Make the Most of Your Home Renovation Budget

So you’re going to renovate…great!  But now what?  You have a total figure you can spend on your home renovation, but how are you going to approach the design process so that you get the end result you want and a smooth experience? Jeffrey Douglas of the Douglas Design Studio explained exactly what you need to do when you are planning and undertaking a home renovation.

Kitchens are one of the most common -- and expensive -- home renovation projects. This beautiful model is by Ornare.View in gallery
Kitchens are one of the most common — and expensive — home renovation projects. This beautiful model is by Ornare.

First, get a list of comparable properties in your community and neighborhood before you start planning your home renovation.  This gives you a basis for comparing what you want to do and examining your financial goals.  “It’s very important to look at present value vs. potential value,” Douglas says.  You don’t want to overdo the renovation, making your house the most expensive in the area because it’s much harder to earn that back at resale time.

Bathrooms are also top of the list when it comes to home renovations. So many innovations have been made in bathroom fixtures and technology that a double vanity now looks like a stylish piece of furniture.View in gallery
Bathrooms are also top of the list when it comes to a home makeover. So many innovations have been made in bathroom fixtures and technology that a double vanity now looks like a stylish piece of furniture.
Style options include leggy pieces like these, lightening up the bathroom design. Not all vanities need to go all the way to the floor.View in gallery
Style options include leggy pieces like these, lightening up the bathroom’s design. Not all vanities need to go all the way to the floor.
It's important for all your renovation team members to know what you want. This cool touchless washbasin, where the water comes from a ceiling mounted pipe is a good example of something that will require unusual plumbing specifications.View in gallery
It’s important for all your renovation team members to know what you want. This cool, touchless washbasin, where the water comes from a ceiling mounted pipe, is a good example of something that will require unusual plumbing specifications in your bathroom renovation.
Fancy fixtures with the latest innovations will also cost more, affecting your overall budget.View in gallery
Fancy fixtures with the latest bells and whistles will also cost more, affecting your overall bathroom renovation budget.
Showers don't have to incorporate four -- or any -- tile walls. This walk in shower includes a seat, storage outside the shower, and a modern drain style.View in gallery
Showers don’t have to incorporate four — or any — tile walls. This walk in shower includes a seat, storage outside the shower, and a modern drain style.
The circular drain in the middle of the shower is a thing of the past with these newer drainage options.View in gallery
The circular drain in the middle of the shower is a thing of the past with these newer drainage options.
Shower heads and controls can be purchased on a tower, changing the entire feel and look of the shower.View in gallery
Shower heads and controls can be purchased on a tower, changing the entire feel and look of the shower.
New materials -- like steel -- are being used to make traditional porcelain fixtures. Note the toiled with can have any design applied to the outside. Not your average boring toilet!View in gallery
New materials — like steel — are being used to make  fixtures that are traditionally made from porcelain. Note the toilet bowl, which can have any design applied to the outside. Not your average boring toilet!

Once you’ve decided on the overall scope of what you want to do in your home makeover, Douglas highlights these key points:

  • You are part of the process. You can’t hire people and then go away, expecting them to do everything. “You are the CEO of your own project,” he says.  You have to know what questions to ask and how to ask them.”
  • You are building a team. For a home renovation, your team should include all the players, from architect to interior designer to decorator.
  • You are in charge. Ultimately, it’s your house and your money. Trust your team because they are professionals, but don’t overtrust.
Choosing bathroom furnishings with non-traditionally placed fixtures will require special plumbing and keeping them off the floor will increase your flooring budget by requiring more tile.View in gallery
Choosing bathroom furnishings with non-traditionally placed fixtures will require special plumbing, and keeping them up off the floor will increase your flooring budget by requiring more tile.

“The bigger the project, the more people you will need,” Douglas explains. He laid out the main members of the home renovation team and what their roles should be:

Client

As the homeowner and client, you set the tone for the project. You lay out your expectations for the projects and the quality of the work.  Before hiring anyone, you should start with a wish list and develop a list of key questions you want to have answered.

Kitchen sinks are available in many stiles like this farmhouse model from Blanco.View in gallery
Kitchen sinks are available in many stiles like this farmhouse model from Blanco.

