Best PracticesMay 13, 2024

6 Ways to Control Costs on Your Remodel This Summer

Renovations can be expensive, and you’ve probably heard stories from friends that the final product cost 50% or 100% more than they thought it would. But remodel costs don’t have to spiral out of control if you keep a few best practices in mind. Note that the recommendations that follow are not about the cheapest way to do a remodel, but are about controlling costs once you decide how much you want to spend.
Contractor on construction site with hat and tools

Contractor on construction site with hat and tools

1. Make a List

Even before you begin discussions with possible architects and contractors, think deeply about everything you might need to do. Is your roof close to needing replacing? Are those cracks in your driveway going to make you crazy once your house is remodeled and looks shiny and new? Make a list of everything that you might want to spend money on first.

The more you can literally close the door to a room, the more you can control your overall costs.

Either on your own or with your designer once you have chosen one, prioritize the items that you have to include and jettison the things you can live without. The key is to commit to a scope of work at the beginning stages of the project and to make the decision—not always easy—to NOT do those things on your wish list that don’t fit your budget. Lists like this can help you avoid the constant additions that can crop up during construction and that always increase costs.

2. Limit the Area of Work

When looking at what parts of your home you want to remodel, remember that touching a room in any way involves multiple layers of work. For instance, if you want to adjust a doorway between two rooms but otherwise don’t want to do any work in the adjacent room, the work will require both rooms to be protected and cleaned, both sides of the door to get new trim, baseboard, and patched and refinished flooring, and then it will all need to be painted. At the end of the day, you are doing a lot of work in both rooms for a small change. The more you can literally close the door to a room, the more you can control your overall costs.

3. Talk Budget Early, Talk Budget Often

A key to controlling costs on your remodel is to work with a team to build a detailed budget early in the design process, and not wait until after the design phase. By setting the budget early and checking in continuously as you go, every design decision is made with the budget in mind, and you can easily see the financial impact of each choice as you finalize design scope and quality.

Man's hand with pen and laptop in background

4. How Contracts Can Help or Hinder

There are two primary types of contracts for remodels.

If you know you have a hard time making or sticking to decisions, give yourself extra time to do so.

Two people comparing kitchen cabinet handle length

5. Do Your Best to Make Timely Decisions, and Stick to Them

Changing your mind is human, and we all do it. With construction, however, it can disrupt the process and create delays if final decisions aren’t made in a timely manner or if previously made decisions are changed. If you know you have a hard time making or sticking to decisions, give yourself extra time to do so and understand that changing your mind or not making a decision on-time will likely lead to additional costs and delays.

Just as with budgeting, choosing materials early helps keep costs under control because long lead times for ordering and receiving are always a possibility. Any team you are working with should give you plenty of lead time for decision-making, and should spread those decisions out so you are not doing them all in one weekend.

hands organizing interior samples on table

6. Contingencies Are There for a Reason

Every construction project has things that come up during the building phase but can’t be predicted. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to mentally set aside some additional as a contingency funds (10% of the budget is a good starting point but more may be necessary on complex projects) for those unexpected events. Clients often optimistically think that they won’t need a contingency and won’t include it in the budget. Don’t make that mistake. Contingencies are there for a reason. Things happen, and they are never free. Set aside the contingency and assume it’s going to be spent on the things you can’t control, not on the things you can say no to.

Peace of Mind and a Great Place to Live

Most people don’t come out of a remodel thinking, “I can’t believe how little I spent!” But that doesn’t mean that your renovation can’t be done on budget and that you can’t get the things you most want from it. Attention to details and discipline throughout the process, as well as working with a professional who is focused on giving you the best product within your means, will result in a home you love done for an investment you can live with.

One of our clients, Geoff J, said this when phase 1 of his project was done: “Working with this team was so smooth and within budget that I decided to move forward with phase 2.”

Click here to read more about the transformation of Geoff’s craftsman childhood home and how staying within budget let him do more sooner.


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