Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The "B" Word

“And what budget have you put aside for your kitchen remodel?”

Of all the questions I ask during the design process, the budget question elicits the most uncomfortable responses. It’s like asking someone how old they are … why would you need to know that? The big fear is that if you tell a salesperson how much you have, they’ll find a way to spend it all.

Let’s consider the budget question as it relates to buying a car. If you walked into a Porsche dealership with a $25,000 budget, the salesperson would politely suggest perhaps your expectations were unrealistic.

Take that same budget and walk into a Nissan dealership. This time, the salesperson will welcome you with open arms, but will also start asking you questions as to what you want from a car. If you said you wanted an inexpensive car to run errands with, you likely won’t be shown the luxury sedans. You might even be shown something that would only use $20,000 of your budget.

Knowing a client’s budget helps me steer them into appropriate materials and services, or even away from doing the project at all. I have often suggested a client needs to re-think their budget because their expectations cannot be met by their budget. Investing too little into a project is often worse than not investing anything at all.

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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