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Budgeting for your home renovation

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Date Posted
12 April 2016
With home renovation projects, watching the TV shows and leafing through magazines is really the easy part. The tough part comes when its time to figure out how much money is in the reno budget, and how much can be done for that budget. The truth is, regardless of the size of the reno, budgets usually go over. But with a good plan and a detailed budget, even cost over-runs can be managed and controlled. It's the unorganized and disorderly approach that should be avoided.

It's a good idea to estimate, and even itemize some of the costs

It's not that difficult to get a"ballpark" estimate of the project cost in total. There's plenty of information and estimating tools out there, whether it's remodeling the bathroom, upgrading the kitchen, finishing the basement. Clearly, the numbers will be all over the place, depending on the quality of the project and whether a contractor will be involved. Of course, the DIY approach will save money - but its important to consider the quality results in the short-term and long-term.

Also, determine how much is actually in the renovation budget

Budgeting can sometimes be a "horse-and cart" affair. In other words, does the budget dictate the project, or does the project dictate the budget? More importantly, is there money? For those who are using savings, and paying cash, the answer is more straightforward. For those who need to borrow, there are other questions. Here, there are a number of options:  a simple bank loan; a home-equity loan; even an extended line-of-credit. Of course, there's the interest to consider. Whatever the loan type, it's a good opportunity to examine the pros and cons, and to learn which option allows for the best benefits and the best renovation outcomes. Just by example, if a home reno includes an insulation component, this is something that will benefit the project with energy savings on gas and electricity. This isn't usually the case when doing a washroom upgrade with fancy fixtures. The point is to get the most out of a prescribed budget when allocating priorities.

Getting exact contractor quotes is critical to building a budget

While being precise with reno specifications is desirable, it's also good to consider alternatives and recommendations that come from the experts. Importantly, there should be an emphasis on comparing "apples and apples" when asking for quotes. This is actually quite easy to do, by giving each bidder the same scope of work and product list. However, the final choice of contractor has to be more than just the budget - nothing can replace project reliability, trust, and workmanship.

Considering cost overruns and/or trimming the project budget

Contractor or not, a home renovation budget should incorporate at least 15% additional for the unexpected. This may also be the time to trim the budget and/or sacrifice project components to better balance costs. Indeed, a good contractor could be an asset here - suggesting cost-cutting measures that will keep the budget intact. Reputable contractors know exactly how to save money without making major sacrifices that will dilute the dream of home renovating.

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