Updated: Jan 29
Want to know why having a budget before you meet with a contractor can save you money, time, and frustration? Read on to find out.
We all have heard the term in one form or another, whether it’s referring to your monthly expense budget, vacation budget, or budget for home projects. We all are going to have to get familiar with them. Think about it, It’s not too often your average person will just pack their bags and leave on a vacation without a number in mind of what they might be spending, right? This should be the same thought process for your home projects, especially if you are considering using a contractor or other service professionals.
Having an ideal budget in mind will help to determine if your ideas and budget are compatible with the contractors you are reviewing. This can save both parties significant time and potential frustration, so the earlier you discuss the budget the better!
Some homeowners may feel the need to keep their budget a secret for fear of the contractor inflating their prices. Yes, this could be a possibility and while the average contractor doesn’t operate this way, the hesitation is understandable. A way to avoid this potential problem is to ask for itemized estimates describing materials furnished and the cost of labor per hour. This gives you a better idea of what you are paying for and easier to see if it is overpriced compared to others. This is a reason why should be prepared as possible for meetings with potential contractors. It will lead to more accurate estimates and faster decision making
Having as many details about your upcoming project the better. This way you can provide them over a call, text, or email. Text and email are good for including pictures and dimensions if possible. Ask the contractor if it would be possible for them to have a rough budget number when they arrive for an estimate meeting. Doing so will give the contractor time to prepare a rough estimate off of the info given, but understand this could change after seeing a project site first hand.
Projects always have different variables to work around that affect a project cost like
Structures, objects, and debris to be removed
At this point, the contractor has possibly given the homeowner a rough number before the homeowner has revealed their budget. The contractor doesn’t lose much time nor does the homeowner should the project be way outside their budget. Homeowners do not need to reveal their exact budget but perhaps a range of numbers.
Simple vs Complex
Depending on the type of service homeowners are needing, rough estimates can be given over the phone and deals can be made just like that or if the budget doesn’t match the estimated cost you might go your separate ways. Either way not much time is lost for either party.
Other projects are more involved and require one or more meetings and an estimate will likely not come over the phone. Remodeling projects like kitchens, baths, and basements would probably entail an initial meeting to discuss design options, project details, and budget; followed by a design meeting showcasing the potential work to be completed. Often 3-D renderings and sketches are provided along with material information.
Simpler projects like painting, drywall patching, or pressure washing would probably only require an initial estimate meeting. At which point a price may be given but you should not be surprised if it takes a day or more to get an estimate back.
On large and more complex projects it is wise to have an emergency fund in your budget number because things are bound to happen and keeping that in mind when setting your budget can go a long way in saving you stress during the course of the project. Unexpected delays, unforeseen problems, changes in materials among other things can lead to a change in the budget. Having this cushion will ease these burdens. Otherwise, homeowners can look at it as money saved or used on something else they wanted.
In short, having an Idea of your budget, project details, wants, and needs will help save you and the contractors you choose to work with time, money, and stress. Just an idea will be good to get you started, and it may change as you discuss with your contractor. Just keep in mind we all value our time, so try to be mindful of others time as well.