DIY : Keeping Your Renovation on Budget – Brad Blair – Medium

Plan Ahead: This is the most important part of the entire process. If you think you’re going to pick-out materials and make decisions on the fly (all while staying on budget) — you’re wrong. “Winging it” is a sure-fire way to empty your bank account. You need to have everything picked out before a hammer even hits a wall. By planning ahead, you’ll accomplish two things — you will make sure the design is fluent and seamlessly goes together, and will know all the costs before a dime is even spent. That way if you need to adjust, you can do it ahead of time, eliminating the last minute stress.

Get multiple quotes: I’m sure this is self explanatory, but it’s important if you’re doing the renovations yourself. Taking a single quote by face value will surely end in you paying more than you should. When we started flipping houses we went through multiple trades before we found our “dream team”. We went through plumbers, electricians, drywallers, painters, and more. We over paid, had quality jeopardized, and had extra expenses slapped on us at the last minute — all things that make the entire process stressful. It took over a year and multiple projects to find our dream team, so don’t think you’ll find it on your first try — please get multiple quotes!

Budget line by line: Creating a line-by-line budget instead of a lump sum budget gives you an easy way to see where you can give and take within your budget. You might find a particular tile; for example, that you fall in love with (Kaitlyn does this regularly) that is way over budget. The good news is you don’t necessarily need to say no to it, you just need to find another line item where you are willing to give. That’s what it’s all about — give and take. Then once your project starts, make sure to track what you are actually writing cheques for to ensure you stick on budget along the way.

Expect overages: Even though you have a line-by-line budget, understand there will always be overages. Remember — you’re renovating an old house and old houses have imperfections. There are quarks in every house and it’s only a matter of time before you find one. When you renovate, those quarks usually ends up costing money to fix and/or renovate around. They usually aren’t major, but a few hundred bucks here and there add up to thousands real quick, so always plan for it.

Do more at once: If you’re thinking of doing multiple renovations over a couple years, consider waiting until you can do it all at once. Small jobs always cost more on their own than they do together. When there is more work to do, things are more fluid and there is less wasted time. If you are impatient and do things one thing at a time, you will pay more.

Sweat Equity: A common way for people to save money is to put in the sweat equity. On small jobs like a flooring change or bathroom renovation, I get it — but when you’re working on a major renovation, I don’t advise it. On a major project, trades people will be coming back and forth and if you are there doing some of the work, chances are you won’t meet the deadlines and your project will get behind schedule — which will end up costing you time, money, and frustration.

Compromise: You will undoubtedly have a thought in your head about how you want your renovation to look like. Chances are, your dream will be out of your budget. Understand that there will always be comprises. Decide from the beginning where you are willing to compromise and where you aren’t, and it will squash any disappointment you may have right from the start.

Get in and get out: One struggle that a lot of people have renovating is that it takes them forever — what was supposed to take 1 month takes 3, what was supposed to take 3 takes 6…And that happens due to poor planning and execution, but the hidden costs are what add up. The longer you take doing a renovation, the more times each trade needs to come back and every time they come back most likely adds an additional hour of work for them. If you’re being billed for that time, over the length of the project that will be hundreds of dollars (maybe more) that could have been saved with better planning and execution. Get in and get out!

Hire a design team: Do designers add cost? Yes, but they can also help save cost. The right designer can help you pick products that will not only make your space look great, but they will also have ways to find “creative money”. They will have experience with different budgets and scenarios, and will help find pressure points in your budget to help save. I like to think that the right designer should pay for themselves throughout the renovation, plus ensure that the final look is just what you’re looking for.

Hire a Contractor: Hiring a contractor can be a touchy subject for some people because they would rather save that money and put in the sweat equity. But think about it this way — whatever you are paying a contractor will cost you about the same amount in time. You will most likely take 2–3 times as long and do half as good of a job. If you really want to save the cash, hire the contractor, allow them to get in a get out, and pick up some extra shifts at work. That way everyone is doing what they’re good at and the bank account is none the wiser. The other thing to consider when thinking “cost” is that the proper contractor will already have a seasoned team. This means they will get better pricing on their material and the job will be done right. If you really compare apples to apples, doing the work yourself is tough to justify.

So, if you are thinking of doing a major renovation on your home in the near future, apply these tips and they will surely help you stay on budget. These are the 10 ways that we use to help us in our business, and they will help you too! Renovations aren’t free, but they don’t need to be stressful 🙂

Pro Tip: If your house is exceptionally old, consider an inspection prior to starting your renovation — this can uncover potential issues before you even start and allows you to plan and budget accordingly.


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