After watching one home remodeling program after another, you’re finally ready to apply that knowledge to your own abode. You know you want quality work that won’t look like you painted on some cheap makeup to cover up the flaws, but you don’t want to break the bank by choosing features that are totally out of your price range either. That’s why the first step to any home improvement is to calculate a budget.
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Do the Math
Regardless of the size of your remodel, you have to figure out what your project will entail completely. That means taking measurements or mapping out a blueprint as well as deciding on all the design details. For example, if you’re redoing a bathroom, what type of fixtures do you want to install? Will you tile the shower or purchase a prefab model? Figure out as many items as possible, then go shopping! Either look online at prices or compare costs at different stores, jotting down the price of everything. Also, be sure to account for sales taxes.
These expeditions will help you refine your choices. Along the way, you might learn that you don’t want a brushed bronze faucet and prefer a chrome one. Better to change your mind now while window-shopping than halfway through construction.
Use all the data you collect to add up a subtotal for materials. Then tack on an estimate for labor costs, at least one-third of that subtotal. Next, allot a cushion amount for “incidentals.” These are unexpected costs that arise while the project is underway. For example, if you have to tear out walls to make room for a larger soaker tub, you may reveal hidden plumbing problems. Having a cushion makes that discovery a little less traumatic. Experts suggest you allocate anywhere from 10% to 20% of the total. Of course, the bigger the job, the bigger the cushion should be.
Now, add everything together. That’s your own base estimate. Next call in estimates from at least three contractors. Ask friends, family and neighbors for referrals. Also, check online, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry database at www.nari.org.
Give each contractor the same list of your remodeling demands, including all the fixtures, materials, and finishes. This way you can fairly compare each bid.
Before deciding which company to award your business to, review the costs and make sure it all fits into your budget. You should already know how you’re going to pay for it. Cash might be an affordable method for smaller jobs. For major remodeling, check into a home equity line of credit (HELOC), which typically qualifies for tax deductions of the interest payments. Also, double check to make sure you include the interest charged on the loan in your budget as well as determining the monthly payment.
If the available funds don’t match your remodeling dreams, reconfigure your dreams. Ask your contractor for suggestions on how to trim expenses. In order to truly enjoy the results, you can’t be stressed because you overspent.