Stay Disciplined to Your Rehab Budget

Renovation Budget Tips
Stay committed to your numbers for the things in your control.

Have you ever watched those design shows and fallen in love with the trendy tile or amazing countertops? But then looked at your own home improvement budget and realized there is little "reality" in that reality TV show for your home? Don't throw your money management skills out the window on your investment properties. Keep this same mentality when rehabbing a property. Here is an instance where I nearly went off course, but am so glad I didn't.


The kitchen in this unit was quite small. My budget for countertops was 30 ft.² of material at $40 per square foot installed for a total budget of $1200. When I got the plans back from the designer my countertop measurement was only 22 ft.² so I was really excited that my budget for countertops was enough. I went to the fabricator to look at granite, but the pretty white quartz countertops caught my eye. We looked at remnant slabs and I knew that it would be perfect with the cabinets in that small kitchen. They would really make it a showstopper.

The fabricator sent me an estimate for the quartz remnant at almost $70 per square foot installed. I told myself “oh but it’s not that much over budget and I only need 22 ft.² instead of 30 ft.². It’s only a few hundred dollars over budget."

I thought about it for a couple of days, visited a second showroom and found charcoal gray granite for $39.99 per square foot installed. I thought it would look just as good as the more expensive one and decided to use the less expensive granite. I could have gone with the higher priced quartz countertop and still been close to my budget. However, because I stayed disciplined, I ended up coming under budget by more than $300, rather than over budget by more than $300.  This allowed me to create breathing room in my budget so when the new air conditioner unit also needed a new coil, I already had the money available in my budget because I didn’t get lured by those pretty quartz countertops.

Key Take Away

When you are shopping for finishes be wary of those pretty, yet expensive items. They will glitter and shine and try to convince you to spend more than your budget. Stay committed to your numbers for the things in your control. When you have the choice of finishes don't get carried away. There will be times in your project where you are not in control of the cost. There will be times when your estimate is completely off or the unexpected happens. It is for these times you want to have stayed disciplined when you had the choice so budget overruns are easier to absorb.

Carissa Swanwick