Planning Out Your Budget

Hunter Pyle

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Planning out a home improvement budget is no different than planning out a household budget. To plan a home improvement budget one has to have a good idea of what the expenses will be and how to manage them. Then, one has to compare the expenses to the amount of money available to do the job. The costs should be broken down into materials and labor to do the job. An overhead of about 20% should be added for unforeseeable expenses.

Cost Of Materials

Some people think the cost of materials is what breaks the budget. It’s actually the cost of labor and poor planning that are the biggest factors in budget overruns. Materials can be easily budgeted. Unless you’ve picked a material that has to be custom made in batches, odds are you will be able to go back to the home improvement store and order more if you are short without breaking the budget.

You should develop a spreadsheet with all the materials you will need to complete your home improvement project. You should have already collected accurate measurements for counters or floors, so you can estimate what the total cost is for materials. Include additional materials for any solvents, glues, fasteners, or tools that you need to buy or rent to complete your project.

Cost of Labor

The only way to deal with the cost of labor is to get three estimates from contractors with good references. This will give you an indication of the cost of the labor and also should pinpoint some material costs. If you plan on doing the project yourself, you can save on labor immensely. If you don’t have the experience, but would like to offset labor costs, you might be able to work out a deal where you provide part of the less skilled labor. Some contractors won’t do this at all, so don’t be surprised if you get turned down.

Labor costs for do-it-yourselfers is only cheap if you are confident that you can do the project and meet all safety and quality building codes. Also, you don’t want to start a project and then be required to call a contractor to finish it as an emergency project. Odds are, the contractor will charge for removal of your work and starting over. If you think that you cannot do a quality job or haven’t sufficient experience, check out your local home improvement stores to see if they have classes on the project you are trying to do yourself. This will give you an idea of whether it is worth it to hire a contractor or to attempt the job yourself.


No matter how well you budget for the job, be aware that most people put aside about 15 to 20% in excess of the total budget for cost overruns. It may seem as if your project is on schedule and on budget, but a few minor changes can add money here and there. Prepare for that potential by keeping a little extra money in the budget and you won’t feel strapped should the emergency arrive.

Hunter Pyle wrote this article to give advice to those looking to manage a home improvement budget. For more home improvement ideas that will fit your budget check out Get Organized or Kitchen and Much More.


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