It all starts with a budget. Whether we’re talking about a simple solution or a fairly major home improvement project, there are many factors and variables to be considered before a budget can be determined, but this is where it begins. Before a course of action can be agreed upon – whether the homeowner is doing the work themselves or someone like us is providing it, there has to be a monetary parameter established.
The budget is affected by the projected or anticipated size of the project, the number of elements involved, how many people need to be involved in doing the work, the technical nature of the work, the expertise or specialization of the team members required, the quality or brand name of the fixtures and components selected, and the intended lifespan of the improvements. Doing something as a “quick-fix” that only needs to last a year or two until something else is decided versus doing something for a ten-year period or longer definitely factors into the pricing.
Just as finding out from a custom home builder that they typically build for a certain price per square foot and that a competitor is higher or lower than this really reveals nothing about what ultimately may need to be spent to create the desired look and end result. The quality and type of the features and fixtures used will have a direct bearing on the overall project cost.
When we are told or when we hear someone tell us that something is so much a square foot to build, we immediately need to learn or ask what this includes before we can determine if this is a good number or not. Obviously, using an entry-grade or entry-level item versus a luxury or higher-end one is not going to factor into the price per square foot scenario the same.
This same thinking applies to our clients. They might be people who are interested in achieving a certain result at the lowest possible cost – something that will be safe and serviceable to use but done in the most economically possible way. This is most likely to occur when the improvements weren’t really something that had been anticipated or contemplated, when the length of time they will be needed is relatively short, and when there is a very limited budget for this project.
They could be people who want a little higher quality but still are conscious of holding to a budget, or they might be interested in achieving a top-notch job with top-of-the-line appliances and fixtures in their design. A solution for a traumatic injury won’t have been budgeted at all since the injury or condition was never anticipated, but it must be dealt with just the same – and quickly.
Before we can begin formulating a budget and determine a resulting scope of work that coincides with that amount of money, we need to learn what people are envisioning as improvements, what they have identified as potential weaknesses or areas of concern in their home layout, and what they are able to expend from their own resources without looking to outside funding sources. We can’t be acting as loan originators, but we should be knowledgeable of appropriate funding sources for the types of clients we are working with and the projects that we are doing.
Another way of arriving at a budget is to ask our clients what types of fixtures, appliances, flooring, cabinetry, door hardware, wall treatments, and other items – by description and possibly name brand they are interested in using or that they have knowledge of – to learn how realistic they are and to help ground them in potential project expenses. There is no point moving forward with the client having unrealistic expectations about what it will take to achieve their desired results. As long as they have a sensible approach to what needs to be done, they might not be able to get everything they want, but we can give them everything they require to fulfill their needs.