The most important part of a remodel project is the budget. Budgeting your money, your time and effort before you start is an investment that results in a finished project in which you can take pride.
What’s the best way to start the budget?
Know what you want to achieve. For example, assume you want to build a bathroom that you can access from both the guest room and a hallway that has a sink, shower, toilet and linen closet. Make sure you include all those issues.
Check building codes so you are in compliance from the start. Locate where utilities are and what you will have to add. For example, can you add plumbing lines and access electrical service relatively easily? Will you be removing walls and/or building new ones? Does the floor need to be reinforced? What is required?
Be realistic about what portions of the project are worth your time and effort. If you are not experienced, finishing drywall prior to painting should probably be something you should consider having done by a professional. On the other hand, painting is a task you can most likely take on yourself.
Making these types of decisions will impact your budget. Be realistic and always get more than one bid. Contact several contractors. Check their references. Look at their work and talk to former clients. Understand how long the project will take and how much time you have available. Ask questions.
Make sure financing and funds are available before work starts. Write out a rough bill of material and spend a day window shopping – on the internet, at various big box stores, and at local specialty supply stores.
Decide what you are willing to “splurge” on and which items you are willing to shop around for. Making a decision based solely on price is usually a bad idea. If you’ve seen a look you like in a magazine, you may be able to find variations of an item that will give you same look at a lower price.
When you get to finishing the project, careful installation pays off. If you rush something or do not do a careful finishing job, it is possible you will not get what you are hoping for in the look and feel of the project. Don’t be afraid to go into a specialty shop. Some shops welcome homeowners and are willing to answer questions. They may cost a little more than buying supplies at a big box store, but you will often benefit from working with a counter person who may have suggestions on how to make the job easier.
Factor in some time for those days when nothing seems to be going right when stores are out of stock or you’re just plain tired of the project and need a day off. Clean up as you go. While a contractor may clean the job site, you’ll be charged for it. Understand what the contractor is charging for, what you need permits for and how to get rid of the trash you’ll be accumulating through this project.
When doing demolition, donate what you can. Spend a little extra time removing cabinets and large items. Check with a local charitable home improvement center like Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. Often, you can get someone to pick these items up, give you a receipt for a donation and save you the time and effort of disposing of these items.
If you’re having a day when you’re all thumbs and nothing is going right, take the afternoon off. Keep your partner or spouse involved. Seek their help for suggestions and errand running or purchasing.
Add in a contingency factor to the budget. That way, if there is a cost overrun, a portion of it should be covered. If you don’t have to dip into the contingency portion of the budget, then consider yourself lucky.
All in all, if you are realistic, do what you can on the project and review what you’re spending as you go along, you can close a home remodel project fairly close to budget.