When you ask folks considering a remodeling project what they fear most, one of the most common concerns is the project coming in “over budget”. A sound approach including the following guidelines can help to allay these fears and minimize risks.
First it’s important to understand your program. It may be helpful to distinguish between, “must haves” (required elements), “nice to haves” (upgrades or added elements), and “stretch/future” (elements that may be outside of consideration but could be transformational). With this defined, your design team can approach the project with this order of priority in mind.
Further, it may be helpful to identify aspects of the project that are critical maintenance items, elements that are required to preserve and protect the value of your home. These might include interior/exterior painting, replacement of windows, siding/trim replacement, deck replacement, roofing, etc. While remodeling often costs more than one might expect, it is helpful to understand and quantify what portion is attributable to protecting one of your most important investments.
When developing a budget for your remodeling project be sure you’re not overlooking any of the less obvious costs. Beyond design and construction, there are costs for permitting, interior design, professional cleaning, furniture moving, duct cleaning, landscape repair, extra utility fees, etc. Also, some contracts have “provided by Owner” clauses for cabinets, painting, plumbing and electrical fixtures, specialty finishes, and carpeting. There are also soft costs to consider, such as temporary storage for large projects, transaction/financing charges, and costs of disruption, particularly with home offices. Make sure you have a complete picture of the commitment and a clear understanding of what is included before signing.
Differences in expectations can be a major factor affecting budget. To avoid discrepancies, it is critical to have very specific talks with your remodeling professional about the details. Instead of relying on words like “custom,” which have become so ubiquitous that they are practically meaningless, be sure the details are clearly defined. For example, when selecting counters or cabinets, the exact finish, edges, pulls, and other details, should be carefully reviewed and noted. Additionally, “allowances” in contracts should be avoided. Not only will the exact costs be known, but by making all selections ahead of time, your remodeler should be able to provide the best pricing because there will not be delays due to unknown or last-minute selections during construction.
Opting for a fixed-price remodeling contract, as opposed to a “cost plus” one, is another way to eliminate the risk of cost overruns. “Cost plus”, “Time & Material” or “T&M” agreements are sometimes appropriate for remodeling projects over $1M or projects in which the scope of work is unclear due to unknown site conditions, but for most mid- to large-sized projects they can and should be avoided.
Perhaps most importantly, hire a remodeling expert very experienced in the type and size of project that you are considering. Then, discuss your budget goals from the very start and clearly ask what the risk of unknowns are in your specific project. For most remodels, with a bit of upfront due diligence, these should be minimal.
With a clear understanding of all the costs associated with your renovation and excellent communication with your remodeling professional, you can work to create a project that maximizes your program goals and respects your budget.
Do you have a remodeling or design question for me that you’d like to see answered in the next issue? Email me at AskBOWA@bowa.com.
Tim Burch is Vice President of BOWA, an award-winning design build firm specializing in luxury renovations ranging from master suites and kitchens to whole-house remodels. A Northern Virginia native, Tim focuses on clients in the Loudoun and Fauquier County areas providing them with his 25 years of expertise in the design build construction industry. He is a third generation builder, certified remodeler, and instructor. Prior to joining BOWA, he was the Lead Project Manager of Construction for the Emmy Award winning construction reality television show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition on ABC Television. For more information on Tim and the BOWA team, visit www.bowa.com, or call 703-734-9050. Have a question for Tim that you’d like to see covered in Middleburg Eccentric? Email him at AskBOWA@bowa.com.