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Budgeting: Vision Versus Reality

As a homeowner, it's common to have a vision for your project, but sometimes that vision may not align with reality when it comes to the budget. Assigning a budget to a project can be difficult, especially if you're not familiar with the cost of construction materials, labor, and other expenses that go into a remodeling project.

We had a client who had, for years, been dreaming about a second story addition to their small craftsman so that they could finally have an owner’s suite and home office space. They worked really hard to save and got a HELOC, resulting in a total of $250,000 to spend on their remodel project. They were determined to get their vision met for their budget. However, we had to break the news that they might not get everything they wanted for their budget.

We asked the client to trust us and allow our team to provide a schematic design that we believed could work for their budget. Because their property had enough rear yard space, we were able to provide a single-story addition option that gave the homeowner everything they wanted, but on the ground level of their home rather than a second story. The final project cost was $275,000. While it was still above their initial desired budget, it was lower than the expense of the proposed second story.

It's essential to work with a professional who can help you explore other design options and make informed decisions about your project. We can help you determine what is realistic and feasible within your budget, and suggest alternative solutions if necessary.

Setting Your Budget

Setting a realistic budget for construction as a homeowner can be a challenging task, but it's important to do so to ensure that the project is completed within your means. Here are some steps to help you set a realistic budget:

  1. Define your project scope.

  2. Determine your priorities (for example, if you're remodeling a kitchen, you may prioritize high-end appliances over custom cabinetry)

  3. Be realistic. Don't underestimate costs or assume that you can cut corners to save money. It's better to overestimate costs and come in under budget than to underestimate costs and run out of funds.

  4. Consider financing options. If your budget is tight, consider home equity loans or lines of credit. Just be sure to factor in interest and fees when creating your budget.

  5. Work with professionals.

  6. Communication and honesty. One of the biggest reasons why remodeling projects go over budget is because homeowners are not honest about their budget. By being upfront about the budget, a homeowner can avoid the risk of cost overruns, which can result in significant financial stress and unexpected expenses.

No "Deals" in Design and Construction

The design and construction process is complex, and requires a significant investment of time, resources, and expertise to complete. There are often no "deals" or shortcuts that can be taken without sacrificing quality or compromising the end result.

While it may be tempting to look for ways to cut costs or take shortcuts, this can often lead to poor quality work, unexpected expenses, or even safety hazards. For example, using subpar materials or cutting corners on the construction process can result in a finished product that is less durable, less functional, or less aesthetically pleasing than originally intended.

The construction industry is highly regulated, and there are often strict standards and guidelines that must be followed in order to ensure safety and quality. Attempting to take shortcuts or find "deals" can result in violations of these regulations, which can lead to costly fines or even legal consequences.


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