How to Start Figuring Out Your Remodeling Construction Budget

When considering a remodeling construction project, the first thing to figure out is your budget: know what you can afford, what actually is feasible for that amount, and avoid potential roadblocks by expecting too little or trying to do too much.

One of the top questions I get is, “What is my remodel going to cost? So, how do you figure out what to budget for a remodeling project in a place like Denver?

It’s no secret that the cost of housing and construction in the Denver area and along the Front Range has increased in the past decade. First off, know that budgeting for a long-term project like a remodel feels daunting for nearly everyone. It’s terrifying to imagine realizing you need a redesign after your project has started because it turns out you can’t afford the original plan. That’s a waste of precious time, in addition to money, and adds unnecessary stress.

This is why I encourage my clients to prioritize and be pragmatic when figuring out their overall budget, and consider some of the items that impact that final number.

Questions to Consider When Budgeting for a Remodeling Project in Denver

1. What are the items you absolutely need or cannot imagine living without?

Remodeling your house is realizing a dream. We all can dream that money doesn’t matter, but you don’t want to have a design for a remodel you can’t afford. It’s important to make sure to match your dreams with reality, especially when it comes to budgeting.

Be clear what you cannot give up, whether it’s more lighting, more square footage, more storage, or something else. What’s on your must-have list?

2. What are you willing to give up?

Perhaps you like the look of a deep soaking tub in a spa-quality bathroom… But if you aren’t a person who takes baths now, that’s not likely to change just because you upgrade your floor plan. 

Think deeply about what’s an aesthetic choice or a “nice to have” versus something that improves the way you live your everyday life. Move the items that you can live without to a lower priority on the list.

3. How involved can you be in each step of the process? What are the limits to your time and energy?

These projects take time and a lot of that time is dictated by someone or something else: The permitting process, supply chains, and the literal time it takes to frame or drywall or finish, for starters. 

Few of my clients have the time, energy, and experience to act as project managers; instead of trying to be your own general contractor, I recommend my clients hire a contractor equipped with a good design, a strong plan, and a solid team to act on their behalf and in their best interests, which saves money, time, and stress in the long run.

What Else Do You Need to Know About Figuring Out Your Remodeling Budget?

Be realistic about your DIY skills.

While some folks have the skills to do certain touches themselves, some are aspirational at best. A major renovation likely isn’t the best time to teach yourself how to tile a floor and given the stress and the expense, it might end up costing you more in the long run than hiring a professional from the get-go.

One thing people underestimate is how exhausting the process of taking on a project can be. If your project is 30% over budget, this isn’t going to be fixed by taking on a lot of excess items as DIY projects.

Don’t expect too little.

Two areas where potential clients often seek clarity and support are the costs of an architect and a quality contractor. Hiring qualified construction professionals who are a good personality fit for you and who understand your remodeling project goals is the absolute best investment you can make to keep a project within budget.

This is one reason why I get the general contractor on board sooner rather than later in any project. We not only get rough pricing for material and labor, but also start gathering our team of trustworthy professionals and factor in their costs as early as possible. This ensures the design is within budget before any permit is filed or any hammer is ever picked up.

Understand that some things are outside everyone’s control.

Sometimes a scope does have to be reduced for costs that can’t be controlled, like the sudden spike in the price of lumber after every sawmill shut down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Original plans for this Castlewood Ranch project called for a wraparound porch. But the increase in lumber and labor costs meant that we had to scale the porch down; by having less decking, less framing, and less roof, we were able to keep the project within the budget. Though it meant forgoing a wraparound porch, we focused on putting the porch on the two sides with the best views. The clients were still able to complete an impressive addition, reconfigure the interior, and have a large covered porch that all stayed within budget. Plus, they can always extend the porch fully around the house at a later time.

Final Thoughts

Being clear about what’s important to you is imperative to figuring out your overall budget. That’s sometimes easier said than done as remodeling is personal and these decisions are very emotional: we’re talking about spending a serious chunk of change on creating a space that betters your everyday life — of course it’s emotional!

By taking a step back and thinking about functional importance first (we need more light, we need an extra bathroom) and what are things you can wait for, you’ll start off your budgeting on solid footing, which will make for a smoother remodeling project overall. 

Ready to get started on making your house the home of your dreams? Let’s chat.