Budgeting your DIY home improvements

Completing DIY projects around your home can create a sense of accomplishment while adding vaule to your property. Howerver, proceed with caution and make sure you start with a well-planned budget. Zillow and John Gerard give a few specific examples below.

Do Your Homework

If you’re planning to do most or all of the work yourself, you need to fully understand all of the steps involved in the renovation as well as all of the building code requirements. Don’t wing it. You’re much more likely to have a budget overage occur while doing a project you’ve never attempted before. You need to completely understand every step you’re going to take and every tool you’ll need to perform those steps if you want an accurate budget.

Let me give you an example. Recently, a co-worker described to me all of the details of a kitchen remodel he was planning. He had a really solid understanding of most of the project; then I asked him a simple question:

“Awesome. Good plan. But what are you going to do about the sink vent?”

His reaction was telling: “Um. What‘s a sink vent?”

It turns out that sink vent line, which is required by code, was a big wrench in his plans. He needed to rethink his whole renovation strategy as well as his budget. It’s better to do your homework and find out everything you need to do beforehand instead of finding out after you’ve opened up your walls. Start by going online and reading through articles of other people who have done similar projects. If you’re skeptical or just need more information, many local libraries have home improvement sections that are an invaluable resource.


Think below the surface when planning your home improvement projects. Photo via home on Zillow.


Have a Written Plan and Budget

The best way to stay on budget is to actually come up with a written budget based on real world prices. Don’t guess at how much anything will cost: look up prices online; call your local handyman; walk down to the hardware store.

Come up with a step-by-step list of how you will accomplish your project. For each step in that process, write down what tools and supplies you’ll need. Not sure how to perform one of the steps? Watch it on YouTube. Too often, homeowners will come up with some arbitrary number for their renovation budget and have no idea if that number is even feasible.

Once you know the cost of the all the supplies and tools, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on how to lower or eliminate extra costs. Don’t forget to account for the little things! Material waste, support materials, and unglamorous items such as wood glue and caulk can add up and ruin even the best budget.

Another important aspect of having a written budget is keep track of all your expenses. If you use a spreadsheet on your computer or tally it all up by hand, make sure you write down every expense for your home improvement project. This will keep you honest, and help your stay on track.


Measure twice cut once. Make sure to budget for every project before starting. Photo via home on Zillow.


Stop Creeping

The most common cause of a wrecked renovation budget is due to something called “scope creep.” Scope creep is when you end up doing much more work than you initially planned. Scope creep can be intentional, like when you actively decide to expand the amount of work required for a project. For example, if you decide to install newflooring in the whole house instead of just the one room you are remodeling, that’s scope creep.

More often than not, however, scope creep isn’t something you expect. It just happens. If you are remodeling abathroom and you find out mid-renovation that you need new pipes, that’s scope creep too. Unfortunately, scope creep isn’t always avoidable, but that doesn’t mean it has to destroy your budget.


Expect the unexpected with your budget and you’ll have a greater shot at success. Photo via home on Zillow.


The best way to avoid scope creep from sinking your remodel is to plan for the unexpected. Your budget should include an extra 10 to 15 percent for just-in-case scenarios. That extra money won’t cover all budget overages, but it will be a big help when something unexpected comes up.

If you end up not using those funds, you have the option of upgrading your project’s finishing details with something like higher-end faucets, or you can go to a nice restaurant to celebrate completing the project.

Source: http://www.zillow.com/digs/guides/before-you-sell/1273/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=emm-0416_digstipstobudget-seebudgetbutton

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Diane Lathrop

Diane Lathrop

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