So, we're way over budget. I knew we would be and planned for it. We blew out that plan to. It's not the end of the world, but in a different environment, it could be.
So, I'm going over every deviation from budget that I can think of and determine if it was worth it or not. If it was utterly unavoidable, it was worth it. With some luck, this will give others an idea of how things go and how to plan their budgets and back-up plans accordingly.
So, here are the over-budget items that I can round up.
Roof: $1000 over budget, primarily for box gutter work. Unavoidable. We did get a great deal on a metal roof, however. Thousands cheaper than expected. Still over budget, but a bright spot.
Drainage: $500 over budget. Clogged drain dumping 2000 gallons of roof water into the basement. Unavoidable.
Demo: $300 over budget. Extra dumpster. Unavoidable.
Chimney removal: $200 over budget. Unplanned, but worth it.
Two months extra rent and utilities: $2100. Due to delays in demo and finding a roofer and getting the roof on. Avoidable. I should have been on the roofer issue much sooner and much harder. The same with Demo.
Financing Charges: $500 (estimated). Many expenses were floated on credit cards or on account for various periods over the 13 months of work. Partially Avoidable, but not entirely.
Mortgage: $2500. This wasn't forgotten about, but it ended up being paid out of the reno budget without a line. This doesn't include the 2 month overage accounted for above. It would have been worse, but for several months we were only paying for the purchase price due to using city money. Unavoidable, but make this a hard line item on the budget with a contingency for delays.
Fence: $300 over budget. Avoidable, but perhaps worth it for a better looking fence.
Stair case widening: $800. So VERY, VERY worth it. It made the 3rd floor usable.
Doors: $600 over. Partially unavoidable. Still, it would have been nice to find an old door or to have built one ourselves to save $300, net. If you have a non standard (say 34") door to replace, start looking at the reclamation centers or start building one right away.
Lumber: $1500 estimated over. Partially unavoidable, but we could could have gotten as much or more stiffening of the joists with cross braces and blocking, all for a couple hundred less. We used almost every bit of 2x4.
Tools: Total Estimated $685 over budget. Extra ladder $60, hammer drill $100, new drill $45, saw blades and drill bits $125, Jigsaw $30, extra nails and screws $75, router $100, router bits $80, tape measures $20 (don't ask), miscellaneous tool stuff $50. Mostly Unavoidable.
HVAC: $4000. We knew we were low-balling the HVAC estimate in our budget. Part of that $4k is utterly unavoidable. The jury is still out on whether it was worth it. We'll have to see the utility bills. I suspect it will be, but that's still uncertain. Probably worth it.
Insulation: $1900. I budgetted $4000 for DIY TigerFoam, and I'm pretty sure I was "light" by at least $1000, assuming no mistakes in application. I got got more foam, all the labor and all the risk taken by Priority One. Totally worth it. I'm not at all certain that I wouldn't have gone that much over budget doing it myself.
Transoms: $150 off budget. I didn't budget for these at all, but for the money, we got two double-paned low-e, argon-filled transoms, that are way efficient and that look better than any alternative. Totally worth it and maybe unavoidable.
WallBoard: $400 over budget. I could have gotten it for less, but this got it to the site, fast, and right where it needed to be when it needed to be there. Plus I under estimated mud and corner bead by a bit. Not too far off and unavoidable.
Drywaller: $2600 over budget. That's just my fault. I didn't do proper research and misjudged the cost of a drywall job of this magnitude and complexity. I took the low bid and got a great guy but I was still way, WAY off. Unavoidable, but let that be a lesson. My one and only budget screw up cost the most.
Bulbs: $150 off budget. I never thought about it. We got them cheap but we've got a blue million can lights, including some smaller sexy ones that take more expensive bulbs. It's not a ton of money, but it's another $100+ number over budget.
Exterior Lighting: $260 off budget. That was for motion detectors and wall lighting, plus some expensive bulbs. I totally forgot about this necessary expense. Partially Unavoidable, but I could have used cheaper fixtures. I just didn't want to look at them for the next 10 years.
