Ask for everything….BUT tag it with a budget.
When planning your dream renovation, I encourage you to strive for all that you envisioned, but at the same time, give your designer or contractor a budget to work with. They will be able to do a much better job for you, and will not hesitate to put more effort into your initial quote, if you have made some type of a verbal commitment towards your potential investment. Let’s say you were casually sauntering through a Mercedes dealership (or, for the even bigger dreamers, a Maserati dealer) and you ask the salesman some questions about the purchasing process and the steps involved in ordering yourself a new car….but at the same time, you totally ignore the cost of the vehicle in regards to what you intend to spend, you could likely end-up a very frustrated individual. If you do convince the salesman that you are serious, and if you are so fortunate as to arrange a test drive in one of those fine automobiles, and if the car’s price and/or your budget has still not surfaced, then the potential disappointment meter is rising into the red-danger zone. If a large gap in the budget is later discovered, either the commission-salesman would get upset about this obvious waste of his or her time, and/or, you will get very upset that your automobile ambitions have crashed… and burned. You may leave the dealership quite discouraged, possibly bringing your vehicle quest to an abrupt halt; thus ending your aspirations of driving the car of your dreams, possibly never to be revived again.
An extreme example? Maybe, but almost every one of us has, at one time or another, experienced a disappointment when we could not get what we thought we could, or at least, what we wished we could. A word of advice: keep those dreams of yours (and even dream bigger!), BUT make sure you tag that dream with a dollar amount that you are willing to part with in exchange for that lofty ideal. We need to set large goals, but a dream without a cost commitment, or an investment of effort, is just a wish. You may as well be tossing coins into a wishing-well, or wishing upon a falling star, or blowing out birthday candles. Next time you walk up to a fountain or a babbling brook below a bridge, look down closely into the water at the coins that well-wishers have tossed, hoping for some miracle to appear in their life. Most of the coins are pennies, and there are fewer nickels and dimes, and certainly fewer quarters, and almost certainly no 50-cent or one-dollar coins or larger. Maybe that is representative of what the average person is willing to part with, or invest, into their dreams for a better future. And you might be pleasantly surprised to find what your investment can conjure up when you use a good contractor!
Many of the home and design magazines have elaborate photos of often extreme high-end renovations….whether it’s kitchens, finished basements, or landscaping. Use all of these resources and dream large. Then, when you are sitting with a potential contractor to plan your renovation, big or small, bring all of your ideas and don’t hold back on your grand aspirations. But make sure to volunteer a budget figure, even if it’s approximate. Let the contractor know if this is flexible or a definite maximum. The designer or contractor will know how to apply your wish list to your home and family size, and your budget. And you will soon have some proposals and ideas that both meet your budget and your design expectations. Happy renovating!