Thursday, January 19, 2012

Help Me Help You: The "B" Word Revisited

This is not the first time I've written about project budgets, nor will it be the last.  But as we stumble our way into 2012 facing more economic doubt I thought this was a good time to remind ourselves of a few things before we start chasing the almighty dollar into places we really shouldn't be going

One of the first serious questions I will ask a prospective client is “What budget have you put aside for your kitchen remodel?”  Let's be honest, talking about money is scary! (for the client at least).  Clients have told me after the fact they were afraid I would "spend to their budget" or I would think less of them that their budget wasn't sufficient ... that I would think they were poor.

A designer I've worked with over the years uses the automotive industry to illustrate the importance of the budget question:
"If I walked into a Porsche dealership and told the salesperson I had $25,000 for a new car, the salesperson would politely show me the door.  Why? Because he would have nothing to offer me.  
But if I took that same budget and walked into a Hyundai dealership, the salesperson would have several models to chose from, and may even have something suitable for less than my budget. 
Sometimes we want a Porsche, but can only afford a Hyundai. That's not a bad thing.  It's just a fact"
Once I know a client’s budget I can see if what they're shopping for can be achieved within that budget. I have often suggested a client needs to re-think their budget because their expectations cannot be met by their budget.  Sometimes the solution is substituting a less expensive material that achieves a similar effect.  Sometimes the answer is waiting until the budget is there.  Investing too little into a project is often worse than not investing anything at all.   But unless I know the budget I can't help. I can only guess.

Before you start visiting showrooms, have a good idea what your project budget is. It doesn’t need to be cast in stone. Even a range is fine ($40,000 to $50,000). If you really have no idea, think of it in terms of investment (i.e. how much you want to invest in your home). You can even ask friends or family who have done similar projects recently. The more information you can provide your designer, the happier you’ll both be in the long run.

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