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Budgeting tips for home renovation projects

When it comes to home renovation, it seems like every move you make costs you money. If you don’t want to end up paying out far more than you planned, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what types of problems you might run into during renovation, and have contingency plans in place. The experts at Better Homes & Gardens (BHG) have a few ideas for homeowners who’d like to make their next project as cost-effective as possible.

Create (and stick to) a realistic budget

Once you know what you want to remodel, the first step you should take is figuring out how much money you have to spend. There’s no point in taking another step without an idea of your project’s budget. Include such things as contractor fees, materials, labor, and extra “just in case” money. “Generally speaking,” said BHG, “you should calculate your budget, then increase it by 20 percent . . . [which] will provide some peace of mind when the demolition of your kitchen wall reveals rot in your load-bearing studs.” There are any number of things that could go wrong and, unfortunately, few of them are predictable.

Know when to spend more

Don’t be so much of a penny pincher, though, that you skimp on the important aspects of the project. For instance, when you start shopping around for contractors, you should get a bid from each one. Don’t accept the cheapest bid just because it costs less. The work may also be of poorer quality or the original quote may not include everything (it may be up to you to get work permits or purchase some of the materials).

That doesn’t mean you have to choose the most expensive contractor. Use your best judgment and choose the one that seems best qualified for the type of project you’re planning on doing and who’s style matches best with your own.

Avoid changing your mind once remodeling is underway

Nothing will add unnecessary charges to your bill faster than last-minute changes or afterthoughts that require laborers to put in extra time. You could end up paying for overtime pay, or some of the completed work will have to be demolished and redone (think more than twice the money at that point).

James Harris, a general contractor out of Forest Grove, Oregon, said, “We get a lot of people who let themselves be persuaded by their architect, a subcontractor, or a family member to change something they later regret.” Don’t do it, Harris said. Stick to your guns.

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