How to Avoid Going Over Budget for Your Home Remodel

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Whether it’s a backyard pool or a set of new windows you’re saving up for, planning a remodel is exciting. But that anticipation can fade pretty quickly when you start adding up expenses. Home remodeling costs can rack up fast, especially if you haven’t adequately budgeted your project beforehand. Below we outline some of the most common hidden costs—and how you can prevent them from sinking your hopes.


Ballpark Costs Before You Get an Estimate

Your contractor’s estimate will allow you to more precisely pinpoint the total expense of your remodel. But just so you don’t get caught off guard, it’s a good idea to approximate the costs on your own first.

Typically, you can expect to spend at least $200 for each square foot of the renovation, although that number may be higher if you’re planning major structural changes or want to add or move plumbing fixtures.

Choose a Trustworthy Contractor

Hiring a reputable contractor is one way to save, at least when you take the long view. A bad one can leave you holding the bag for a major repair, not to mention putting your family’s safety in jeopardy.

In general, you shouldn’t use cost as the deciding factor when you choose between contractors. Contractors who offer cutthroat estimates are usually going to make up for it somehow, either with lax quality or poor materials. Instead, judge each contractor by their experience, recommendations and references—or contact our representatives, if you need more help making a decision.


Keep the Communication Coming

Don’t put your project on autopilot after the contract is signed. Poor communication is the number one cause of unexpected costs, so make sure you’re checking in regularly with your contractor and discussing the progress and what happens next.

Check if your contractor’s okay with texting so you can stay in touch throughout the workday. After you talk to the contractor, jot down whatever was discussed and any questions you have. That way, you can make sure all issues get addressed—before the final paint job goes on.

Don’t Change Your Mind Mid-Project

One day you want to knock out the wall and put in a master bath. The next day, you’re totally sold on a privacy divider wall. Remodeling your home is a major decision, and it’s understandable to feel jittery about committing. That said, you won’t be doing your budget any favors—or making your contractor very happy—if you change your mind constantly from one day to the next.

Your contractor should help you plan your remodel in detail before work begins, but be sure to run over your priorities and goals for your project. If it’s a large remodel, chances are good that you’ll make revisions to this plan at some point. But try to hammer out the major details before the contractor starts ordering materials. Otherwise, your he or she will write up a change order, charging you for new materials (on top of the old ones), as well as billing you for new labor costs and consultation time required to make the change.

Plan to Bring Your Home Up-to-Code

Building codes change pretty frequently, so if your home is over ten years old, there’s a good chance your interiors have fallen out of code.

In many places, contractors are required to bring working systems up-to-date, so don’t be surprised if he or she tells you that there are electrical outlets that need to be upgraded or wiring that’s out of whack. Depending on the scope of the updates, this can definitely inflate your project budget.

Of course, online coupons always help, too, so check out these home deals from RetailMeNot to make you feel better about the money you’re spending. Happy thrifty remodeling!

Have you remodeled your home on a budget? Tell us all about it in the comments below. 

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