Re-Constructing Home: Part 18: Creating a Reno Budget

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One renovation factor strikes fear into the heart of almost every homeowner: the budget. The budget fear-factor stems from a) money being a relatively precious commodity to most of us and b) a complete lack of understanding of how the renovation budgeting process actually works. But budgeting doesn’t have to remain a mystery.

Here are some quick tips to make the budgeting process manageable:

  1. Consider the goals for the renovation. Do you want more space? Do you need to create functionality in the existing space? What is your ultimate motivation? Once you’ve identified the goals, make decisions that help you stick to them. For instance, if you want to redo the bathroom to make it more functional for all 3 children in your family, the countertops don’t have to be granite to achieve the goal of functionality.
  2. Consider how much you are willing to invest. Renovations don’t exponentially increase the value of your home. If you are renovating in order to sell, figure you might get back about half of what you put in. On the other hand, if you plan on being in your home for a while, these renovations are for you. So only you can decide what they are ultimately worth.
  3. Get detailed quotes from the contractors. Know what you want before you call to get quotes. The more specific you can be about what you want, the more likely you are to get quality results with fewer surprises. Make sure the contractor is including all the costs—labor, materials, shipping, permitting. Ask them for a final out-the-door figure.
  4. Pad your budget. Once you’ve chosen a contractor, look at their budget and add 10-20%. This will give you some wiggle room if and when the unexpected occurs. Renovations tend to get messy—physically and emotionally. Even the best contractor can’t account for every circumstance that might occur. Think of the 10-20% as insurance on your peace of mind during the reno process.
  5. Pause before making any major decisions. Be in constant contact with your contractor. Even if you feel rushed to make a decision, mull it over. Quick decisions lead to either regret or wasted money—or both. If you are struggling to make a decision, go back to your goals. Weigh out your options, and choose the one that best meets your renovation and budgetary goals.

Going into a renovation with a carefully constructed budget doesn’t guarantee there won’t be surprises. But it increases your chance of not going over budget–and of ultimately being satisfied that you got the best renovation for your money when all is said and done.

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