DIY · How to? · Project Financing

Budget Pt. 2

House spreadsheet

So here it is.  My life in a spreadsheet. OK that’s a bit sad – It’s just DIY financials.

But it’s so easy to update and we have been able keep track of our house budget, every step of the way.

Everyone has different preferences for keeping track of budget; some prefer apps others prefer paper book keeping and I like spreadsheets.

I try to keep things simple, but inevitably my colourful data mine takes some explaining.  Even Tom can’t get his head round it at times.

For that reason, I won’t try to explain my spreadsheet row by row, but here’s a few of my top tips for budgeting all things DIY, no matter how big or small the job; one room or a whole house.

  • Start by breaking each job down (split it further by room if applicable).

If there are jobs applicable to the whole house such as re-carpeting, replacing skirting or replacing doors, I’d put these under a General category.

Go into as much detail as possible; you’ll see under my ‘bathroom’ example, we’ve got lining paper and painting as separate ‘jobs’ and bath/sink/toilet (buying & installing) + labour as separate jobs.  Essentially, anything which has its own ‘cost’ attached should be a separate item so you can easily add the cost component in later.

  • Have a column for the ‘source’ aka origin, shop, brand etc… however is best for you to describe where you have or intend to buy the relevant product from.

This is really useful for future projects so you can check where you purchased something from previously and also handy for just making a note (tip: copy a website link) of something you’ve seen and like, but haven’t bought yet.

  • Before you start, cost up the project.

It’s easy to guestimate and a lot quicker too, but I’d recommend taking time to research here, before you start.  Costs start to rack up quickly and sometimes there’s no going back!

No need to say any more on this one, apart from it’s the most important part!!

  • Once you’re all set, prioritise your ‘jobs’.

We’ve definitely learnt that whilst it might sound great to start with the ‘fun’ and ‘easy’ jobs, you can end up all over the place with no one room (in our instance) complete and bits and bobs to do in each which isn’t very satisfying, nor practical if you’re living in the house.

Take a targeted approach; consider which rooms are the most important, then when the best times to get the ‘big’ rooms done i.e. bathroom & kitchen – could you tie it in with going away? How long will you be without a shower for? What are your options for washing up or keeping clean (Gym membership helps from experience…)? Do you have a portable stove for the kitchen? Can you live on microwaved sweet potato jackets..?!

  • Conditional format and colour code the hell out of it (for all excel based plans…)

I’ve got an estimated cost column and actual cost column and have conditional formatted the latter to prompt when we’re under/on budget (green) and over budget (red).  Really easy to do (

My other colourful addition is coding when jobs have yet to be started (no colour, very depressing), when a job has been started, or the item bought but not yet installed (orange – when there’s lot of these don’t freak out) and green for all jobs complete (= happy Hayley).

FYI: The yellow in my spreadsheet is just to highlight where something needs to either be sent back or something needs to be updated in the spreadsheet – usually I’m waiting on Tom to find the receipts.

  • Don’t ignore your plan.

The worst thing you can do is to create a wonderful masterplan and then not open it up regularly to review.  Yes, jobs take longer, more jobs are often required (suggest adding these as you go along!), priorities change and inevitably your budget and plan will change, but going back to your masterplan will probably help keep you sane throughout all of that.

If something is going over budget, you’ll be able to see clearer where you might be able to save; we had a dropped kerb quote for double what we’d budgeted and I almost cried but we’ve re-worked things and actually the carpets are coming in about half of what we budgeted so all is OK – and we were easily able to work this out in the tracker sheet.

Well this has turned into more of an essay than a blog post, but I hope this helps anyone reading!


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