Home remodeling projects can be exciting and fun. They can also be a financial strain to manage your remodel budget. It is easy to lose control of spending if you don’t set a budget and stick with it. We have discovered that creating a solid remodeling project budget can be the hardest part of the process.

Triple Heart Design has completed enough commercial and residential projects to know that working without a detailed budget is a huge problem. Budgets keep jobs in check. They provide a framework from which an interior designer’s ideas can spring forth. Perhaps most important of all is that budgets are part of a solid foundational design plan and will help from turning remodeling projects into financial disasters.

Believe us when we say that we want to give you the design of your dreams. But we also want to make sure you can afford it. To that end, we have put together a five-step process for creating a workable budget. Note – this is one aspect of a foundational design plan, we wrote a book outlining the full process of planning and organizing called the Remodel Design Planner.

Step 1: Get a Rough Estimate

Kitchen remodel project budgetStart by working up a rough estimate for creating the perfect project. How do you do that? You create a funcitonal design plan starting with an existing floor plan (or as-built). This gives the details and information you and your contractor need to begin budget planning. From there you will build your concept plans, outlining all the details you desire in your new kitchen. You will ask the contractor to quote with average material costs. You will then begin to research materials online.You can even check out some online cost calculators and let them run the numbers for you, but be aware that these numbers are generalized and you need to work with a contractor to get the true costs.

Note that this initial estimate is just that. It is not set in stone, it is the starting point from which you will build your plan. The purpose of the initial estimate is to provide a foundation of perspective as you move on to subsequent steps. Material choices drive the estimate and until you have a final plan with all decisions made, it will be tough to get an exact estimate. Understanding all the aspects of a remodel project and their costs is why hiring a design professional is powerful. The money spent up front will save you money in the long run.

Step 2: Determine How Much You Can Afford

Next, determine how much you can afford to spend by looking at your current initial estimate, your monthly expenses, any cash reserves you intend to put toward the project, and how much financing is likely to cost in the event you take out a loan. Whatever you spend needs to come out of your disposable income.

Step 3: Determine Your Priorities

If you are like most people, what you can truly afford might be less than your initial estimate. Comparing the two sets you up for the third step: determining your priorities. Now that you know what you want and how much you can afford, you can figure out how important each element of your perfect design really is.

Step 4: Consult with Your Interior Designer

Once you have completed step three, you are ready to bring in an interior designer. You are going to present your vision, the amount you can realistically afford, and your top priorities. Your designer will take all that information and come up with some ideas for you to consider. The two of you can work together to tweak the design and develop more solid budget numbers.

Step 5: Build in a Buffer

The final step is to build a buffer into your budget. Why? Because cost overruns are inevitable. Initial estimates on any remodeling project are actually baseline estimates, and cannot take into consideration any unknowns that may present themselves during demo. Final numbers are almost always higher.

How much of a buffer should you build in? That depends on the scope of your project. Your interior designer can help you figure that out and an average of 20% is standard.

With a budget in place, you, your designer and contractor can work together to make your project just what you want it to be.