bathroom remodeling woodbridge va

Why You Shouldn't be Afraid to Reveal Your Hand

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and renovate your kitchen and bathroom! You’ve watched home improvement shows, collected design magazines, searched the internet for inspiration, and have a clear vision for your improved home. Now that you’re prepared to make your dream a reality, it’s time to pick a contractor. During this hunt, everyone’s least favorite part of renovating will inevitably get brought up: your budget!

Many clients enter the interview process wanting to say very little about their budget. The concern is that if you show your hand too early and reveal your top budget, you’ll get taken advantage of, especially if you have a sizable budget. Your contractor might take your budget and milk you for all you’ve got, even if they could have done the project cheaper. This might be true of one or two men operations without any overhead as they can work considerably cheaper, but it’s not the case for well-established firms.

While there is always a degree of negotiation with every renovation, I’ve found the design and sales process much easier working with clients who tell me their ideal and maximum budgets from the beginning. In all my years of meeting clients, I have not once had a client name a budget number that was way higher than it needed to be. Whether I meet someone with a 10K or a 100K budget, the design they hope to achieve always falls over the amount they want to spend. In fact, it averages around 25% lower than the realistic budget they need to accomplish their dream renovation. This is the case across the board in talking with other reputable design-build firms.

So instead of hiding your budget for fear of budgeting too high. I would assume the budget you’ve picked is too low. Most people set their budgets based on research and word of mouth. When googling “how much does a kitchen or bathroom renovation cost,” you’ll end up on websites that set unrealistic expectations for wishful thinkers to latch onto. Rarely do construction companies reveal true amounts online, not because they are lower than your standard Google results but because they are much higher. They are afraid of not even being considered because they’ll seem too expensive based on internet dreaming. It’s only when you start the design process that you’ll truly start to understand how your project is priced after you’ve built some rapport and trust with your contractor.

renovate kitchen

My advice? Put your cards on the table right from the beginning. Set your budget, reserving some amount as a contingency in case something comes up during construction, or you decide to add items to your scope of work. 

I would present this to the companies you interview at the first meeting, telling them your ideal budget, your max budget, and your “if I pay this, you understand there will be no change orders” budget. Being this candid and open with your potential contractor does the following:

  1. You’ll figure out quickly whether your budget is achievable.

Once you start sharing your budget, you’ll get instant feedback about whether your budget is workable for what you’re hoping to accomplish. This is when you’ll get your reality check as contractors give feedback about whether they can work with your budget. If everyone is telling you, they can’t work with your budget or simply not returning your phone calls after their initial visit. It probably means you need to rethink your budget entirely. If everyone seems amenable to your budget with only a few compromises, you’re off to a good start.

2. You’ll narrow your contractor selection.

Assuming your budget is realistic, you want your final pool of contractors to be limited to those who will propose an estimate you can afford. There’s no point in going through the design process of a premier, high-end company you know right from the beginning is way outside of your budget. Even if it means working with a smaller company or doing more project management yourself, having a clear expectation of what you’re willing to spend will allow you to work with companies who can meet your needs.  

3. You’ll get a realistic design and proposal.

There’s nothing more satisfying than designing to a budget. When my clients set a clear budget, I can help them make design and material choices that give them the overall aesthetic they are looking for without breaking the bank. When I present my final estimate, it’s very natural as it’s somewhat along the lines of what they set out to spend. If you’ve got a budget set aside, why not make the most of it? Renovating is about improving your quality of life, not necessarily getting the cheapest thing possible.

4, You won’t get attached to ideas you can’t afford

There’s nothing worse than designing your perfect kitchen and bathroom, falling in love with your choices, and finding out in the end that there’s no way you can afford it. Every renovation has a compromise. It’s nice to put unfordable ideas off the table before you get invested in them. Just like buying a car, you might just glance at the super expensive vehicles just to see, but you’ll want to invest your time among good choices that work for your budget.      

If you’re considering renovating your kitchen or bathroom and debating about how soon you should reveal your budget, I hope you’re now at ease. In my opinion, you’ll have only positive outcomes from being transparent with your contractor. The more information you’re able to provide, the more your contractor will be able to lead you down the right path. This assumes, of course, that you are interviewing reputable, well-established companies. If you’ve brought in Joe Shmoe from Home Depot, by all means, keep your budget to yourself. If, however, you want to work with a company that will help you get the most out of your budget, give Mayflower Construction a call.


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