15 Tips for Sticking to a Home Remodeling Budget

by Cheryl Wright
Tips for Sticking to a Home Remodeling Budget photo

A remodeling budget can get away from you easier than you might think. To keep costs in check, use these tips for sticking to your budget when improving your home.

Setting a budget and then sticking to it will help make your remodeling project a success. And yes, you can stay within budget when remodeling. The key is to plan well and watch the details.

You should also be fully involved in the project from its first stages until the last product is installed and paid for.

Here are fifteen tips to help you keep your project’s price from escalating.

1. Establish a budget and share it.

Be honest with the salesperson, and interior designer about the amount you want to spend. This will help them show you products that fit within your budget from the very beginning.

If the professional can’t work within your budget, he or she should tell you so.

2. Budget for emergencies.

Set aside about 10 percent of your budget for emergencies. If you sign a contract for the maximum figure you can afford, you’ve left no room for changes or emergencies that may arise once the project begins.

Money left over at the end can be used for accessorizing the room without going over the budget.

3. Don’t jump at the lowest bid.

It may not be the best deal. You’re not going to get something for nothing.

Be very skeptical if a contractor drops his bid to compete with someone else’s lower bid. Some contractors are going to use their knowledge of the industry to cut costs and cut quality. If you realize this after construction has begun, you’re going to spend more money to bring the project up to your standards.

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4. Get a detailed contract.

Specific product names, model numbers and sizes should all be included. The more that gets written down, the less likely there will be misunderstandings. The more vague the contract, the more likely you’re going to have changes.

There is another important reason why everything from the number of electrical outlets to the materials to be used on the backsplash should be specified on paper. You’ll be able to double-check that what you pay for is what you are getting. The contractor won’t be able to take any shortcuts.

5. Don’t be swayed by current trends.

For example, second sinks in kitchens are popular. However, if only one person in your house cooks, there really is no need for a second sink.

Whirlpool tubs are great, but if you prefer to shower rather than bathe, why invest the extra money in one?

6. Leave room for upgrading later on.

Consider your new kitchen or bath a work in progress. Ask for professional help in planning the project in stages.

You might consider adding interior storage aides to cabinets later, rather than paying for them now. A less expensive new floor or countertop can be upgraded when you’re in a better financial position and ready for the change.

7. Keep an open mind about alternatives.

For example, consider vinyl flooring or even ceramic tiles in place of more expensive marble tiles.

There are a number of products that mimic the look of other products. Some flooring-product copies are so good you must get down on hands and knees to see the difference.

8. Prioritize.

You are responsible for establishing where you can compromise or cut back.

Maybe you’re willing to go with less expensive cabinets so you can have a solid surfacing countertop or glitzy commercial-style appliances. (See An Insider’s View on Kitchen Appliance Deals.)

9. Avoid making changes.

Once the remodeling project is under way, you may notice something that isn’t to your liking.

Speak up immediately. After all, you have to live in the space. Just keep in mind that changes cost money.

The contractor or designer can’t afford not to charge you for the change. However, every change costs time and, in the long run, money.

10. Get changes in writing.

Every change should be put in writing and attached to the contract. Never authorize any work without getting a signed change order.

11. Do it yourself.

The more work you do, the more money you save. In many cases, the largest portion of a subcontractor’s bill can be devoted to labor.

Some things to consider tackling yourself are painting, hanging wallpaper and demolition.

12. Reface the kitchen cabinets.

Refacing existing cabinets is considerably less expensive than installing new ones. However, do not reface cabinets that are falling apart.

13. Reuse some existing products.

Anything from decorative molding to the faucet can be reused in your new kitchen or bath, as long as they are in good shape.

Creative designers can find ways to blend older appliances into sparkling new surroundings. If your appliances are in good working condition, keep them.

14. Check the progress of the project regularly.

Ask the general contractor for progress reports every few days. This will keep you informed and alert you to slowdowns or changes that could cost you money later.

Make a personal inspection of the project every day if possible. If you see something you don’t like or don’t understand, tell the contractor. Catching a problem early on may be less expensive than waiting until the project proceeds further.

15. Do one project at a time.

It’s easy to get swept away during the remodeling job and decide to renovate more than you planned. Avoid the temptation to add a few furniture-like cabinets in the dining room to match the ones in the kitchen or expand the bedroom closet.

The things on your wish list that you cannot afford right now could always be financed at a later date. You surely don’t want to be faced with the horror that you spent every cent on remodeling a room when another family emergency arises.

So, ensure that each time you embark upon a remodeling project that you follow these tips to avoid going over budget.

Reviewed January 2022

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