Budgeting for Your Home Remodel

Money. It is the driving factor in most home remodeling projects, but definitely a topic that no one really enjoys discussing. The budget conversation can make homeowners a little uncomfortable and even cause a bit of anxiety. But as you may or may not know, the expense of a remodeling job can cost a lot more than you had imagined. There are so many options for just about every aspect of the job, like cabinetry, flooring, countertop material. Each one of those categories has a vast price range, depending on your style. So in the end, it really boils down to how much do you want to invest in your home?

Instead of keeping your budget a secret through the estimate process, save yourself time and agony by sharing the amount you have decided to invest with your estimator and/or designer. By being upfront about your budget it puts you in charge of the design process. Giving clear parameters narrows down the vast number of choices and helps you (as the client) focus on what is most important in the remodeled space. The designer knows exactly what they are working with and can be creative in coming up with ideas to meet your needs while staying in budget. Plus, you won't be disappointed by selecting finishes that later turn out to be budget-busters. So here are a few helpful tips when developing your remodeling budget:

Determine Your Budget First

You may not have any construction experience, but you do know is what you will be comfortable spending. Before you meet with your contractor or designer sit down and make a list of your "must haves" for the space. Then make a list of details that would be nice to have, but you could live without. This will help the contractor/designer prioritize the budget. Based on your lists, we can give a ballpark figure and compare to what you're comfortable spending. Not only will this save time, but it will also help you avoid the sticker shock of a remodeling project with all the bells and whistles. At Winston Brown, we want to give you the most value for your hard-earned dollars. By establishing your budget early, it will give us a key ingredient to creating a design you are happy with!

Is Your Budget Realistic?

Thanks to all of those entertaining home remodeling shows on TV, most of us have an unrealistic idea of what things cost. What they don't tell you on the shows is that their budgets are based on suppliers and tradesmen discounting their pricing so that they can be included on the show. So while it's great that they did a complete kitchen remodel with top of the line cabinetry, special order tile, all new flooring, and expensive light fixtures for under $20,000, it's not realistic to think you will be able to get the same discounted pricing for your kitchen. Plus, pricing for labor and materials varies depending on your location, number of trades in the area, level of selected finishes, etc.

So as you're establishing your budget, do your homework. Check out Houzz's Real Cost Finder for ballpark figures on what an average remodel might cost. Or ask friends or family who may have recently completed a similar project. Just keep in mind that the cost of materials can change substantially over the span of just a few years.

Another pricing tip: After you have established your "all in" budget, subtract 15% to set aside. No matter how well your project is planned, there is always the potential for surprises. Sometimes everything looks pretty simple on the surface, then we tear into the wall and find an unexpected situation that increases the cost of work to be done. Having the extra money set aside will help you avoid major panic or having to cut something from the project that you had your heart set on.

What is Included in the Estimate

When our estimators and designers sit down with a client to discuss the contract, we go over every line to make sure our clients are fully aware of what they are getting for the amount of money they are spending. A lot of times our contracts include allowances for things like light fixtures, tile, and accessories. Make sure you understand what these allowances cover and what happens if you select items above or below the set allowance. If there is something missing on the contract, make sure you ask about it before you sign. Assuming something is included even though it's not listed will just cause delays later in the job and could increase expenses with change orders.

Talking about budgets and how much you are comfortable spending can feel intrusive or overwhelming. But understanding what you are working with early on in the remodeling process will help decrease stress and put you in control.