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  • Writer's pictureTraza Design

4 Tips for Staying on Budget - Home Design

Updated: May 12, 2022

"What is your budget?" A designer will more than likely ask this question when they are engaged by a homeowner regarding their next project. Knowing the answer to this question is one of the most important things you as the client can provide. Now, the answer to this question goes beyond just having done your homework beforehand and determined what it takes to complete a project of similar proportions. Other things to consider before you start should be the following:

1. Ask your designer what their track record is for delivering projects on budget?

2. Simply ask, "do you believe this project can be done within this number? why?"

3. Include the budget in the fee agreement.

4. Does the project have a contingency? If so, is it part of the budget?

Why these items? Well, without addressing all of these points you run the risk of the project going over budget. Receiving the design you want may be disappointing when your builder informs you that the design you've worked so hard for will be significantly over your budget. No ones wants to experience this situation.

1. First, obtain the designer's track record for delivering projects on budget. Also, don't just take their word for it. If possible, ask for client references or client testimonials. Interview the designer and ask how they maintain projects on budget. Look out for designers that can also provide you with a design estimate. Some design professionals can partner up with cost estimators or contractors that add a price tag to your design at multiple stages of the project. Having a cost estimate before seeking out a builder can allow the client to move more confidently as they already have an idea of what the project can cost.

2. Just ask if they believe that the project can actually be done within your budget. "A kitchen of this size with builder's grade quality can typically go for $25,000 in your area." Your budget is $15,000. From here you can now make a more informed decision regarding your needs, wants and wishes. Typically, you will be working alongside your designer throughout the conceptual phase and beyond. When doing so, listen to their advice specially on choices you might be making that may be going over the budget. Instruct the designer on items that are important to you such as, "please focus on function rather than aesthetics when addressing this part of the project." The design fee is separate from the construction cost. For this reason, you should understand the impact that your choices can have of the overall project cost.

3. Make sure that the budget is included in the fee agreement. Having it written down can help keep everyone accountable. Communication should be kept open and honest. Ask yourself and inform your designer if the budget is either rigid or flexible. Provide a list of your needs, wants, and wishes. With a rigid budget, items on your wish list will become eliminated once the design seems to be going over budget. A flexible budget will instruct the design professional that they may reach the limits of the budget in order to include items beyond your needs list.

4. Lastly, does your project have a contingency? if so, what is it? Typically a 10-15% contingency is prudent in case of any surprises mainly discovered during demolition. Also, is it part of the budget? When the contingency is part of the budget, you are informing the designer that they will be handling it. This strategy takes full advantage of the designer's expertise. If it is not part of the budget, you as the client have more control. Either way, you should inform the designer of your decision and potentially work with them to determine the size of the contingency.

One last note. You may be finding yourself asking the question, "if they are the professional, why don't they know what their design will cost?" Something you must understand is that no matter what type of designer you contract, they are typically not the individuals physically building the space and managing the costs that go along with it. The construction industry is an uncertain one that is often time dependent on the region you live in. For this reason, labor and material costs often fluctuate and can dramatically impact the cost of construction.

The benefit to a designer is that they can help provide you with a one of a kind design. A one-off design can be customized to find you better design solutions that can fit within your budget. As a homeowner it can be frustrating to not have a defined number early on. The name of the game becomes how well you can manage your risk overall A competent designer at your side is one of the biggest risk mitigation solutions you can have when beginning your next project.


How can we help?

Are you struggling with your own design? We can help! We would love to collaborate with you on your next project. Our involvement in a project is most valuable at the earliest stages of a project. This is because most big decisions often with the biggest consequences are made. We want to provide you with professional advice when it matters most. After all, We don't want you to have any surprises when signing on the dotted line and a design that fits your budget and schedule.

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