How Do I Know How Much to Budget for My Renovation?

No doubt you’ve been thinking about a home renovation for some time. Swoon-worthy built-ins, gleaming countertops, custom cabinetry and a steam shower you could spend all day in….the stuff of dreams (at least mine). You faithfully watch the HGTV shows or clip and pin to your heart’s content. You’re ready to take the leap, but you don’t know if the budget number in your head matches the reality of a renovation in your market. Your budget is the number one factor that will determine how well your fantasy and reality match up. So how do you make sure that budget is grounded in reality and not tv? RSI can help you with that in our 2 Hour Consultation (just saying), but here are some tips we think will give you a pretty good starting point.


Define the Scope of the Project

Take a moment to go through the list of changes and additions you’d like to see. Which items are your non-negotiables – those items and must haves that are the entire point of the renovation? Are a Kardashian style walk in closet and a master bath that has all the bells and whistles all you’ve been dreaming about? You should be able to break your list into “nice-to-haves” and “must-haves” based on both personal preference and functionality. When are you expecting to begin and complete the project? These combined elements are what we call the Scope of the project.


Take Some Time to Research Your Market

Start building your budget by completing a bit of homework to make sure that the initial budget you had in mind is realistic. Unless you’ve completed a renovation recently, it’s unlikely that you will have the answers to the following on hand:


    • What are the costs of construction in your market area? This includes items like cabinetry, appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting, flooring, and window treatments.

    • What do trades such as plumbing and finishing carpentry cost? (fun fact: you don’t save as much as you think completing a smaller space vs a larger one due to the minimum charge for trade call-outs and materials)
    • If you’re adding on to your home, what will framing, roofing, windows and exterior construction cost?


    Refine Your Budget

    Now that you have the numbers on hand, do they match up with the initial budget you created? If you’ve over budgeted – you’re one smart cookie! If there is a shortfall though, take heart… you have options.

    If you are comfortable, you can raise your budget to a level that will allow you to complete the project as planned.

    If the budget required is more than you can comfortably commit to, consider breaking the project into reasonable phases. We recommend you focus your energy and investment on only as much as you can finish to completion in this case. One or two beautiful rooms that make you love your home again are so much better than multiple half-finished rooms that leave you feeling unsettled and deflated.


    Spend Wisely

    Have you heard the saying “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten”? Well, I think it may have been an interior designer or contractor that coined the phrase because it very aptly describes the process of renovating / building a home. This is where you may want to enlist some professional help to make sure your investment is just that…an investment.

    Here’s how an interior designer can help you build an accurate budget that ticks all the boxes.

    1. We’ve all seen the Splurge vs Save pages in the design magazines – these are based on an understanding of where to allocate your design investment. The average consumer is not expected to know what the internals are for their plumbing fixtures, which countertops will add more value to their home or the best tile for a steam shower. We know where we can save you a few dollars without compromising the project and where the quality really matters and will save you down the road.

    2. At RSI, we have existing relationships with tradespeople and vendors, allowing us to know who will provide high quality work and products we can stand behind at a competitive price. Receipt of timely quotes from which to build an accurate budget and make informed decisions cannot be underestimated.

    3. Interior designers are solution-based thinkers with a (large) dab of creativity. Rather that automatically nixing a design element that can make your space special because it seems too expensive, a designer can often create a work around that will allow you to maintain your budget while creating the dream home you had imagined.


    There is no doubt that there are many elements that go into the creation of an accurate renovation or building budget. Building a realistic budget might seem a little daunting, but with a bit of leg-work or help from a professional, it’s completely do-able and will allow you to proceed with confidence.

    Happy Renovating!

    Next time on the blog: How Do I Choose the Best Lighting for My Home?

    Until next time,