Tailoring Your Budget for Your Home

I believe in honesty and transparency in my business. So, why don't I have pricing listed on my website? Well, it's BECAUSE I believe in honesty and transparency. If I were to list a price range for a remodel project, I may be giving the right idea to Suzy Q. who wants to remodel her kitchen. But, poor John D. is given the complete wrong idea for his fireplace renovation project. These are both remodels, but both require a completely different amount of design time. 

We all feel a little like Madonna in a "Material Girl" video when getting started on a home project. It's easy to get carried away!

So, I'm going to tell you RIGHT NOW how to plan for your design project budget. Ready? First, I want you to determine the value of your home. For this example, we are going to talk about a home with a value of $800,000. 

Cost of a Kitchen Remodel: 8-15% of the home value

That's quite a range, isn't it? Well, a kitchen that is very small and maintaining the same footprint (no plumbing moved) will cost less than a kitchen that is large and requires more cabinetry and detailed design work. Let's plan on a complete gut and remodel, but try not to get extravagant here, and plan on 10%... a tight budget, but doable at $80,000. Yes, that's a lot of money, but that IS a tight budget when trying to maintain the integrity of the home. To go below the 8% mark would almost definitely decrease the value of the home.

Okay, we set aside $80,000. How much will the design work cost? For a kitchen project, it is generally a good idea to set aside 15% of your budget for design fees. Now, you may go to a kitchen design firm and hear "the design is free with cabinet purchase". The design is most definitely not free. It is hidden in the cost of cabinetry. Additionally, those firms (and this is their right!) will include that mark up in the cabinetry whether they've done the design work or not. So, if you get a designer to develop a plan, then take it to a kitchen designer for ordering, you will pay for design twice. 

Short answer- this kitchen remodel will cost $80,000. Set aside $8,000 for design fees (hidden or not).

Master Bathroom Remodel: 10% of the home value

Again, this varies tremendously based on the size of your bathroom and the fixtures and finishes selected, but this is a safe amount to set aside. Going below this amount will likely devalue your home. 

$800,000 home - $80,000 for the master bath. Set aside $12,000 for design fees.

Guest or Powder Bath: 5% of the home value

While it's fun to be showy in a powder bath, and I most definitely encourage it, this is generally a smaller space and less time is spent in this space. Be fun, be showy, but be reasonable at the same time.

$800,000 home - $40,000 for the powder bath. Set aside $6,000 for design fees.

Other Rooms

Additional spaces can generally be estimated to cost 1-3% of the home value. Design fees might be a little different here though, depending on what is included. Is the home to be fully furnished, updated a bit, new window treatments, paint, any remodel work? Estimate with a 10% design fee, and keep in mind that there certainly are variables.

If you're going to furnish your entire home- set aside 20-25% of your home value for the furnishings. If you have some pieces and are looking to fill in the gaps, plan on 15% of your home value.

$800,000 home with full furnishings: $200,000. 

$800,000 home with some furnishings: $120,000.

For the design fees throughout the home, I recommend setting aside $5-7/square foot to include furnishing and remodel work throughout. Let's say this $800,000 home is 3500 square feet. In that case, it would be a good idea to set aside $21,000 for design fees. This can vary depending on the project and the extent of the work but is a good rule of thumb for a starter budget.

Fixtures and Finishes

If you're working with a builder or architect and would like to bring a designer on board to develop fixture and finish selections, expect to spend about $2/sf for a full home on the design fee. For selection budgeting, I recommend looking at this article as a pretty accurate source for budgeting each item. My only comment is that I would make the "optional" buffer not so optional!