By Jeff Talmadge
I have been asked this question many, many times over 36 years in business. When I meet with someone who is interested in remodeling their home, we will talk about some of the things they want to do. People want to know what to expect and will often ask a question like this: “I won’t hold you to this, but can you give us a ballpark cost of what we are looking at?”
Well…if the project is relatively straightforward, like a kitchen or bath remodel, we can give a range of prices for similar projects. But most of the time, it’s a lot more complicated. There are usually other items that need to be done or that the client is interested in doing.
If it’s a kitchen or bath project, I can usually give a ballpark budget price based on recent, similar projects we have completed. I make sure to qualify that the ballpark budget price does not include appliances, permit fees, design fees and structural engineering that might be needed. That is about all I can do without a lot more information…and a lot more work.
Giving someone a ballpark budget for anything else more complex than a kitchen or bath is a no-win proposition for me. If I ballpark the project budget at a figure that is lower than the eventual cost of the project, and the homeowner signs up for services, I will be questioned about the number I gave them (even though they said they wouldn’t hold me to it!).
If I guess the cost of project budget that’s higher than the homeowner is expecting, I am usually shown the door so they can continue their search for someone who gives them a ballpark figure they like. Once they find that person, what happens next is a tale I hear far too often.
The homeowner signs up with the lower ballpark budget company and plans are drawn up by an architect or designer. The designer meets with the homeowner and draws up what is wanted without input from the contractor. The plans are completed, and the contractor figures the actual cost to be 50% more than the original ballpark budget. Everyone is unhappy and the homeowner faces a choice. They either spend more money than expected, they re-draw the plans and go through the process again, or they just abandon the project altogether.
Would you like to learn about a more efficient, effective, and pleasant way to remodel? If you answered yes, then please continue reading!
The Talmadge Approach
At Talmadge Construction, we have a different approach. Our way is to design a remodel project that is affordable to the homeowner and meets as many of the objectives as possible. We use a step-by-step process which begins with an initial consultation in the home. We discuss the project and what is important to the homeowner. We ask them to rank in importance each of the items we identify as a part of the project. We then talk about the budget!
It is typical that homeowners will think they can get more for their budget than the budget actually allows and it’s important to talk about this early in the process. If their budget is $200,000 and the list we established is going to be a lot more than $200,000, then we discuss which of the items we should include. This is where the ranking comes in. I may suggest we look at the top five items and not the bottom three.
Next, we enter into a Feasibility Agreement that pays us to do preliminary design work, write a scope of work and include a budget range of costs that falls within a 20% range of costs. If this scope and budget range is acceptable, we will then move to designing the full project.
We’re aiming to hit a home run with accurate figures rather than a guess that leads to a strikeout!