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Sticking to your budget

Construction projects require a lot of planning. Budgeting is a crucial part of this planning.

1 - Identify project goals and stick to them

At the onset of the project, you should write down the project goals. Having clear goals helps prevent scope creep which is so common. Another reason to write down your goals is it helps you know if you are successful at the end of a project. Avoid making changes during construction as changes always cost more during construction and will also slow things down which may add even more cost.

2 - Make a budget spreadsheet

Deciding a construction budget is both a top-down and bottom-up process. Set a target price for your project based on the funds you have available. Create a work breakdown structure which is a way to simplify the project down into more manageable pieces

3 - Do your research

The best cost information comes from current data on similar projects. Ask around and see what others paid for similar projects. Get quotes for material from suppliers and contractors who can perform the work. I often advise clients to get preliminary cost estimates after schematic design to see if we are on the right track or if we need to adjust.

4 - Include related costs

Related costs include building permit fees, design fees, landscaping, furniture, and appliances. Add these costs together with the construction costs to find the total project cost.

5 - Know where to splurge and where to save

I like to splurge on a few nice things and then fill in the rest with the basics. Even for high-end designs, I strive for a custom look while using low-cost, readily available, off-the-shelf items. 

6 - Have a contingency

Contingency funds should be 10-15% for new construction and 20-25% or more for remodels.

7 - Update the budget as you go

As you pay for your project, review actual costs with your spreadsheet to see if you were above or below so you can adjust accordingly. 

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