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  • Jeff Russell

Top reasons why cost estimates may change

Picture this: You’ve met with a contractor, established a budget range, signed a retainer agreement, and started the design process. Then, when you come to the final contract, you realize that you’re over budget.


What happened?

Example of a higher end bathroom finish

When a client initially comes to us, they have a desired budget range in mind. We take a look at the project and walk them through an estimate and discuss what can be done in their price range. At this point in the process, all the costs are estimated and not hard numbers, but rather a good ballpark range based on our experience.



Although our team at Russell Room Remodelers does our very best to give you the most accurate initial quote, there are instances in which you are faced with decisions that may increase your budget.



Examples of why you may come in over budget after the retainer (and before the final contract is signed):


When you decide to move forward, we then sign an initial design contract, which includes a nonrefundable retainer (this will be applied directly to the total cost of your project). After this design contract is signed, it’s time for you to make your selections. These decisions are what truly drives your budget.

Based on the budget range you bring to us, we will give you options. Choosing items outside of the suggested selections is the number one way your budget may increase. During this phase, we work hard to help you through the selections, explaining what to choose to stay within your range.

New master bathroom remodel in Woodbury.

After the selections are made and the design is set, we have our trade partners quote their portion of your project. The final design may require more work than we estimated or have code requirements. For example, a small detail like a deeper kitchen sink, may require the plumbing in the wall to be reworked and add costs not included in the initial estimate. Our goal is to have a clear understanding of the scope and the costs before we sign the contract.


Even with careful planning it is possible to run over budget.



Examples of ways you may add costs after the final contract is signed:


Often, the scope of the project begins to grow after the contract has been signed and the subcontractors begin their work.


For example, there are add ons that feel “small”, although they often add more than expected. For example, adding accessories to cabinets, such as rollouts, can quickly snowball. If you want to add one, it’s a simple $150 additional charge. However, if you’d like to add one to every cabinet in your kitchen, you can easily add an extra $1,000-2,000 to your overall project. The bottom line: as the scope grows, the overall cost of the project does as well.


When subcontractors come into your home and begin work on a remodel that takes weeks, it’s easy to continue to add to the vision. “If they’re already ripping out your kitchen floor, why not put carpet in the family room as well? And since we’re doing the family room, let’s make some changes to the powder room.”


Flooring is just one example of how change orders come into play, but increasing project scope can apply to many other aspects of the remodel project, including countertops, trim, appliances, and others.


Modern kitchen remodel in Woodbury

Other times, a simple change order isn’t quite so simple. For example, if you want to extend your kitchen countertops, you may need to completely change the electrical wiring in your kitchen. Depending on the set up of the room, you may also need to consider the cabinetry, the backsplash, the HVAC placement (sometimes this needs to be moved), or even structural changes. Because each piece of your home is interconnected, it’s never quite as simple as just “putting in an extra countertop”. Some questions we consider when looking at a “simple” change order, such as adding or extending a piece of your home, are as follows:

  • Will we need to reframe anything?

  • Do we have to add extra outlets?

  • Will there be infrastructure changes?

  • Extra labor to consider?

  • Will there be additional items like tile, backsplash, and countertops to consider?


Lastly, we may find “hidden conditions” during your home remodel project, and have no choice but to correct them. For example, we may be removing a soffit and find unexpected plumbing, wiring, or venting. In order to install your cabinets or pass inspection, this is something that we will need to correct.


Our suggestions to help you plan for and stay within your budget:


  • Be as clear as you can communicating to us your budget expectations

  • Don’t rush the planning phase

  • Don’t cut key structural items that would be hard to do in the future

  • Be realistic about needs vs. wants

  • Leave yourself some room for ‘surprises’ or add ons



During the initial consultation , our team at Russell Room Remodelers walks you through the process to help provide an accurate estimate. As you move into the planning phase, we will guide you through the design and selection process to a final contract price. Our goal is to help you stay in budget and to clearly explain the factors that may cause it to rise, whether they be the fluctuations in material prices, code requirements, or ‘little’ add ons.


Want to get a cost estimate for your upcoming home project? Click here to schedule a free consultation.


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