Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Plan & Budget for a Remodel

This is one of those posts that you have to actually read.  No pictures.  Boring, I know.

For a budget to be successful, you must plan ahead, research and be realistic.  Seriously people.  You can't just make up a number and then think you can actually stick to it.  It might be absolutely impossible to do everything at that price.  Planning and researching will help find a realistic cost.


Here are a few questions I asked myself when starting this process.



  1. What do I need done?
  2. What do I want done?
  3. How much money can I afford to spend?
  4. How much money do I want to invest? 
  5. How much money is realistic for what needs to be done?
  6. How much money is too much?  Am I going to overbuild for my home and neighborhood?
  7. What do I need to do to maximize sweat equity and/or the value of my home?



The following are steps I took to come up with a budget and to answer the above questions.


  • Make a list.  What is the goal for the space?  How do you use the space?  What needs to be added or removed? What will be DIYed?  What will be hired out?  What kind of textiles do you want to use?  What prep work has to be done (waterproofing shower, repairing and leveling subfloor, moving plumbing, etc).  I have found two great resources to help with this.  Better Homes and Gardens has a resource guide and a pricing guide.  Both are filled with great info and questions to ask yourself.  Best part, they are free to download. 




  • Actual costs.  You need to be aware of actual costs to set a realistic budget.  Budgeting $10 for a sink is not realistic.  Research costs of products you need.  Try to find them cheaper on Ebay or an outlet store.  Call a local dealer.  Many times they can order it and you don't have to pay shipping if you pick it up from the store (can be a huge savings).  If you have to contract out any work (for us it will be the glass shower door and the marble countertop) call and ask about a free estimate.  Many times they will come to your house to take measurements and discuss options (sometimes they have better ideas) and will give you a free quote.  
This is a small section of my Numbers (Excel) page for the bathroom budget.  I put the price (including tax and shipping) and the link.  The goal is to have as close to exact cost as possible BEFORE the project starts.  



  • Hidden costs.  Do not forget tax and shipping.  If you have budgeted $500 for a shower faucet, buying a $500 faucet is actually over budget.  With an 8.25% tax, a $500 faucet costs about $541.  You think that's only $41 over, but those extra dollars can add up fast.  Especially, on expensive items like vanities, tile and glass shower doors.  Shipping can be a budget buster as well.  Quality tile is easy to find for a reasonable price online but shipping costs are usually high.  Tile is heavy which means it is expensive to ship.  I always put the items in my online shopping cart and enter my zip code to see shipping costs.  Pretty much, I get all the way to the enter your credit card info page so I can see the exact cost.  Try to find a local dealer to eliminate the shipping cost.  If there is not a local dealer for the exact brand, find a dealer with a similar product.  Bring your online price.  Sometimes they will match or give some discount.

  • Talk to a realtor.  I feel this is an important part of the planning process and no one seems to talk about it or do it.  Do not overbuild and overspend for your home and neighborhood.  Just because you can or want to spend $20,000 on a bathroom doesn't mean you should.  Call a realtor to get a present day value of your home (Don't assume this number on your own.  Get a realtor).  Ask what homes similar in size, that are already updated are selling for.  Ask what your homes present day value is.  My realtor has been in our house since we did the kitchen and has seen pictures of the dock and other projects.  She gave me an estimate of what our house could sell for based on the current market.  I now know what kind of profit we can make if I want or have to sell.  This value obviously changes with the market but it is smart to have a ballpark number from a professional.  Do not get upside down with your investment.  Even if you don't plan on selling right now or ever, getting upside is NEVER good.

  • In several places, I read a good rule of thumb is a master bath should cost 5-10% of the homes value.   If you know the current value and/or the potential value of your home, this is an easy step.

I have done all the steps above.  Knowing the value of my home, knowing what we can afford, knowing the costs of materials, knowing how I want the room to look and what will fit with the rest of the house, I have set my budget for $6,500.  GASP!  I had to call my friend the other day for her to talk me off the ledge because I didn't think it would cost that much.  Which is why I plan and research!  I was thinking we could do everything for $4000 based on some other budgets and makeovers I had seen (I'll tell you about that tomorrow), so I was a little disappointed that it is going to cost more.


In the grand scheme, $6,500 is not overbuilding for our neighborhood and the end result is going to be amazing...I hope.  I feel confident that I can get a few things cheaper (Still waiting to hear from some local people) and can actually do the update cheaper ($5,750 - $6,000).  Having said that, I am preparing to spend $6,500.

I read the other day that the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) says the national average for a master bathroom remodel is about $16,000.  We are definitely below that average and we are below the 5-10% of the home's value rule.  Those things make me feel better.  I know once its done, I won't regret spending the money and it will add value to our home.

Tomorrow, I am going to share some details of the budget and how it is going to cost $6,500.


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