January is traditionally a time when people decide to blitz or redecorate their house – me included, I’ve been doing a few bits and pieces on my own house this month!

Earlier this week a friend asked me for any tips on renovations for her new house, to keep the budget down.

Caught me a little off guard; bizarrely it’s not something I’m asked often!

But I do have some tips for keeping costs down during refurbishment project, what with being a tight Yorkshire lass and that – and here are a couple, just to assist you with your own houses! 👍


Make a full list of everything you want to do, and be specific about every job required in every room.

Work out your budget for doing this.

What can be done now, what will have to wait?

What’s the priority?

Get any ‘big / all over the house’ jobs done first, eg electrics, plumbing, plastering. Get quotes for any skilled works you need doing (and ALWAYS qualified people for gas and electric work!)

If you’re living in the house it whilst you do it up, save your sanity and decide which are the priority areas you’ll do first. Don’t try and do more than two areas at once whilst living there, unless you can handle a lot of stress, mess and chaos… because on the other hand, living in chaos usually motivates you to do the decorating work in the evenings to get it finished!

Project manage yourself, rather than hire an ‘all in one’ refurbishment company, who usually charge a premium for this service. Source individual trades and contractors yourself. 

Recommendations of tradespeople are best, from friends that have actually used their services. Read reviews if you’re unsure, see their work, or pictures of it, then invite them around to quote. Be specific in telling them exactly what you want.


And don’t just accept the first and only quote, as some tradesmen sadly still like to try it on and take advantage of people and give them ridiculous overinflated prices because they think they can get away with it…and you can rant and rave and complain at me all you like saying that doesn’t happen – but I can assure you it does!

So get a couple of quotes, and don’t book anyone you get a bad gut feeling about, or anyone who annoys you whilst quoting.

For example, patronising, arrogant, unhelpful misogynists who call me ‘love’ and don’t listen are a big no-no for me. You don’t have to book anyone that you don’t like.

Plenty more tradesmen in the sea, we don’t need to employ wretches!


Also be aware that the cheapest is not always the greatest.

My electrician is not the cheapest in the area, but that’s ok, because he’s the best! It is ok to pay for quality.

After you’ve had any skilled trades in to do work you’re not skilled or qualified for, work out the DIY and decorating things you can do yourself. 

Obviously doing things yourself is much cheaper in terms of cost, if you can afford the time. YouTube and the internet can be a great help in showing you how to do specific tasks. 

But be aware of your own limitations and safety; no silly, dangerous risks, and use adequate personal protective equipment. If ever in doubt, get a professional in!

Decide what items you want that have to be brand new, non-negotiables – for the rest, a lot of good stuff can be found second-hand on Facebook marketplace.

Be wary when buying anything electrical, but things like furniture, mirrors, decor etc can all be considered – and a lot of time, these things are in good condition and sometimes unopened new surplus items.

For instance, there’s masses and masses of internal doors available locally for collection cheaply or free currently, because landlords are having to replace certain ones for fire doors. Doesn’t mean the old ones are no good, they’re just surplus to that person’s requirements!


Shop around for products, don’t be scared to use ‘trade’ firms like Selco, Screwfix, Howdens; they’re often not that choosy if you’re ‘trade’ or not.

If you find a particular product you like, get Googling the named product for a better price!

For instance, I’m contemplating a wallpaper myself called ‘Superfresco Glamorous Tweed Charcoal’ at the minute – I’m huffing and puffing because it’s £18 a roll in Wilkos – but a quick Google shows me it’s £12.99 a roll at The Range!

So if I go for it, that’s where I’ll go for it!

And yes, it might only be a fiver difference a roll, but I’ll need 3 – 4 rolls – and I’d rather spend that extra £20 on a steak at Miller & Carter!

Decent undercoat is the future on poor or new woodwork before glossing – gloss is dearer, and sits better once on an undercoat paint.

Ditto white matt paint on walls before your expensive colour. It helps your paint hue get the correct colour on the tin. If walls are a bit rough, but not so bad that they need a full plaster, consider a textured wallpaper, then paint a colour on.

Remember we talked about shopping around for the same product?

Paint varies vastly from store to store, even the exact same brand/type, so keep your eyes peeled! Also look out for offers, deals, coupons and such like.

And just gerronwi’it, don’t put it off and off once you’ve got the stuff, as well as being an annoyance, you run the risk of your materials going off or spoiling.

I once put off wallpapering my bay window wall for aaaages after it had been damp-coursed. Then when finally got round to it, I was very annoyed with myself for putting off for so long a small finishing task that literally took me an hour to do.

You’ll never finish if you don’t start…just gerronwi’it!

So there’s a couple of tips to get you started… and don’t forget to take ‘before and after’ photographs so you can see the transformation, and give yourself a pat on the back for your hard work.

Also follow various DIY / project / refurbishment groups for more tips and ideas, as well as inspiration… my favourite at the minute is a Facebook group called ‘DIY on a Budget’.

Good luck, and happy renovating! 👍

Kellyann x x x


Kellyann is a property investment strategist from Leeds. 

In her work she creates wealth for private investors through refurbishing properties. 

Visit her website for more details:

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