How to Avoid Going Over Budget During a Renovation



Stay on budget during a renovation….”not possible” you say? If you have no idea what your budget should be or if you are worried you about how to avoid going over budget, keep reading! I know you likely have friends or family who have renovated and have sad tales of a budget increasing by 50%, 75% and even doubling from its original number!! Fortunately, that’s a rare instance and there was likely a structural issue that caused that kind of spike in numbers. Every homeowner starts their project with the intention to avoid going over budget during a renovation but without proper planning and a whole lot of knowledge, how will you make sure that happens? 

There’s often a miscommunication between a contractor and the clients that starts at the very beginning of the project. The contractor may have created a budget using “typical” costs while the homeowner has visions of luxury finishes throughout. “Champagne taste on a beer budget” is a real thing in the interior design world. Almost always it’s not a matter of delusional clients but instead it’s that they genuinely didn’t realize the true cost of items. So how do you successfully stay on budget during a renovation?


avoid going over budget during a renovation




If you only do one of these steps, do this one. I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important it is to be prepared for your renovation. You’ll need to devote time to shopping either virtually or in person for every major area you want to include in your project. Know what’s out there and know what it costs. It’s truly the only way to avoid going over budget.

Let’s use countertops as an example. Know the various types of material options is step 1. Once you’ve settled on one, go shopping. You don’t need to pick your slab or visit all the showrooms but you do need to have a clear understanding of what an average countertop in your preferred material will cost. Don’t look at the number someone else spent. Know the cost per sq. ft so that you’re actually aware of what your kitchen might cost. Now do that with all the major pieces of your project. Yes, this is a ton of work but wouldn’t you rather do the work than be run over by a runaway budget?

I recently created a FREE BUDGET GUIDE that you can download and use in planning your project. It’s 8 pages of seriously valuable info! I share the costs associated with every type of home renovation or decorating project. I show you the low, mid and high costs for everything from a kitchen renovation to custom window coverings. If you’re planning a renovation, this will be your Bible. 

avoid going over budget during a renovation


A mistake that I’ve seen which can easily be avoided is clients feeling embarrassed by the number they have available for their renovation so they embellish this number. This is pretty obvious but if your contractor and designer think you have more money than you do, you’ll ultimately end up spending that amount. 

Another reason is that clients think if they have $50k to spend they’ll hold back some for unexpected surprises. A well prepared budget always accounts for changes and unknown surprises. If you trust your team you need to put it all out on the table at the beginning and trust that the money is being well spent. If you have questions about how money is being allocated or spent, call a meeting and discuss it openly. 

My job as a designer is to maximize your dollars and get you the very best for your budget so honesty will be the best route there. Afterall, my job is really to help you stay on budget during a renovation as well as design a beautiful space.

avoid going over budget during a renovation

SOURCE: Setting for Four

living room with navy walls white club chairs and art wall

SOURCE: Greige Design


Another mistake I see is clients who declare their intention to go for only the best of everything without knowing what that means for their budget. Part of how I help my clients is in helping them prioritize their wants. Where can we save a little and where do we want to splurge?

I usually advise kitchen and bathroom clients to spend the money on things they can’t easily replace in the future – cabinetry, countertops and tile. Everything else is decorative and easily swapped out for something else in the future. 

You definitely don’t want to rip out a countertop in 2 years to install the “better” version but you could easily switch a light fixture or even an appliance without too much hassle. 

If you can afford everything your heart desires, great but if not, you want to prioritize based on ease and convenience.


YES PLEASE!! In a perfect world your interior designer would be part of the meetings with the contractor from the beginning. The earlier we are brought in the more cohesive your team will be. 

There are tons of stories about contractors and other trades not getting along with the designer and vice versa. This can almost always be avoided by bringing the team together early so that everyone has a chance to discuss their vision and their financial priorities. When it’s early, plans can be tweaked and revised with everyone’s cooperation. It will put an end to the position that it’s us against them. 

If you can do that you’ll create a much happier team. When the contractor and the designer are both working towards a shared goal of making the project as seamless and enjoyable as possible, you will benefit immensely. And it’s way more fun to be on a job site when everyone is getting along well.

living room with navy walls white club chairs and art wall

SOURCE: At Home in Arkansas


Sometimes the most beautiful projects are the ones that had the largest number of change orders or even the biggest number of issues throughout. The success of a project is often due to the flexibility of the homeowners. Never has this been more true than now, during this time of covid. Delays are immense and manufacturing and shipping times have been doubling or tripling in timelines compared to previous years. 

If there are materials that you’re absolutely set on having, make that clear from the beginning but keep an open mind as well. If you fell in love with a tile on Pinterest only to find out it’s $200/sq.ft. you can decide to go ahead knowing that it’s way over budget. Alternatively, you could allow your designer to source something with a similar look in order to avoid going over budget. 

If you want to stick to a budget you might have to be more flexible than you are normally. Also remember that a beautiful tile is only one part of the whole. Once the room is complete you won’t be staring at the tile in isolation like you do at the tile store. Your designer will make sure it will come together regardless of the tile you pick

transitional living room with cane chair, traditional table and oversized greenery

SOURCE: Decor Gold Designs


Well there you have it. Those are my tips for how to avoid going over budget during a renovation. Have you already downloaded my Budget Guide? If not, do yourself a favour and get on over to my website for your free copy. I promise you’ll find it useful for a long time to come. 

Are you thinking about renovating soon? My Elite Design package is perfect for helping to guide you through the process.

Unlock your unique design style

Take the design style quiz



Success! Please check your inbox for your 3 Easy Steps.

Pin It on Pinterest