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Published On: Wed, Nov 29th, 2017

Over the Top: What to Do When Home Repairs Go Over Budget

Studies show that much of the time when tackling remodeling and repairs, homeowners fail to stay within budget. The problem is sometimes what starts as a simple project gets much more complicated as you discover new issues.

photo/ Steve Buissinne

So what do you do when those home repairs get out of control and costs start to rise.

Do One Thing at a Time

Before you even start your home repair project, determine to do one thing at a time. Finish one project before you start another. This will prevent you from having more than one area in your home torn up if you do run into issues.

Determine to do the big things first. Replace cabinets before you replace knobs and hardware. Repair structural damage in walls before you replace flooring or trim pieces. While it seems like this should be a logical step, it is easy to get caught up in the small things before the larger ones are complete.

If you have set a budget ahead of time, make sure the budget is segmented for each item you need to complete. When you get close to your limit, either alter the budget to eliminate something else, or alter the project by eliminating later steps.

Function Before Beauty

Sometimes the most important thing is that your repairs work, and cosmetic touches and beautification can be added later on. For instance, if you are doing a bathroom repair, you may have to reuse old fixtures or use less expensive ones to stay in budget, and replace or upgrade them later depending on future funds.

While it is nice to complete a repair or remodel all the way through, and get everything exactly how you want it, often you need to simply do the most important things first. Function is more important than beauty, and the little touches can wait if need be.

Depending on how far off the budget you are, you may even have to look at other options as well, like eliminating certain non-essential functions or getting by without some things for a short period of time.

Borrow and Beg

Unfortunately, some projects are not the type that you can put off finishing. You can’t put off a roofing project, so you might have to get roof replacement loans. You can’t put off some plumbing projects, so you might have to make them a priority, even if you can’t complete them exactly the way you want.

Taking a commercial loan or borrowing from family is not ideal, but you can make it work, and sometimes you just have to because a project won’t wait. Even if you have to beg a loan from family, you may need to to keep your home in good shape, and well enough to sell.

Do It Yourself

Sometimes the best way to save money on a project is to do it yourself. Sometimes hiring a professional is out of reach, and you just can’t manage it financially. But if you are handy around the house, have some basic skills and tools, you can tackle these projects on your own.

Of course, you need to educate yourself. You can’t do many of these projects on your own, and you will need some tools and skills you may not have. However, a simple internet search can offer you instructional videos and help forums that will walk you through many processes.

The areas to handle carefully are plumbing and electrical. Errors in both can result in catastrophic results. Electrical done wrong can result in the loss of your home. Plumbing done wrong can result in structural damage and significant costs in the long run.

If you don’t know what you are doing in either of these areas, and do not have the tools, you should consider hiring a professional or getting help from someone who knows. Make sure that these things especially are done properly and meet local building codes and standards.

When to Press Hold

If your project gets too far off the rails, or looks like it may go even more over budget than you can possibly afford, it might be time to press hold, and save the project until later.

The time to do this is as early in the project as possible. You don’t want to leave rooms torn up and things undone for extended periods of time. If a project is going to be more than you can handle, stopping sooner rather than later is best.

However, if you get to a point where a project is too overwhelming and you cannot borrow the money you need or raise it another way, you may have to halt the project until you can, no matter how inconvenient it might be.

The time to press hold is before work has gone too far, ideally, and before your budget limits have been reached. However, if you need to put a stop on the project, take a few key steps:

  • Finish up function if you can. Make things work to the minimum standard.
  • Close off the unfinished area if at all possible.
  • Set yourself up to start again. Make sure everything that can be done is, and whatever is next is set to go when you have the money.
  • Make a plan. If you have to stop and start over, make a plan about what that looks like, and make goals for when you will have the finances to do so.

Sometimes you have to put a project on hold, but you can do it in such a way that picking back up where you left off won’t be more difficult than it has to be.

You can stay within budget though. You simply have to set your budget, do one thing at a time, put function above beauty, and if you have to borrow money to complete projects. Do things yourself if you have to, and don’t be afraid to put things on hold until you can afford them.

That way you can stay in budget, and if you can’t, use these steps to correct your course.

Author: Gary Wilkinson

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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