Thinking About Reworking or Adding On? How to Contain Your Costs Before It’s Too Late

design help
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We’ve all heard the remodeling horror stories that end with an unfinished project or an empty bank account. It’s understandable that because of this, you may have some anxiety about digging into a remodeling project on your home. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow the advice below and you are sure to have a stress-free and in-budget project that is finished on time.

Get Clear About What You Want

Before you get on an airplane and take off, we’re sure you decide where you are going first, right? Getting clear about what you want from your remodel is the first step to a successful project. Start by jotting down the things you love and the things you hate about your current space. Think about the things you would like to be able to do but can’t. Writing down this wish list and understanding clearly where you want to go with your project is the first step toward a successful journey. If you don’t, you might end up in India when you really wanted to go to England. Not that India is a bad place, but if you planned to visit the Tower of London you’re going have a tough time seeing it from there.  

Planning, Planning, Planning

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Before the first hammer swings, it’s important to be sure you know exactly what is going to happen within your project. To avoid lags and surprises during the construction phase of your remodel you’ll need a plan that covers every little detail. Making these decisions on the spot with a carpenter standing in your home with a hammer in his hand is a recipe for a stressful project.

After you’ve created the list we mentioned earlier, it’s time for some space planning to determine which floor plan layout will serve your family the best. Do you need to move walls, are they load bearing, are there utilities in them?

Once you’ve nailed down the floor plan, it’s time to think about the details and finishes. Here’s where many projects get off the rails. Construction is started before these important decisions and costs are clearly defined, and the change orders start flowing. Living through a remodel is disruptive enough without also dealing with a runaway budget.

“While You’re Here”

Speaking of budget. One of the most common phrases we hear during a remodel is, “While you’re here could you….”. This seemingly simple question is at the heart of most budget overruns. While it’s impossible for you to identify all of these, jot down as many as you can think of during the planning stage and consider having your contractor create an options list. This is a list of things you may consider doing if they fit into your budget, and having a cost identified for them will help you in this decision -making process.

Stick to the Plan

Over the years we’ve joked with our clients that we won’t blow their budget, but we certainly cannot stop them from doing so. Now that the planning is complete and you’re ready for the construction phase, it’s time to stick to your plan. You invested the time and energy in developing a plan that gets you what you want within a cost you’re comfortable with, it’s time to trust that process and watch it come to life. Having the help of an organized and professional contractor can help a lot.

A Good Contract

When finalizing an agreement for what is to be done and how much it will cost do not let a single boot into your home without a signed contract. For a good contractor, this will be automatic. If anyone tells you “Oh we work on a high level of trust and do all of our work on a handshake.” Run the other way. A good contract is like a good insurance policy, you hope you don’t have to use it, but having one brings some good peace of mind. Make sure the contract spells out what is included in enough detail that you can understand it. That way, you and your contractor will be on the same page and can work together toward the same goal. Unfortunately, many homeowners who tell their remodeling horror stories have forgotten this very important detail.

The agreement should also spell out how changes are going to be documented and handled. Changes are not always a bad thing and sometimes include things that enhance the original design. Just be sure there is a clear process that keeps you informed of the cost implications, so you don’t have any surprises on your final invoice.

Hiring the Perfect Team

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As the saying goes, this process is simple, but not easy. Once you and your family have brainstormed a bit, it’s time to call the A-Team. No, Mr. T is probably not the best choice to design your project, but hiring the right Design-Build contractor with professional designers and craftsmen on staff, will ensure your project will be a success. A professional Design-Build firm will listen to your needs, develop a detailed plan, help you design the perfect space for your needs, and provide the craftsman to make it all come to life. With a one-stop-shop, everyone from the designer to the carpenter will be on the same page providing control over the design, the budget, and the schedule.


A successful project that stays on budget, on time and looks and functions beautifully is possible with the right process and planning. Stick to your plan and be picky about the contractor you hire.


Our goal with these pieces is to help you get the information you need to make educated choices for your home and family. If you’ve found this helpful, share it with others. If you have questions or would like to request other topics to be covered, please use the comment section below and we’ll make sure you get you the answers you need.

Ready to start your project? We’d love to talk with you!