Carpet: $2000 over budget. I had $5000 down in the Bank's estimate, but I figured we'd get it in for $3k. Nope. Due to the rush, we spent $5,000 on the dim. I'm happy with it, and I like the install, and the bottom line is that we had to get it in fast.
Windows: $500 over budget. This includes replacing a pane at the bottom of the stairs with tempered glass and putting in some hopper windows. I had hoped to re-work the windows myself and put in some nice wood ones in front, but time precluded that, so I just put in all new vinyls. I don't love them, but they're warm and efficient. Also, they came in almost $1,000 less than the bank estimate. Just more than mine. Unavoidable in the real world.
Tiling expense: $0. I was going to note $75 overage on grout and mastic that I didn't expect. Then I looked at our budget. We're net $1000 under bank budget, including an unbudgeted tub surround and almost $100 under my lowest DIY estimate. I'll shut up about that.
Floor refinishing: $200 over "budget". This was for labor and materials but considering that we did this ourselves and only pulled in help to prep and clean up, and that the bank budget was $1500 more, I have to say, "Worth it".
Theft: $240 off Budget. We lost and had to replace two sawzalls one cheap and one very used and old, two sets of work lights, and one compressor. Unavoidable. Plan for it. I did not includ the 50 or so CD's and player that were stolen off site.
Gasoline: at least $375 off Budget. I just stopped yesterday and thought, "How many trips to Home Depot, alone, have we made?" Many of them in the Denali, and many at $4 gas. I have a pretty tight estimate on that, but then there are all the little stop and go trips that we never used to take, including from home to site every day, runs to grab lunch, hit the small hardware store. Most of those with a cold engine and rotten fuel efficiency. Unavoidable, but we should have planned for it.
Re-financing: $1000 off budget. This is only partially forseeable. I didn't account for the rate lock we did, but that came out of the reno-cash. So did some closing costs. None were crazy. But they were off budget. We'll be doing another re-fi too but that's money not yet spent. Unavoidable.
Total over budget:
That is above contingencies and doesn't include some things that we just forgot about or can't easily quantify (e.g. how many Monster drinks did we buy the drywallers? How many lunches, sodas, waters, and bags of ice did we buy for contractors?). It's not an insignificant amount, though it can get folded back into the proper cost of the house during the next refinancing and fortunately, it won't alter the end result for us due to lower rates.
Still, this ought to be very instructive. It's easy to go WAY over budget. Little things add up, but so do big things. Try to plan down to the last nail. I thought it was trivial but it's really not. Where we did that (the kitchen), we actually came in UNDER budget. Don't forget the "cost of carry" and other financing expenses. They're slowly bleeding you on one of these projects and they're easy to over look. Plan on a few thousand dollars worth of "emergency" purchases. You're going to have them, including hiring labor to help get a project done on time, or buying a tool to save you days of work.
Another tip is to keep a separate account for project expenses and do not co-mingle ordinary and reno expenses. If it's not on the budget, it shouldn't come out of that account. That way, when you start going over budget you can readily see how far off you are and make what corrections you can. Keep a running tally of credit card expenses. It's bet to start with a "clean" card to facilitate this and it's best to only put reno expenses on it. If you don't have a great rate on the card, pay it off as soon as is practical. By using the card only for reno expenses, you can quickly see where you stand. You should have a spread sheet set up with your budget anyway, and as you spend on a project, you should add those expenses up and compare to the budget. It's time consuming, and it will likely fall by the way side if you get under the gun, but if you can do it, it'll help you stay on track.
One last tip that I think makes some sense is to set up an account or debit card with some splurge or "off-budget" money. You should stay on budget and not waste precious resources, sure, but you don't want the renovation project to be a joyless exercise in sharpening the pencil and crunching the numbers. You should make sure that you can buy those things that will really give you some pleasure or that really make the renovation work elegantly.