Architect

The architect is the person who “programs your space,”  Douglas says. He or she will translate your wish list into reality. According to expert Bob Villa, the cost of the architect is about 10 percent of the total project, while HomeBuilder.com cites the figure at about 15-20 percent of a home renovation project, he explains.

Many kitchen innovations can add a real wow factor to your renovation. The underlighting on this Miralis island make it appear to float.View in gallery
Many innovations can add a real wow factor to your kitchen renovation. The underlighting on this Miralis island make it appear to float.
If your taste runs to the more traditional style, there are still plenty of new things your architect can incorporate into your renovation.View in gallery
If your taste runs to the more traditional style, there are still plenty of new things your architect can incorporate into your kitchen renovation.
Walls don't have to be plain, but your architect needs to know what you want.View in gallery
Walls don’t have to be plain, but your architect needs to know what you want in your renovation.

Contractor

Once the architect has completed the drawings, the contractor is the one who reads them and translates them into the various jobs that need to be done. For this individual – and for you – time is money, so good organization and efficient decision-making in advance is beneficial.

Gemstone countertops and islands are very hot right now. They can also be expensive, so your contractor needs to know if this is a priority for your project.View in gallery
Gemstone countertops and islands are very hot for kitchen renovations right now. They can also be expensive, so your contractor needs to know if this is a priority for your project.
The fashion for wide-plank wood floors is not waning. Although you won;t be out there buying the materials yourself, it helps if you know how much things cost in general. It can help guide any cost cutting you might have to do,.View in gallery
The fashion for wide-plank wood floors is not waning. Although you won’t be out there buying the materials yourself, it helps if you know how much things cost in general. It can help guide any cost cutting you might have to do in the process of your home renovation.
So many new materials are available to you, like this one based on a carbon fiber fabric, that is encased in a rigid polymer surface.View in gallery
So many new materials are available to you, like this one based on a carbon fiber fabric, that is encased in a rigid polymer surface.Designed by Designbydt.

Interior Designer

This is the person who imagines how you will live in the space and how you will use it.  They will want the most details about your thinking with regard to the project and how you live on a daily basis. Typically, the designer accounts for 12-15% of the interior portion of the home renovation’s cost.

Smart budgeting through the process will leave you some cash for new dear pieces and furniture.View in gallery
Smart budgeting through the home renovation process will leave you some cash for new design pieces and furniture.

Obviously, the architect must come first in your budgeting process, and the interior designer should be chosen early on as well.  In many cases, Douglas points out, there is an overlap of skills among the architect, designer and decorator. Regardless, the builder will appreciate the lists you develop with the architect and designer because he or she can use them as shopping lists. The architect can also give you a price per square foot estimate for your home renovation project, “which gives you peace of mind to know where the ship is headed,” he adds.

Another major piece of advice Douglas gives:  Keep 15% of the total project in your back pocket without telling anyone, so that if your home makeover goes over budget, you can handle the extra.

Walls are definitely an expense you need to figure into the budget. If you opt for anything other than paint, your costs will rise. Keep in mind that today's wall coverings are a far cry from the wallpapers of 20 years ago. These digitally printed offerings by Rollout are a taste of what's available.View in gallery
Walls are definitely an expense you need to figure into the budget. If you opt for anything other than paint, your home renovation costs will rise. Keep in mind that today’s wall coverings are a far cry from the wallpapers of 20 years ago. These digitally printed products by Rollout are a taste of what’s available.

For the designer’s budget, go room by room. Include everything: Floors, walls, ceiling, plumbing, lighting, special fixtures, etc. “This helps guide the process, control the budget and minimize frustration,” he says.

Wall textures and lighting must be in your budget for every room.View in gallery
Wall textures and lighting for every room must be included in your home renovation budget.
Innovative new wall coverings can make a dramatic impact. Used sparingly, they can still provide extra interest without breaking the budget. These flexible sheets of squares from Many Squares are a great option to consider.View in gallery
Innovative new wall coverings can make a dramatic impact. Used sparingly, they can still provide extra interest without breaking the budget. These flexible sheets of squares from Many Squares are a great option to consider.
The squares can be purchased on a translucent backing that is quite dramatic when backlit.View in gallery
The squares can be purchased on a translucent backing that is quite dramatic when backlit.
Lighting should never be an afterthought. The right dramatic or artful lighting fixture can provide a generous about of "wow" in an otherwise basic interior design.View in gallery
Lighting should never be an afterthought. The right dramatic or artful lighting fixture can provide a generous about of “wow” in an otherwise basic interior design.

