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How to Stay On Budget and On Time When Renovating Your Home

June 30 2008

Frustrating home renovations can be avoided by careful planning on the part of the homeowner. Here are some simple tips for keeping your renovation on budget and on time:

notebook with pencil

What’s your reason for renovating?

Begin your renovation with a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve. Do you want to add living and recreation space to your home or are you merely trying to improve its resale value? Having a clear vision will help you plot your budget and timeline.


Figure out how much you can afford. Once you’ve come up with a sum that you’re willing to spend, determine what materials, fixtures and appliances you want to use for the renovation. Itemize every expense on your budget, no matter how small.

Hint: even the best-planned renovation projects tend to cost more than you anticipated. Be ready to go 10% over budget to cover unexpected expenses.

Do it Yourself or hire a professional?

Are you a handyman? Perhaps you can do your own home improvements. There’s no shortage of stores that cater to the do-it-yourself crowd, many of which offer classes on home renovation projects. If you’re not a handy person, you can still save money by doing simple jobs such as painting yourself.

Ask potential residential contractors for credentials, references and photographs of previous jobs they have done. Be wary of general contractors who demand full payment up front in cash or pressure you to expand your renovations. Always ask the contractor if your home remodeling project will require any special permits from city hall.


Ask the contractor to produce a timeline – in writing – for how long they think the project will take. Get specific time commitments for each stage of your project.


Check in with your contractor on a daily basis to see if things are working according to plan. Be prepared to go a little bit over schedule (just as you should prepare to go a little over-budget).

Don’t go changing

Once you have settled on a budget, contractor, timeline and creative vision of what you want to get done, try not to deviate too drastically from the plan. Major last-minute changes have a way of adding time and cost to your project.

Camp out vs. move out

You can save on hotel and food bills by staying in your residence during the renovation. If your kitchen is being remodeled, move the fridge, stove and microwave into another room and set up a temporary kitchen. For obvious reasons, it’s best to do home renovations in summer.

A home remodeling project is never easy, but following these simple steps can reduce your stress-load and keep your budget and schedule on track. Make sure to consider features that will be desirable should you decide to sell your home. Your Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate sales associate can help you determine what projects will help increase the value of your home.