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Whether you’re planning on renovating a newly purchased home or updating your family home, making sure you have a realistic and detailed renovation budget is key.  Establish a well-planned budget to follow (and modify as needed) before any purchases are made or contractors are hired.


Here we outline exactly what to include in your budget and what to watch out for.

Where to start…

Begin by looking closely at how much you can afford to spend.  Will you be using your savings or financing your project?  Either way, determine what you can comfortably spend, then outline what’s needed from start to finish.

When determining how much you need for your project, you need to have a clear picture of exactly what you want your finished project to be.  Without this, accurately budgeting for and pricing materials will be impossible.  You will need to determine the size of the space you’re renovating and the present condition of that space.  Whether this is a do-it-yourself project or you’re hiring a contractor, you’ll ultimately be paying by square footage.

Now that you’ve determine what you want out of your project and the size of the space you are working with, it’s time to start your budget spreadsheet.

Your spreadsheet should include line items for each portion of your project.   You’ll also want to include the estimated cost you determined you’d be spending and the actual cost of the items.  Do not forget to account for taxes and shipping charges when pricing your project!   Keeping track of the estimated and actual costs will allow you to watch your finances carefully. You might find that you need to make adjustments to your project as you go.

Be sure to include labor charges (if hiring a contractor), costs of any necessary permits, materials and tools, fixtures for finishing touches, and cleanup costs such as a dumpster or junk removal service.  If you’re planning a major renovation and unable to stay in your home, be sure to account for temporary housing.  Note: Add at least one additional month of housing costs for unexpected delays.

Along with accounting for unexpected delays, be sure to include at least an additional 10 to 20 percent for unforeseen costs and changes that will inevitably come up.  No matter how well you believe you have planned your project, life (and projects) is full of surprises


Money saving options to keep in mind when initially planning your project:

Shop around at multiple home improvement stores and discount stores for the best prices.

Even if you plan to hire a contractor, tackle the smaller tasks yourself to save on labor charges.

Reconsider your materials by opting for vinyl over tile and composite counter tops instead of pricier granite.

Consider refurbishing cabinets instead of replacing with brand new cabinets.

If making large purchases from just one store, be sure to ask about any discounts that might be available.  Many times, they will honor a contractor’s discount if your purchase is large enough.

When getting quotes from contractors, make sure they’re coming out to inspect and measure the space so you’re receiving an accurate quote on square footage and accounting for prep work and finish work.

Though it will be tempting, don’t allow yourself to add additional unnecessary items along.  If your budget allows at the end, you can then splurge on the additional items if you still want them.