Making a new studio is hard at the best of times but when you are on a very tight budget it is even harder. Our whole budget for our garage conversion is $5,000 NZD max (less if possible) To show you how tight this can be in NZ, a set of french doors start at $1000 without fitting and a the jib alone will be close to $900.
The before picture
This challenge is a good opportunity to get the creative juices flowing, to think outside the square and to make things work in a way that is new and exciting. Limited budgets seem to do this so well. If the skys the limit often there is more waste, less challenge and no where near as much creativity.
There are so many ways to stick to a budget and to creatively use what you already have or what is in your community for free.
- Evaluate what strengths you have. Try and do as much as you can yourself but be willing to admit when something is beyond your capabilities as sometimes it costs more to fix what has been done wrong than to have asked a professional to start with.
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN I can't stress this enough. It is better to spend time planning than money fixing things that weren't planned properly. We use this on-line floor planner to sort out layouts and to see how everything will look at the end.Take time to look at layouts as there is nothing more frustrating than doing a project like this and then finding out the furniture that was going in this room won't fit how you wanted it too or all the power points are in the wrong place. Plan the light fittings, phone jacks and power points early on to make sure all your wiring is in the right place. It is is so hard to change wiring later.
- Always add a 5-10% buffer on your budget as there will always be something you are not expecting. We already have a leak in the corner of the room so the outside cladding will need replacing in that corner.
- Have a look around your house and see if you already have what is needed for part of the project. We have already found two old French doors and a wardrobe door that can be re-purposed for what we need.
- If you can try and re use any wood etc you are ripping out. A lot of supplies can be re used. We are reusing the hardboard to pack out the wood so that the jib can sit properly on the walls and we are also using the existing garage floor. We are planning on grinding and polishing it.
- Call in favours. This is the time for calling in all those favours from friends, neighbours etc for a bit of help. We have a mate who is a builder who has been great at giving us advice and also another who is a electrician who is going to do all the final wiring for us.
- Talk too people. We have just got ourself a free window for the back of the garage just because I was talking to a friend who happens to have house lot of windows in storage.
- Check out the inorganic collections, on-line auction sites, and things like free cycle. It amazing what people throw out. I have picked up 2 tables and a wardrobe for free by being in the right place at the right time
- Look out for specials. Most companies have a cycle they follow for putting their products on special. Learn how they do this. IE the supermarkets follow an 8 week cycle, so what you want will come on special at some point.
- If you only want small amounts of product sometimes you can pick up them from huge building jobs, off cuts or left overs. My hubby was looking for some plastic wrap to cover the hole in the garage so he asked at a local store but the wrap only comes by the roll (100 m) A little too much for what we needed but the shop keeper had some left over plastic from wrapping product on pallets that did the job perfectly for free.
- Research well. Pinterest is a great site to give great ideas for half the price.
- Talk to other people who have done renovations and ask them what they would have done differently. Experience is a great teacher. Learn from others mistakes.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. DIY stores are a great source of free information. Talk to people and get help if needed.
- Be creative with space. We have a raised concrete slab in the garage and we weren't sure what we were going to do with it. It would have taken days to grind it down and it would have been very expensive and it didn't look very pretty so we are making it into a cupboard. I need the storage and it is a good way to hide an ugly eye sore.
- If you have furniture you can use in the space but none of it matches paint it all the same colour. White aqua gloss works well. Alternately if it is all wooden furniture you could sand, stain and varnish all the furniture the same. It is amazing what a difference this makes.