19 November, 2020

Project Tips to Stay In Budget

How Design Helps Home Construction Success

Upward Construction’s recent Facebook Live event “Top 3 Tips To Stay In Budget” features Matthew Inkster, Operations at Upward sharing tips for homeowners to stay on budget for their renovation or custom home project. We’re sharing this valuable information as a blog series as well, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so you can follow along with the series.

The three tips to help homeowners stay on budget for home renovations and new home builds are: 1) Don’t start your renovation or custom home project until fully designed 2) Ask what isn’t included 3) Team alignment is needed. This article will tackle the first tip and share how you can get the most value from your contractor and enjoy the experience of designing or renovating by starting the project with the correct information for planning and budget management.


Don’t start your construction project until fully designed

You might be wondering what do we mean by “fully designed”? How do you get there? And how does this impact my construction budget?

Building or renovating a home in the Lower Mainland is a large project and one that can be daunting even to the most organized and prepared homeowner. We have helped many homeowners navigate the path so they can get the most value from their budget.

As you begin the journey, the first step is to decide what your budget expectations will be for the project. To stay on budget for a renovation or custom home build, you need to first set a realistic budget. When doing your research typically you’ll turn to friends, family and neighbours who recently completed a similar project first to get an idea of what they spent.

When budgeting compare apples-to-apples

Home construction can cost more in Vancouver due to the labour costs and the general cost of living being higher than in other regions in Canada or the US. Appliances, fixtures and finishes etc. make up a part of the costs of construction projects, but everything from delivery to installation will cost more in Vancouver than in many parts of the country.

Having a realistic expectation built from local comparisons is key to not being disappointed early on.

How quality expectations affect the budget

As you compare construction project budgets consider the level of quality of finishing and craftsmanship that you’ll want versus what your comparisons reflect. Deciding what level of quality needs to be a discussion that involves all of the homeowners as pricing is directly aligned to the quality level.

It isn’t good enough to say that you want the best quality or good quality. Are you looking for all wood custom cabinets or something off the shelf? Both can be considered good quality but there is a difference in price based on your expectations.

Best practices to help you decide on construction and finishing quality level

Find a reference house – an open house or a friend’s renovation and look at their finishing, cabinet construction and how the drawers slide open and close. Take notes on what you like.

Next, bring your contractor and designer and get tactile. Ask a lot of questions on what the level of quality is for the items you’re looking at on the tour. Decide with the designer on the level of quality so they work to your expectations.

A good example of how deciding on the level of quality would be assessing vehicles: you want a Toyota Highlander, but the designer is drawing a Porsche Cayenne, and the contractor is budgeting for a Honda Civic. It will be hard to tell from the drawings and the estimate, but if you are able to give a physical example then it really helps to get everyone on the same page.

I want…I need…how to prioritize

Next, it’s time to consider your needs, wants, and desires. No matter how far into the process you are, build a list of needs, wants and desires for your construction project, this becomes your scope of work. As mentioned before remodelling a home, or building a custom home are large projects so sit down and review these items with your partner to come to an aligned decision on the list based on these key areas:

  • Needs: What is the problem the project has to solve. What can you not live without?
  • Wants: Not a “need” per se, but something that would really make you happy to achieve.
  • Desires: Nice splashes, if the budget allows then great, but the first to get scratched if you need to free up some budget.

Once the list is created you can communicate the items to your designer and construction company. Now your design can begin to design to your quality level and prioritize the scope of the work that will turn into your construction estimate.

As drawings are created these become the reference for the work being done on your project and include details on the products and selections you’ve made during the design process.

Expect the unexpected

Inevitably things will come up that weren’t expected as you open up walls, start the excavation phase, or something fails in the home that wasn’t planned and rest assured there will be bumps along the way. To stay within budget having the priorities spelled out will keep your budget on track. If everyone knows what the goal of the project is then we can all work through the bumps towards the goal.

Design, decide, then budget

So, in summary, don’t start a project until it’s designed to meet your quality and fulfills at least your needs. This is hard, you may feel obligated to start because people have put work into it, or you have sunk money into the design. You are in control and need to feel comfortable.

The contractor’s estimate will only be as accurate as the information they get. The more detail they have the less ambiguous their quote should be. Have your designer include an elevation drawing for every wall that has anything more than paint and trim on it.

Now you know what it means to start a home construction project fully designed! Set your expectation, decide on the level of quality, and create the scope of work. You are on the way to have an on-budget construction project.

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Can’t wait? Watch the Facebook Live event recording for the full series and don’t forget to like our Facebook page to see more exciting content about home renovations and custom home builds.

About Upward

Upward Construction & Renovation is a custom home and large renovation construction firm serving clients in North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Vancouver. Feel free to connect to discuss your upcoming project:

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