Approaching your home remodel without a budget is like going to a casino with your life savings. The odds are stacked against you, but you’re hoping for a big win.
In other words, it’s a risky proposition. Without a budget, you’re more likely to overspend, make impulsive decisions and end up with a project that takes longer and costs more than expected.
For best results, it’s essential to establish and track your budget during a home remodel and, equally as necessary, to partner with a contractor you trust. Here are tips to guide you as you create your remodeling budget.
Research and Planning
Whether your home remodeling project is a modest update, a significant renovation or somewhere in between, thorough research and planning are must-dos to help you maximize your investment while getting the finished living space you want.
- Do your research.
- Understand market trends. For example, if you see yourself moving in the next five years, pay attention to the upgrades that home buyers are willing to pay more for, such as a primary bathroom or kitchen remodel. These indicators might help you prioritize your projects and your selections for materials and finishes to increase your returns.
- Gather inspiration. Loosely outline your project by viewing galleries on Pinterest and Houzz or other social channels, as well as home improvement websites or newsletters. And gather ideas from remodeling experts.
- Create a vision for your home remodeling project.
- Identify your project scope. Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve with your home remodeling project. Do you need more room for entertaining family and guests? Are you looking for more functional storage? Are there specific problems in your home you need to address?
- Add specific features and functionality. After you’ve outlined your project vision, add details regarding how you want the remodeled space to live. For example, you might want to create a family-friendly mudroom with a dog wash, bench seating, lockers or cubbies and a drop space with a charging station.
- Update aesthetics, fit and finishes. Finally, color your outline with specifics about design style, finishes, materials, colors you love, etc., to complete your project vision board.
- Find the right contractor.
- Go with a pro. Finding the right contractor partner can make or break your remodeling project. So, do your homework—research licensed contractors who have experience with projects like yours. And, just as you would with any other major purchase decision, read reviews, talk to friends and then reach out and meet with your contractor to be sure you’ve found a comfortable fit.
- Plan meticulously.
- Set clear objectives. As you begin discussions with your contractor, provide your general project vision and budget range (if you have one) and be prepared to ask questions about the time frame, special requirements, etc.
- Share your vision. At this early stage, be proactive with your contractor. Share your collected materials, inspiration or vision board, photographs and any other items specific to your project that can help your remodeling partner understand your vision and goals. Remember that the more project information you provide upfront can help your contractor guide you through the planning phase, ultimately affecting their ability to create a detailed budget.
Project Timeline and Prioritization
If you’re not a contractor, you might not be aware of all the factors that affect a remodeling project, such as seasonal supply issues or weather implications. To help align your expectations with reality, consider all elements that may affect your project timeline and budget.
- How the project timeline can impact costs.
- Meeting deadlines. While all contractors are different, at Dover, we establish project timelines and budgets based on the scope of work, approved drawings and other factors such as seasonal issues (like holidays), securing required permits, availability of contractors, etc. We consider all that as we plan our work and create a contract with a budget and completion date. Understand that it’s a two-way street: as a homeowner, you must approve the budget and contract so that work can begin on time. Making changes and holding up the process on your end can impact both the time frame and budget. For example, material costs could increase over time, or fixtures may be out of stock.
- Off-season vs. peak season remodeling. In NE Ohio, the weather can have an impact on home remodeling. Work can take longer when managing the freezing winter temperatures and snow. If you have the ability to choose your start date, go with a date in the fall when the temperature, humidity levels and overall conditions are optimal for the maximum number of workable days and productivity. (Note: Dover’s costs remain the same year-round. But make sure the same is true of your contractor before you commit, as some contractors charge higher rates during peak season.)
- Aligning with contractor availability. Summer and fall are typically the busiest times for contractors. Because lead time is crucial to securing a contractor partner, as soon as you decide to move ahead with your home remodel, reach out to your contractor to get on their schedule.
- Prioritizing projects.
- Determine which projects yield the most value. To manage your budget wisely, consider which projects are worth your investment now and which updates can wait. If your remodel is in preparation for putting your house on the market, prioritize kitchen and bathroom remodels and flooring upgrades, as these offer the most significant ROI. On the other hand, if your project is purely to suit your needs and lifestyle, choose the project that will make you happiest living in your space.
