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Keeping your renovation on budget and on track – Part 1

July 3, 2019

Renovations – Why most projects go over budget by 50%. Part 1

Written by: Cassandra Nordell 

Did you know that over 30% of Canadian kitchen renovation projects exceed their budget by more than 50%? The first issue is that most people do not know where to begin when it comes to how much to invest into their home.

How much does a kitchen or bathroom cost?

There is no real way to determine this without going through an extensive design and selections process. However, The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) states that kitchen renovation projects typically cost between 10-25% of the value of your home. Bathrooms are between 5-15%.

Clients often react with shock, to the percentages set out on how much their renovation should cost. They may have heard from a friend or colleague that their project only cost $15,000, for example. People tend to focus on a lower number when explaining their costs. When you ask them to break it down, it usually results in them admitting that was the cost of only one part, such as the cabinetry. An entire gut-job should fall within the percentages set out by the NKBA. If you have obtained a project quote and it is not within these percentages, you may not be considering all factors and can incur charges along the way, resulting in surprises and going over budget.

It is important not to undervalue the investment that you make in your home. Projects coming in below these recommended ranges are usually piece projects, or are undervalued for the home, which can actually hinder the sale of your home, causing you to lose money.

Where to Start—> Manage the budget before making ANY purchases.

Many people start their project by looking for appliances, cabinetry and countertops, and usually give a 50% down payment before sorting out all of the other details that go hand-in-hand with a renovation. This is a very costly mistake. The truth is, you will encounter a lot of sales representatives trying to sell you products such as cabinets, appliances, countertops or flooring before you spend the right amount of time working with a professional team getting all of your numbers in order.

The most common mistake that I encounter if a client has begun their renovation journey on their own before consulting with my professional team is purchasing appliances or fixtures before they have a complete budget and design.

There are 2 issues that arise from this mistake

  1. a) the items may not fit in the budget
  2. b) they may not work with the best design for your space causing the space to be designed around the appliance, which is backwards.

Other budget considerations:

Don’t get overwhelmed.

Many factors make up a successful kitchen or bathroom project and jumping into it can be scary. It will most certainly end up costing you more than you expected in the end, but planning ahead is key.

Renovation Budget Tips:

  1. Do not buy any items for your project, no matter how tempting the sale, before you have your budget set out, and a completed design.
  2. Focus on numbers first, then functionality requirements, then product.
  3. Do not max out your budget in case unknowns arise during the renovation.

Keep in mind that in order to eliminate the build-up of costs during your kitchen or bath renovation, there is one fundamental thing you need to consider:


This should always be the first step. When you hire a professional designer, every detail of your project will be accounted for and specified ahead of time. A designer is not a sales representative and is there to help you make informed decisions. They are your design and renovation ambassador and will help to fend off those sales representatives that may pressure you into a product before your budget and plan are in place.

HINT: There is a big difference between a cabinet layout and a design. Just as there is a difference between a design consultant and a qualified kitchen and bath designer.