At the heart of any budget should be a very, very good spreadsheet. I worked on the budget for my self build project with my quantity surveyor, who gave me the bones and I have spent many nights adding in costs and fine-tuning.

However, when you think your budget is just right, you get to the end of a stage and find out you were off. Fortunately for me, at this stage we are around £5,000 under (a first in self build history maybe?).

We are keeping on time and budget because I have taken on the role of contractor and living on site has allowed a greater level of project management. But here are a few tips I have that will really help your to stick to your budget:

  1. Get an accurate costing and leave stuff in if you think it has been overestimated. This gives you a greater contingency that the standard 15–20% you will add on anyway.
  2. Use your quantity surveyor’s expertise to help you make sure you get the best deals. Their costings should work as a benchmark when receiving quotes.
  3. If you are project managing or on site a lot, you can risk paying your subcontractors on day rates. You will be there to manage deliveries and tidy the site at the end of the day, rather than expecting them to do it.
  4. Buy in bulk.
  5. Rope in friends and family to help with non-skilled work such as moving materials round the site and tidying up (it is a nice gesture to slip them a bit of cash in return).
  6. Get multiple quotes for materials. Loyalty to your regular supplier is a nice idea, but if they can’t give you the best deal, look around.
  7. Recycle, sell or trade surplus and waste materials from any demolition work.
  8. It can sometimes be cheaper to buy and sell on, than hire. Plant is a good example, but even portacabins or portaloos can be bought and sold.
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