Budgeting is crucial to a successful renovation or remodel. Budgeting is also nefarious and difficult to nail down until certain pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. Not because information isn’t available, rather there’s so much information available and the number of variables are impossible to enummerate. However, that said, these are our top tips for tackling your budget and coming out on top.


This is going to take the most amount of time. The type of project you’re embarking upon and the number of elements it involves will make this more or less arduous, but it must be done. It isn’t just limited to online research. The best place to start is with a basic search for the average cost of X renovation in your area. This will give you a projected lump sum. That’s great, you now have a direction to head, but allocating that sum is where it gets tricky.

For materials (one of the largest variables) it’s going to take some window shopping. Not just at the big banner stores, either. They’re great, but they also have a mark-up because they’re not selling to you at wholesale. Your contractor should have connections in these areas, but if you can visit a lumber liquidator or specialty wholesale store to gauge prices and options, this is a.) fun and b.) to your benefit. While most places will have a web presence of some sort, up-to-date inventory isn’t always accurate. 

For contractors, you’ll want to rely on recommendations from personal connections (neighbors, friends, etc.) It’s best to take your “budget” in with you to interview your contractors to see how they will work within your budget. A quick phone call for an average estimate, though, can give you a slightly less broad idea of what they charge for labor, etc. Understand, though, that while you can research until you’re blue in the face, things will change until you’ve chosen your team. That’s okay. But it now becomes less daunting to approach the subject than going into it completely blind.


While you research, you also want to explore your financing avenues. You might have savings accumulated or need to seek assistance in the form of home equity or credit card offers. If you’re upgrading your kitchen, for example, bringing in energy efficient models of appliances from dishwashers to light bulbs might qualify you for a rebate or tax incentive. Research it all. However you end up acquiring your funds, there is one solid, tried and true rule to live and die by: never borrow more than you can afford to pay back. Predatory loans are too common and while the thought of a new master bathroom is tempting, even though it adds value to your property, becoming “house poor” because you borrowed too much is not worth the added stress. 

Delegating And Organizing

Once you have your team, your number, and your vision all planned out it’s time to get clerical. Bust out the hardly-ever-used version of Excel and make a spreadsheet. Itemize every element of your budget including a solid emergency fund (20% of the entire budget) and added expenses such as external storage rental, eating out while your kitchen doesn’t exist, and possible hotel stays. These seem like minor expenses that you can cover without issue, but the process of home renovation is stressful enough. Do not add this extra stress because you didn’t plan for it. 

It doesn’t just stop at itemizing the budget. Copy and Print!!! Make copies for you, your spouse, your contractor, your foreman – anyone who will need to reference it for decision making and general tracking. It’s possible you’ll spend less in some areas than you anticipated and it’s possible other areas might eat up more of the budget. Having your budgets organized and laid out in an easy access form will help you stick to it, and make concessions or modifications without throwing everything out of balance. 

It seems like a ton of work. It is. But at least you’re not erecting a whole new bathroom by yourself. Buckle down and work smartly on your budget to make this entire process work easier for you.