Budgeting for the unexpected
There are plenty of costly renovation circumstances that can’t be planned for, especially in older homes—a water pipe broken as a result of the work, plumbing and electrical problems or pest damage could be discovered when a wall is opened.
You might even find that elements, like electricity, must be brought up to code or that you have asbestos that has to be removed before work can continue. If you’re renovating an older home, budget 30% over projected costs.
How you can save on a home renovation
One of the best ways to ensure that your renovation project stays on schedule and on budget is to make sure you’re organized from the start. We recommend a tool like Homezada, which allows you to get cost estimates and create a budget for your renovation, bookmark ideas, and even makes it super easy track important documents (like contracts, permits, receipts, and owners manuals), your reno budget, and actual costs of projects for tax planning purposes.
Do your research: itemize your budget
Even if you have a contractor working on the project, know what each item costs and the cost of labor per hour to ensure that their billing squares with your estimated budget.
For each item (yes, even things like paint brushes and drop cloths), track:
- Your budget—How much you have to spend.
- The estimated cost—This should come with your research. Based on the specific items/elements/materials/projects you’ve chosen and your contractor’s rates, how much you project it will cost.
- The actual cost—Once each individual project is done, log how much it actually cost.
Read reviews and talk to customers
Before you start requesting bids for your projects, vet contractors thoroughly. Reading customer reviews and actually talk to clients about their experiences. Did the contractor stay on schedule? On budget? What about the quality of their work? Did they correct mistakes free of charge? Any hidden fees? The same goes with architects and designers.
Get bids from multiple contractors
“Try to get multiple qualified contractors to give you a bid for your project,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of Homezada. “There can be a wide range in total costs that different contractors will provide in their bids. But make sure you check out their previous customer reference, their insurance, and a current contractor’s license.” Thoroughly vetting contractors can help you ensure that projects will stay on schedule and within budget.
Changing your mind will set you back
Keep in mind that any changes you make once a project has begun will likely incur you a fee, whether that’s return fees for materials you didn’t use or the labor cost of your contractor backtracking on completed work, so if you’re on a tight budget, make sure you stick to the agreed upon plan. Once you make your Pinterest board, avoid any more perusing that could distract your original plan.
Try an off-season renovation
For most contractors and builders, colder months are the off-season and some will offer discounts to try to drum up business when work is slow. Ask prospective contractors whether they offer discounts at different times of year.
Read more: Is Winter Actually the Best Time for a Home Renovation?