- Balance aesthetics with functionality. To help keep your budget in check, be flexible with your needs and wants. Prioritize functionality above all and then, as needed, select fixtures or finishes that give you the look you want but at a more affordable price point. For example, invest in slide-outs, built-ins and drawers in your cabinetry, but opt for brushed brass hardware instead of copper if you need to reduce costs.
Project remodeling budgets include a host of factors. Understand what you’re paying for and how to cut costs by making more informed, educated choices.
- Labor vs. material costs.
- The correlation between experience and cost. The adage rings true with home remodeling: You get what you pay for. Generally, the cheapest option is not always the best quality. So, again, do your homework, check references, read reviews and choose a licensed contractor for your home improvement work.
- Working with a remodeling expert rather than individual contractors. When possible, choose a remodeling partner who will efficiently manage your project from end to end. Juggling multiple contractors for different project elements can lead to confusion, wasted time and the need for re-work, which means added costs. At Dover, our approach mitigates the risk of unlicensed contractors, costly overages and changing material costs. You know precisely what you’re getting because we provide an up-front, in-writing project scope and budget.
- Choose materials wisely. When choosing materials and fixtures for your remodel, invest in your floors. Flooring takes the most abuse, is crucial to the aesthetics of your living space and offers exceptional ROI.
- Don’t overlook installation. To maximize the longevity and durability of your remodel, select high-quality materials and a contractor partner who provides professional installation to ensure integrity and performance. Don’t forget: Material installation must be completed per manufacturers’ instructions to meet product warranty guidelines.
Budget Contingency and Unexpected Costs
When it comes to home remodeling, failing to plan is planning to fail—especially when you’re trying to stick to a budget, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
- Set aside an additional budget for the project.
- Protect yourself. At Dover, we provide a written quote up-front based on approved plans, selections, time frame and more. Our team works to provide the most accurate quote, but sometimes once walls are opened up and floors removed, some changes may arise. Since we don’t know what we can’t see, it’s always best to set some money aside to cover unexpected charges.
- Plan for changes. Inspiration can strike during the project, which could justify changing plans or adding to the scope—but understand that change orders affect the budget. Just get a written estimate for any changes to the scope of work and/or material selections before moving forward so you know what to expect.
- Ancillary items. Your remodeling project may inspire you to purchase new items like furniture, appliances, artwork or things outside of the contractor’s work. Try to identify these items in advance or, at the very least, set money aside or a percentage of the main budget for these add-on purchases.
- Adjust plans based on a formalized budget as needed.
- Re-evaluate project priorities. Again, Dover provides a scope of work upfront, which includes project drawings, material selections, budget and timeline. You’ll know exactly what you’re paying for in advance.By reviewing your final budget at the front end, you can make informed decisions about whether any elements of your project plan need to be changed.
- Budget for alternative accommodations.
- Can you stay in your home during the remodel? It’s wise to consider in advance whether you’ll be comfortable staying in your home during the renovation. Depending on your family’s needs, you may need to make temporary arrangements (consider everyday living and work-from-home needs). Consider what additional living expenses you must carry during the remodeling process and add to your budget.
Hiring the Right Contractor
Managing your home remodeling project with quality results, on time and within budget is possible when you work with a trusted contractor partner. Don’t compromise. Find a contractor that checks all the boxes:
- The vetting process.
- Check licenses, insurance and certifications. Do your research to make sure your contractor is qualified and insured.
- Read reviews and seek recommendations. Don’t just listen to what the contractor says about their work. Instead, seek input from those who know firsthand: Read online reviews, check the Better Business Bureau website and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
- Align your budget and vision.
- Be open about budget constraints. If you have a bottom-line number that you can’t deviate from, let the contractor know upfront. At Dover, we can often make suggestions for materials, fixtures and more that will still give you the final end result but may work better for your project and budget.
- Ensure the contractor understands your project vision. Be prepared with vision boards, photographs and other materials to show your contractor precisely what you want. Then, be sure the contractor provides project drawings and plans so you can sign off on the work before it begins.
- Check their portfolio. Make sure your contractor can manage your project: Ask for project examples similar to yours—think website portfolio or project blogs—for added peace of mind.
If you are looking for a Northeast Ohio home remodeling contractor to manage your project on time and budget, contact Dover Home Remodeling.
The best is yet to come,