The builder’s budget is a block allowance in you r home renovation. “You do need to have some idea of how much various things cost. It’ll help guide your decisions when you have to cut costs and balance the big decisions,” he adds.

Understanding all the finishes that are available and how much they cost can help you in working with your contractor.View in gallery
Understanding all the finishes that are available and how much they cost can help you in working with your contractor.
Non-traditional finishes and materials add to you home decor's style love, but also can add to your budget.View in gallery
Non-traditional finishes and materials add to you home decor’s style love, but also can add to your home makeover budget.
You interior designer can help coordinate major home decor options, as well as smaller accents. You may also have a separate decorator in some cases.View in gallery
Your interior designer can help coordinate major home decor options, as well as smaller accents. You may also have a separate decorator in some cases.
Your interior designer's choices for the wall can have a significant impact on your budget. These walls with wood molding detail are more costly than other options, but add a very rich, luxe feel to the bedroom.View in gallery
The interior designer’s choices for the wall can have a significant impact on your budget. These walls with wood molding detail are more costly than other options, but add a very rich, luxury feel to a bedroom renovation.
The decisions and options for colors and details can seem endless. This is where working with an interior designer can help. Pendant lights from Luxi Studio come with myriad options for the cord and socket.View in gallery
The decisions and options for colors and details can seem endless. This is where working with an interior designer can help. Pendant lights from Luxi Studio come with myriad options for the cord and socket.

Cost vs. Value

When approaching the home renovation as a whole, always remember the cost vs. the value. “It’s about the desirability factor,” Douglas says. “I believe that when there are well-designed elements, people can imagine themselves living there.”

Details like this unusual wall shelving unit may drive the cost up, but can provide a great deal of value as more than just a home design element.View in gallery
Details like this unusual wall shelving unit may drive the cost up, but can provide a great deal of value as more than just a home design element.

“There are good/better/best decisions for everything and not everything needs to have a high cost to have a high impact,” he emphasizes.

Closet renovations are an example of an area where the budget can skyrocket. Adding lighting and luxe details like a leather covering in this closet doing from 4141 Design in Miami can add to the cost. The are endless options that will function as well, but don't have to be so over-the-top.View in gallery
Closet makeovers are an example of an area where a home renovation budget can skyrocket. Adding lighting and lux details like a leather covering in this closet from 4141 Design in Miami can add to the cost. The are endless options that will function as well, but don’t have to be so over-the-top.
A layout that cannot accommodate a walk-in closet can still feature spacious clothing storage like this.View in gallery
A layout that cannot accommodate a walk-in closet can still feature spacious clothing storage like this.
The interior designer will help design a space that reflects the way you live. This French provincial style still can include the latest appliance technologies.View in gallery
Your interior designer will help design a space that reflects the way you live. This French provincial style still can include the latest appliance technologies.
Your budget should also include the costs of upgrades that you might not see, such a special features inside your drawers and cabinets.View in gallery
Your kitchen renovation budget should also include the cost of upgrades that you might not see, such as special features inside your drawers and cabinets.
From a retro island, to glass front cupboards and a built-in rotisserie, a kitchen can include just about anything. The budget is the limiting for most homeowners.View in gallery
From a retro island, to glass front cupboards and a built-in rotisserie, a kitchen can include just about anything. The renovation budget is the limiting factor for most homeowners.
A good interior designer should be able to capture the way you live and the feel that you want to achieve in your newly renovated space.View in gallery
A good interior designer should be able to capture the way you live and the feel that you want to achieve in your newly renovated space.
Built-ins are a important budgeting component in any renovation project, large or small.View in gallery
Built-ins are a important budgeting component in any renovation project, large or small.

Lastly, Douglas says to make sure that your home renovation budget doesn’t cut out the sizzle in your project.  What good is a renovation if you can’t included a little “wow factor,” right?