What is your project? Talk to the professionals with experience! Share your budget with your architect and ask to partner early with a qualified contractor for preliminary cost estimates. Your “team” will work with you to help meet your expectations. Be honest and be clear.
Identify all the pieces of the budget: There are many items that will make up your budget – make sure you’ve covered them all. This may include everything from a rental during construction, moving/packing, decorating or updating furnishings, landscaping, architectural and engineering fees, permit costs, and finally financing costs if you are working with a lender. Try not to finish construction with nothing left for your dining room fixture or window coverings.
Know yourself: What’s a must have and where are you willing to compromise? Hand scraped hardwood floors, built-in commercial fridge – what’s a must and what’s negotiable? If you have to have it – then budget for it. If you just have to have the built-in fridge with panels to match the cabinetry or the beautiful range that costs as much as a European holiday . . . budget for it.
Expect to splurge. You are going to want to splurge – so plan for it. Pick and choose wisely. If you love to cook – plan to invest a bit more for that really special back splash tile or marble island countertop. Splurge on something that you will see, enjoy and appreciate every day. Trade off on things you can compromise on. By working closely with your team, you can budget wisely from the get go. With an integrated approach you can work with your architect and your builder to know what impact your decisions have on the cost of your project.
Have a contingency fund (set something aside for extras or the unexpected). Budget 15 – 20%. Especially with a renovation or remodel unexpected things come up – the bearing capacity of the soil, rotted wood, faulty or out of date wiring. The contingency is a must have in the budget – so please plan for it . As construction moves along you may reduce it, and if you don’t then it’s money in the bank. Plan on things taking a little longer than expected. Everyone wants to finish on time – but it might take an extra few weeks to put it all together – please plan for it.
Beware of scope creep. It just takes a few “while we are at it, we’ll just…” to really bust the budget – so stick to your plan. If you didn’t budget for it initially then it may not be that important. Be sure to talk with your builder when considering to add to the scope of your project. Don’t put your contractor on the spot when you later ask,“why is it costing so much and why is it taking so long?”
Do your homework. We know that sometimes it feels impossible to make every decision for a remodel. But you have to get out there and look. Don’t just rely on pretty pictures in magazines. Get your eyes and your hands on your appliances, your tile, your countertop materials. Take the time to look at sinks and faucets and tubs and know what you want. Don’t leave these decisions for “later”. Don’t just plug in an allowance and don’t wait for the contractor to have to push you to make choices – it isn’t his job.
Show up, have realistic expectations and say “thank you”! Both husband and wife should remain engaged throughout the project. Both. This is your home – remain involved. Trust your team – everyone is working to please you. Show up at site meetings to understand what has been accomplished and what lies ahead. Have patience and understanding. Show up and say thank you – some pastries and coffee would be nice too!
Communicate, communicate, communicate! If you aren’t sure about something – ask. Ask your team. This is your home – remain engaged and maintain a good relationship with your design and construction team. The key word here is team. Conclude your project on a positive note and recognize a job well done. Hold an open house where each member of the team (including the subcontractors and his/her family) can come to see the finished home if they would like. A simple open house buys priceless goodwill.