How to Realistically Budget For a Reno

How to Realistically Budget For a Reno

You’ve been watching Fixer Upper, Property Brothers and Bryan Inc. all winter, and you’ve set aside some money for a renovation project this year. But how realistic is your budget, how much do you really need, and what about the surprises?

How Realistic is Your Budget?

Obviously, the first question you have to ask yourself is how much can I afford? There are numerous options available when it comes to paying for your project. Savings, line of credit, credit card, re-mortgage, bank loan, and 3rd party financing are a few that would encompass the majority of options. In our opinion, you should be very careful if your plan is to finance your project. Going into debt so you can have granite counter tops isn’t always the most wise decision.

Now that you have the “how are we paying for this” figured out, it’s time to start thinking about a realistic budget. At this point you’ve done your due diligence and have selected a contractor. But even with quote in hand, you need to be prepared.

  1. It is quite common for projects to come in over budget, this is something you need to be prepared for. At minimum, you should include 10% for overages or surprises. However, if you can, plan for 20-30%. We’ll go into greater detail below on a few typical circumstances that would lead to your project going over budget.
  2. Materials will also play a big role in affecting your budget. There is a huge difference in the price of floor coverings, counter top materials, even something as simple as paint. Make sure that you have done your research.
  3. What about hotels, restaurants? In some cases, you may need to be out of your house or without a kitchen or bathroom for a period of time. Have you included hotel stays or eating out in your overall budget.



Surprises come in all shapes and sizes; it’s important to at least be aware of what might happen before, during, and after your renovation. One of the biggest causes for projects to go over budget are usually hiding in the walls, ceilings, and floors. It’s difficult for any contractor to see through walls and under floors. We’ve all seen the reno shows on HGTV where our favourite host runs into outdated electrical, cracked foundations, mold, termites…etc., etc. Many of these issues are common in older homes but are certainly not limited to them.

Another major factor that can affect your budget are change orders. A change order is a document used to record an amendment to your original construction contract. Changes happen all the time. For instance, you’re getting your bathroom renovated and had decided to re-use your existing fixtures. You happen to be at your favourite hardware store and have fallen in love with a pedestal sink that wasn’t in the original contract. Adding your new sink might be as simple as replacing the old one. However, it also may result in having to have your plumbing re-routed, and flooring changed to accommodate the smaller footprint. These changes can add up and alter your original budget if you’re not careful.

Another thing to keep in mind is product availability. Does your granite need to come from Italy? Is cedar readily available in the middle of January?

The more research you have done, the more you have communicated with your contractor, the better you will be equipped to deal with any surprises that come your way. You can almost guarantee that you’re going to run into something that will alter your overall budget. It’s how prepared you are to react to them that will determine the success or failure of your project.

If you are planning a project and would like to discuss your budget, get a hold of us, we’d be happy to chat.

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