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Expert Contributor

According to a Houzz & Home survey, more than one-third of all home improvement projects run over budget, the survey reported two common factors that cause projects to exceed their budget:

  • Change orders for higher grades of products and materials accounted for 45 percent more spending. 
  • The project scope changed midstream, adding another 33 percent to the project cost.

You need to develop a realistic budget for what you need and want. Home improvements subject to building regulations to improve living in the home are requirements and must be in place. Personal wishes for more comfort or the latest smart technology may come at a higher price. Meeting with a contractor can help with these decisions.


home improvement outletPrioritize Planning

Planning starts with prioritizing between the items needing repair or replacement, and the building codes and safety measures. These can include a new roof, a larger water heater, energy efficient windows and updated internal systems. Next is the wish list — upgrades that involve room renovations and features such as countertops, cabinets, appliances, flooring, spa bathrooms, pools and barbecue grills.


Do Not Sacrifice Quality for Budget

Unless you are in the industry, you need to get the cost estimates from a professional. Ask for itemized prices for both lists. Be sure to ask for alternative options, recommended brands and materials, and best performance products. Once you know the costs, you can make better decisions. Hiring a contractor to do the entire project can save on costs with trade discounts — price differences that can help you decide where to cut costs or redirect expenses without losing quality.


DIY Home Improvement Projects

With DIY projects, you can plan the phases or projects throughout the year to fit your budget. Take the time to walk the aisles of your local home improvement stores. Check out the prices, ask questions, and attend project workshops. Although you may enjoy DIY projects, sometimes a tradesman is required to complete the project.


home improvement planningPrepare for the Unexpected

Every home improvement project has a few surprises. Padding the budget comes in handy. Add 10 percent for small projects and 25 percent for larger projects. Depending on the age and layout of the home, surprises show up behind the walls and under the floors.

  • DIY — remember the little extras like sales tax and shipping and delivery charges. It sounds small, but these expenses add up.
  • Avoid the temptation to use your "buffer" money for upgrades during the project; eating away at that extra cash means it won't be there when you need it. Finishing a project with money left over isn't a bad thing.


Schedule the Phasing

Home improvement projects take time. Be prepared to live around the renovations, or you may decide that it's better to move out until the renovations are complete. Preparation time to create the plan with full details, get the cost estimates and financing in place can take one to two months. Add another two to three months for a meeting with a contractor or interior designer to complete the final drawings. Estimated timeframes for kitchens and bathroom remodels can take three to five months. 



Establishing a budget keeps a check and balance on the costs of the home improvement. Planning ensures your vision comes to life, whether you are doing a DIY or hiring a contractor. Home improvement projects should make your home proud, while increasing the home’s value with a good return of investment (ROI).


Iris M. writes blog content for real estate; research, region and community information for the purpose of providing information to the reader, helping them with decisions when selecting a home. She writes content on a variety of subjects, pertaining to client specifics, industry related, research and informative studies, including "how to" for mass market and social media.