If you’ve ever talked to someone who has remodeled or renovated his home, you’ve probably heard that person say that they went over budget. Some only spend a little more than planned, but others have spent hundreds or thousands over what they initially anticipated. If you want to avoid the same problem, you’ll need to take some time to do the research and map out a realistic budget.

Creating a Basic Budget Model

Start by creating a basic budget. Look at the money you have set aside and then consider only 85% of those funds to be available to you to actually use. If you go over the 85%, you’ll have the other 15% to draw from. Unless you’re super skilled or patient, you’ll want to set 25% of that 85% aside to pay for labor costs. Carefully consider whether or not you need to hire someone. If you’re not a home improvement whiz and don’t have more than a hammer and screw driver in your tool collection, you’ll probably spend more than you think on tools and supplies. Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to hire help.

Wants Versus Needs

Once you know how much you can spend, you can start to map out the small details. Make a list of the materials you’ll definitely need to get your project finished. Make sure you write down the prices as well. After that you can take a look at the things you really want but don’t necessarily need. Things like door seals and window seals are needs. Things like fancy window treatments and blinds are not. If there’s still room in the budget, you can add these in later. Set some rules for yourself, too. For example, do not allow yourself to buy anything from the list of wants until you’ve purchased everything on the list of needs.

Track Your Funds

Make sure you’re paying attention to what you’re spending with each trip to the store. You should only be looking at your labor budget, materials budgets, and that extra 15%. Every single time you make a purchase, subtract the amount from the total for the category it falls into. This will give you a visual way to track exactly what you’re spending and what you have left.

Don’t let the home improvement stores suck you in, either. The fact that an item is on sale or looks really cool does not make it a part of your plan. Don’t make major changes to your agenda after you’ve started working, either. Deciding you want to relocate your sink mid-project will cost you more, and that’s not what your 15% is for. That money is for changes in costs or the discovery of an emergency situation like mold or termites. Ick!

The more careful you are about creating your budget and understanding your project, the easier it will be to complete your project when it’s time to get to work. Search the web for some budget worksheets and start planning – every single detail. And if you don’t have enough for what you really need or want, you’ll know you need to hold off to save some more!