it is important to regularly update your budget to keep a firm handle on costs.

There are several different options to choose from when looking to finance a home improvement project including using your own savings or getting a personal loan but the best finance option for your project will depend entirely on your own personal situation.

Read our ultimate guide to financing your next home improvement to find out more about the different options available for your next project.


Shawbrook conducted research with market research company OnePoll to survey 2,000 homeowners in the UK to understand sentiment towards DI-Y home improvements. Research was conducted from 12 May – 16 May 2022.

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