Consumer Alert: Remodeling budgets

Posted: Updated:

Americans spent a record amount of money last year on renovating their homes, and surveys show that many spent even more than they originally planned.

Experts say that for a renovation without aggravation, the key could be planning ahead. 

“One big thing that people can do to avoid blowing their budget is to know what they want and stick to that,” Paul Hope, Consumer Reports’ home editor, said. “When we polled contractors separately, they told us the single biggest mistake they saw homeowners make was actually changing their minds in the middle of the remodel.”

Here are some other ways to avoid breaking a remodeling budget:

  • Check the contractor's credentials. Consumer Reports found one in five were not properly registered or insured.
  • Get it in writing. The contract should spell out the scope of work, itemized pricing and the specific time frame for completion.
  • If buying the project materials, shop around. Consumer Reports found that big box stores were not always best. 
  • Have realistic expectations.

Experts say that the bigger the project is, the more likely something will go wrong along the way.

“It’s very easy to go past schedule. Although I think people are starting to get the message that remodels take a while. And 60 percent of the people in our survey said their remodels didn’t take longer than they planned,” Hope said.

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