Any good contractor is going to work their best to stick close to the estimate they provided you for your project. But keep in mind that it is an estimate, not the final bill. Although the goal is to provide what you want within your budget, there are a few things that will cause your project to go over budget. Here are a few causes.
Fixing unforeseen problems. When we provide an estimate, we can only provide an estimate on what we see. It is difficult to anticipate problems that are hidden under flooring, inside of a wall, or any other hidden area. Here are just a few examples:
- When we take out kitchen cabinets, we do not know the condition of the wall behind the cabinets. We had a situation where after pulling out the cabinets, we found that there was a lot of black mold that grew over the years between the cabinets and the wall. This was not anticipated, so we had to issue a change order to get a specialist to address the mold issue.
- If we open up a wall that has a water pipe inside and see that the pipe is corroded, we would recommend changing the pipe to eliminate a future flood.
- When replacing carpet with LVP flooring, we do not know if the floor is level or not with the carpet still in place. It’s possible that we would need to use a self level compound to level out the flooring in order to install the LVP flooring.
Changing the plan in the middle of the project.
There are times that after the start of a project that the homeowner will have another idea that is different from the original plan. This certainly isn’t an issue as long as the change of scope comes out sooner rather than later. Depending on the change and at which point of the project the change was made, there very well could be an added cost in labor and material.
Unexpected changes required by the city.
If your project requires a permit and inspections, do your due diligence on what fees the city will charge. Depending on the size of the project, your project could require multiple inspections with the city which will be an additional cost.
Here are a few ideas to help protect you from going over budget:
- Keep about 5 - 10% of your budget set aside for possible change orders. If you don’t need it, that is great! You can either save the money or add something to the scope.
- Don’t choose the contractor with the lowest estimate. There are some contractors out there who will provide a low estimate in order to get the job. But as the job progresses, they will kill your budget with change orders. Stay away from the lowest bidder!
- Do your research on material. If you know there are certain materials that you want for your project, price them out to help plan your budget. Some contractors may even allow you to purchase the material for the project. The benefit of this is that the contractor won’t charge you for pick up and delivery, which helps the budget. However if you do purchase your material, be sure to get on the same page with your contractor so that you know when the material is needed. The last thing you want is for the contractor to wait for the material to be delivered. This will delay the project and may cost you money.
- For projects with permits, a call with the city inspector’s office to go over the scope of work would help you budget the right amount of money for permits and inspections.
You cannot completely avoid change orders during a project. Especially if you are opening walls and ripping up flooring. But if you prepare yourself, the change orders may not break your budget.
If you’re looking for an affordable contractor in the Houston, Texas or Tacoma, Washington area who will not kill you with unnecessary change orders, we are your team! Fill out the contact form so that we can get in touch with you and talk about your project!