Manage Money Better

How to Keep Home Renovations from Getting Out of Hand

Q. My husband and I are planning to do some renovations to our home, even though family members are telling us not to. Looking at paint samples and decorating guides is the fun part, but what can we do so that we end up living to tell about it and enjoying our renovated home together Keeping home renovations within budget.

A. Many people embark on home renovation projects with the best of intentions and firm plans about what the end result will be. However, you only need to flip on the TV for a moment, or talk to a friend who’s done it, to find out that it’s not as easy as it may look. Here are some things to consider as you decide what to do with your own projects:

  • Identify what you want to do and get several quotes. Several quotes will let you determine where you can save money and where you can’t; if you need to break your plans down into a few smaller projects so that it’s more affordable in the long run; or if you need to get more information before you make a decision.
  • After you have a few quotes in hand, you and your husband need to set some ground rules and agree on certain things. Decide what project you’re actually doing – are you building a new deck or re-landscaping the entire yard? Consider what you can afford and establish the budget for your renovations. Agree to stick to the budget and also what you will do if you need to go over budget. Once you start your project, it likely makes sense to complete it. However, as with so many home renovations, once you get a better look behind the wall or into the attic, things may get more complicated and more expensive.
  • Consider the impact of do-it-yourself renovations on your personal relationships. While you may hire a contractor to help with the heavy lifting, you may want to save some money and contribute your own sweat-equity to the job. What impact will this have on your family’s life during the renovations? Will you be satisfied with the work your spouse does; will it get done on time; what happens if it never seems to get done; does your family need both of you to help with other commitments, e.g. children’s activities, volunteer projects or work obligations; and what about your relationship with your spouse? If discussions about money are tricky now, they won’t get easier as you try to compromise on paint colours and choose new fixtures.

So many people start by renovating one room, maybe their kitchen or one bathroom and bedroom. They spend more than anticipated on those renovations and while they may look great, what about the other rooms, hallways and outside look of their house? Or worse, they renovate for looks but now have run out of money for general home maintenance that also still needs to be done. A new kitchen is great, but if the roof starts to leak, it makes it hard to enjoy the new kitchen.

Some well done renovation projects will increase the value of your home when it comes time to sell, but in the mean time, if you want to put your feet up and enjoy your “new” home, take steps to ensure that your renovations don’t run rampant and cause you many years of financial stress.

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