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Renovating by the Numbers - How to Set and Stick to a Budget

While creating a renovation budget isn’t rocket science, it does require skill, knowledge, and flexibility. Ensuring the task list is checked off (known as labour) and making sure the functional design is pretty (known as sourcing) are essential to a successful, on-budget renovation. While it is common for first-time renovators not to have a good grasp on what things cost, they usually do have a very good idea on the investment they wish to make in their home. It’s important to make sure the design plan falls in line with the desired investment!

Renovation budget step one: Labour quotes. When it comes to a renovation budget and managing a renovation, the first step is always getting quotes from the trades. This is known as the labour budget. When the design is all planned out, it is easy for the trades to work off the plan to provide an accurate quote. Labour really is non-negotiable. While some trades will provide more competitive pricing, there isn’t a lot of wriggle room in the pricing of labour.

Renovation budget step two: Sourcing quotes. The next step is the sourcing (or materials) budget. Once you have a total cost for the labour, you’ll know how much your ‘pretty things’ budget can be. This is where you’ll need to do research to make selections that fall within your budget or consult with a designer to source options. There may be areas where you wish to ‘splurge’ and other areas where you can ‘pinch.’

Renovation budget step three: Finalizing the budget. This is where 1 + 1 = 2! The labor budget plus the materials budget will give you the overall budget for the project. Labour + Product = Full cost of the renovation.

When the renovation budget is too high

If the overall budget comes in higher than what is expected, you have some choices:

  • Increase the budget to get it all done.

  • Reselect materials to come in on budget.

  • Investigate the scope of the project to see where some work can be cut from the project.

Renovation budget example

Imagine a basement remodel for clients who are hoping to develop their basement to ensure a quick sale of their home.

The original plan included fully developing the basement, including a separate mechanical room/furnace room, laundry room, bedroom, bathroom, open family room, and storage room.

Some heavy price-tag items on the list are:

  • Moving the hot water tank to be closer to the furnace.

  • Moving the plumbing drain from the centre of the space to the mechanical room.

  • Cleaning up the electrical panel and adding a subpanel.

  • Creating a stub wall for the laundry room and finishing off the exterior wall.

While there were other items on the list for the electrician and plumber, the list was extensive for both trades.

When the labour quote came in, it was way above the amount the clients had in mind and so they were forced to go back to the drawing board.

Since the home is older and making sure the new homeowners have access to the plumbing and electrical is a priority, the clients decided to create one larger laundry room/mechanical room and leave it unfinished to save costs. The cost to move the hot water tank and plumbing drain was around $2,500 and was easy to take off the list without compromising the rest of the basement and choosing to leave the room unfinished saved a huge amount of money.

These clients were able to make some other smart budget choices to come up with the final design plan for the basement. Some minor changes that make the budget work include a smaller closet in the bedroom and no built-in storage units in the bathroom.

Renovation budgets - making smart decisions

When it comes to renovations, everyone would love to have every single thing on their list! The reality is, we often have to make compromises. Don’t think of compromises as a swear word! While you may have to make some compromises, the end goal never changes. The goal is always to create a new space that you will love for many years to come.

Sheri is the owner of Get It Together, As an Interior Design Professional, Sheri helps her clients renovate with confidence. She takes spaces in homes that individuals and families don’t love and transforms them into their dreams.

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