Design Vidal and Remodeling Tips

We were so excited to chat with Karen Vidal from Design Vidal again. This time we are discussing tips for staying on budget during remodeling.

LAMPS PLUS: A home remodel can easily become frustrating if you don't stay organized and on top of the budget. What are some tips for staying on budget during the renovation process?

KAREN VIDAL: There is a basic concept to remodeling that I feel most people are not aware of; the number that you get from a contractor is not the whole total. What this means is that the contractor is not the whole total. The contractor will do trades (plumbing, electrical, framing, etc.), but he will also do finish work (tile, hang light fixtures, install plumbing fixtures, etc.).

The trick is it's easy for the general contractor to assign budget numbers for labor and rough materials, but difficult for him to give numbers for lighting fixtures and appliances because there is a huge range and he might not have the same vision as the client. This is where budgets get out of control. The way I handle it is that I have everything chosen before the contractor starts. I know which sink, tub, faucet, tile, light fixture, flooring material, etc. that I am using.

LAMPS PLUS: How do you put together a more realistic budget allowing for the selection of your own fixtures?

KAREN VIDAL: I have a clear vision of my design. I provide my own numbers for all of what we call "allowances" (i.e. items that the client needs to supply the contractor) and combine that with the budget numbers from the general contractor. That way my client has a very clear understanding of the total money needed to achieve the desired renovation.

LAMPS PLUS: If the contractor's bid is too high, what are some tips for getting closer to your ideal price?

KAREN VIDAL: Scope of work drives budget. If the estimate for the work is too high, it's better to reduce the scope of work rather than compromise on materials or try to bid many contractors in the hope of finding someone who will say the number you want to hear - often that number will change as the job starts and things quickly get out of control. It's what we call a "bait and switch."