The Budgeting Process – Step 1: Define who you are

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One of the most mysterious processes in a kitchen or bath project is learning how to develop a budget that is realistic, based on your wants and needs.  With reality show producers throwing money at their projects and consumers believing that the professionals are out to rob them, it’s no wonder that the process is confusing.  It will take a few posts to cover this subject.  Stick with me because it will be worth it!

The very first step in the budget process is to realistically determine which type of consumer you are.  As clarity may elude you initially, you will be much more content as your project progresses if you define which type of consumer you are so that you do not waste time and effort going down roads that dead-end.

In the real world, funds are usually limited and everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck.  Look at yourself based on the descriptions below and see where you truly fit best and adjust your expectations accordingly. There is no right or best category; each has pros and cons.  Knowing the definitions of these categories puts you more in control of the “nosy neighbor syndrome”.  This is when someone you know says, “Well why didn’t you……… ?”  You can respond that you did consider that option and discovered it wasn’t right for you.

Decide which type of consumer you are:

DIY (Do it yourself) – You have the necessary skills to design and complete the project or have the time and inclination to learn all skills involved and you are willing to accept the risks and results.  You will design your project, buy the materials and furnish most if not all the labor.  In total cash outlay, you will probably save about 35-45% of the cost of hiring a professional contractor.  You must be comfortable living amidst an ongoing project under construction a little longer although I have seen many a “pro” take longer than anticipated.  If you organize the project like a pro, you will do fine.  I will provide much more on project organization later, but the first step is the same as a noted in the previous posts at and

BYOC (Be your own contractor) – You are not equipped to design or provide the labor on your project, but you are fully capable and willing to be your own project manager. You will make all other decisions and purchase all products (with or without professional guidance).  You will solicit and manage the various trade laborers needed to complete your project.  You will probably save about 25-35% of the cost of hiring a professional contractor.  You still need to organize the project and manage it like a DIY.

HAP (Hire a professional contractor) – Selecting a professional firm or individual to be responsible for the entire project is a very personal decision; you are going to be “living” together for quite some time.  Research and interview several.  Just because your neighbor or family member chose someone does not mean their choice would be a good fit for you.  All professionals have strengths and weaknesses so find out all you can.  Inquire about the size and scope of their previous projects and check out the references provided.   Be clear about your expectations and assess if they can realistically be met.  Ask open-ended questions and assess the responses. You will pay what I call “regular price” for this professional service and you should expect the project to run accordingly.  The pro will expect you to inform him of all product choices.  Typically, he does not help you shop or help make these decisions.  You will prepare the space for the project by moving out everything you can.  Once the project is completed, you will move everything back in.  You will probably provide the final cleaning unless your contract states otherwise.

INAHICG (I need all the help I can get) – You need assistance all the way ~ including design, where to go to see and select all products, product selection, move out & in labor, installation of all products and final cleaning.  This project requires a great time commitment from the professional so you may spend up to 25% more than the cost of hiring a professional contractor.

In Step 2 of the budgeting process, we will discuss talk about the money …


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