His said that our experience is not a unique one: have a budget, have a plan, go to tender, comes back over budget.
His advice in this current financial climate: if we see a house that has been renovated, and we love - buy it. He says that whatever it would cost would still be less than our own renovation project. He has a point, and we know we may well be over capitalising, but for 25+ years, it wouldn't be so bad.
Anyway, food for thought.