But a friend of mine was invited to a â€śtender opening partyâ€ť not long ago.
The idea was for guests to gather for nibbles and drinks while the hosts opened up the buildersâ€™ quotes for their upcoming renovation.
Thatâ€™s definitely one of the strangest excuses for a shindig Iâ€™ve heard of.
In the end, the renovators decided to skip the soiree and just open up their quotes in private, which was very fortunate as it wasnâ€™t the jolly occasion they anticipated.
The quotes they received â€” more than double the budget they had in mind â€” left them reeling in shock, and in a far from festive mood.
This quote shock comes as no surprise to architect Amelia Lee, who is the brains behind website Undercover Architect, which is a resource for renovators and those planning to build a new home.
â€śThereâ€™s an old saying that renovations take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expect,â€ť Ms Lee said.
â€śAnd at the start of a project there is definitely a mismatch with what people want to spend and what can be achieved.
â€śMost clients come with a brief and a budget that is only 50-75 per cent of where it needs to be to achieve their brief.â€ť
So, what steps can you take to prevent a nasty surprise when the buildersâ€™ quotes come in?
Here, Ms Lee shares her tips (essential reading for anyone planning on hosting a tender opening party that doesnâ€™t end in tears).
Adding up the costs
Ms Lee recommended doing your research to ascertain what other houses in your area were selling for with renovations like the one you had in mind.
This could help determine how much money was sensible to spend on your project.
â€śThen work out how much you are actually prepared to spend by figuring out what you really want from the project, and how it fits into the big picture of your life,â€ť she said.
â€śWill you just be staying in the house for a few years or is it a long-term family home? Do you want to spend an extra $15,000 on that high-end kitchen or do you want to have family holidays once in a while?â€ť
Out in the open
Once youâ€™ve settled on an appropriate budget, donâ€™t hide it from your designer or other project team members.
â€śA good designer is not out to overspend your budget. The ability of those you work with to give you useful and helpful advice relies on the information you give them, so be honest,â€ť Ms Lee advised.
The earlier you start getting quotes on your project, the better your chances of avoiding quote shock.
â€śPeople will often spend months working with a designer or a draftsperson and itâ€™s only later when they speak to a builder that they find out a realistic cost,â€ť Ms Lee said.
Her advice is to try and get a builder involved early on so you can adjust your plans to meet your budget before getting too far along with the planning and approval process.
There might be a fee charged for the early quote, and it might only be a ballpark figure, but it will save money and stress in the long run.
Ms Lee also recommended getting a quote from a quantity surveyor or builder before lodging plans for council approval.
That way, you wonâ€™t spend too much time and money having designs approved that you canâ€™t afford.
Making it work
The quotes are too high â€” now what?
â€śThere can be a horrible feeling of demoralisation when people realise they canâ€™t afford to do what they initially wanted to do,â€ť Ms Lee said.
â€śBut itâ€™s usually possible to work with the budget people have and still make worthwhile transformations to their home and lifestyle â€” it just might not look like the picture they initially had in their head.â€ť
To reduce renovation costs, she recommended:
â– Focus on quality over quantity. Even with fewer rooms, the design can be good and suit your needs.
â– Donâ€™t splash out on fancy materials. Keep costs down by using traditional, off-the-shelf materials in interesting ways.
â– Use clever, timesaving design ideas. For example, keep all the wet areas close together to reduce plumbing costs.
â– Add some elements later. Your financial situation might be more comfortable in the future, so consider a design that allows for more features to be added later on.