Any homeowner that decides to do a few upgrades, a room remodel, or even all-out renovations likely starts the process with a budget in mind. It could be based on your personal savings or the amount you can get in a home equity loan, but either way, chances are that the amount of money you’re working with is finite. And if you’re like many first-time remodelers, you probably haven’t the slightest idea going into the process what your intended upgrades are going to cost you. If you’re not careful, the price tag could quickly skyrocket out of control. So if you want to make every effort to stick to your planned budget, there are a few guidelines you should strive to follow.
The first thing to do is get plenty of bids from contractors. This is important for a couple of reasons, starting with the fact that you can average out your bids to settle on a reasonable price for your remodeling project. You’ll probably get some high bids and some low bids, but for the most part they should come in around the same amount, giving you a fair notion of what you’ll have to pay. The second reason to get several bids is to meet a variety of contractors. This will help you to find a vendor that seems trustworthy, reliable, and willing to offer you options that allow for flexibility with your budget, so that if you should come up against problems you can find a way to finish your project without exceeding your spending limit.
Of course, you can’t rely on your contractor to do everything for you. Ultimately it’s your job as a consumer to make sure you don’t overspend, whereas your contractor’s job is to do the work and get paid. The point is that you need to be proactive. This starts by making sure that you have a signed contract before work commences, and it should include not only the price of the job (including estimates for materials and labor), but also the work to be done, the expected time frame for completion, and perhaps even set dates for milestone payments (NEVER pay the entire amount up front!). You also need to make sure your contractor is licensed and bonded. If he or any of his crew is injured on the job you don’t want to be held liable.
Even with a contract in hand, though, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration. For starters, it is extremely rare for a remodel to go smoothly and exactly as planned, which means you’re bound to hit a few snags along the way (especially with older homes). When the contractor starts tearing the place apart he could find problems like leaks, mold, rot, pests, code violations, safety hazards, and god-knows what else lurking under the surface. In some cases he will be bound by law to fix these – and yes, you will have to pay for it. It is therefore wise to reserve at least 20% of your budget just in case. If everything looks good, you can either save this additional money or put it towards nicer materials.
And don’t forget that you can save some dough with a DIY attitude. While it’s certainly nice to have a contractor and crew at your disposal, and a complete redesign byRenewalDesignBuild.com is preferable to slogging your way through tutorials for interior design software, the truth is that there are plenty of tasks the average homeowner can tackle in order to stay on budget. You can, for example, help with the demo and haul away trash to save on labor and related fees. You can also find materials (flooring, tile, cabinets, fixtures, and more) on your own – when you make your contractor do this you’re paying for his time or he’ll charge a percentage of every purchase as a “finder’s fee” (or both). And you may even feel comfortable taking on some install portions of the project. Every little bit helps you to get the functional, beautiful home you want at a price you can afford.