Our friends at ‘Classic Home Improvements’ (www.classichomeremodeling.com) wrote a fascinating blog on sharing budget information with builders or contractors. Most clients are reluctant to share any budget information before they have a quote in hand – most likely assuming that the estimator will then price the job to the high end of the provided budget. That’s not how we operate though. It’s crucial information for us to be able to serve you affectively and efficiently, and ultimately deliver the best product we can for the amount you’re willing to spend. Some of their examples drift into home renovations and weddings, but the same concepts apply to landscaping. Here’s what they had to say:
When you are meeting with contractors to get estimates for a remodeling project, most representatives will ask for your budget range. If you have ever asked yourself if you should provide your contractor with a remodel budget, the answer is YES. Remodeling contractors ask you for your budget for several reasons, all of which are meant to help you.
Obtaining an estimate
Some homeowners will invite contractors out to their home to provide an estimate on a remodel. While having no idea what their budget is. Or at least …. that is what they tell the contractor. The truth is, if you are planning a remodel – you have some sort of idea of what you want to invest in the space. Even if you do not know how much the project will cost, you know what you are willing to spend. Or rather, what you are not willing to exceed. That is the number you need to share with your contractor.
Contractors can walk into your home, discuss all your dreams for your remodel, and come up with a price for you without knowing what your budget number is, that is true. Many times when remodeling contractors do that, they are giving you exactly what you want design-wise. But the price is outside of what you intend to spend. This means you think (a) the contractor is over-priced and out of their mind. Or (b) you give up because you think you can’t afford to do your project. Neither of those scenarios is true.
Acknowledging your budget
Here is what homeowners typically do not understand: your remodeling contractor can help you reach your design goals within your budget if they understand what your budget is. Some people might fire back and say “well, my contractor is just going to make the price whatever I say my budget is, so I am not going to tell him”. That’s not entirely accurate. This is what your remodeling contractor is going to do with your budget information. He is going to work with your dream design. And, adjust the scope of work and re-design to make the remodel work within your budget.
If you ever planned a wedding or a big party, it is kind of the same thing as remodeling, but on a different scale. You know you do not want to exceed $20,000 on the wedding. But you have grandiose plans to have the bride approach in a horse and carriage. You will have a beautiful venue with swans and release doves at the end of the ceremony. You want a live band and flowers on every table. Since you know your “not to exceed” number is $20,000 you start prioritizing you what have to have so you can stay within your budget.
Remodeling is very similar. You want to open up your dining room wall to create an open concept kitchen, add a kitchen island, and move your range to sit within your island. Your ceiling seems low so you want to raise the lid and add canned lights. You found a pot filler that you just have to have. Then you get your price of $100,000. OUCH. Time to make some adjustments.
Staying within your remodeling budget
If you were to provide your contractor with your remodeling budget, or the number you are not willing to exceed, then your contractor can navigate for you what can or cannot be done within your budget. Contractors can help you to prioritize wants so you can get a dream kitchen without breaking the bank. In the situation above, your contractor may steer you away from moving the range. Because it means relocating the gas which may significantly impact the budget. Or he might suggest enlarging your kitchen window versus raising the ceiling. Your contractor has been in literally hundreds of homes and has options for you that you haven’t even considered.
A reputable remodeling contractor is going to want to know what your budget is so he can guide you towards getting the biggest bang for your buck. If you are asked for your budget, be forthright with your contractor. If this is the team you are going to have in your home for weeks (or months, if it is a large remodel), it is important to be transparent. So you are given advice that meets your goals both financially and aesthetically.