Healing Blog

| posted by TransformHeal

Whether your project is repainting a bathroom, buying furniture for your living room, or building a new house, setting boundaries and budgets is essential to reducing the stress of any task. Don’t fall into the Money Pit!

Boundaries and budgets for home projects create expectation and structure. These two components will help to minimize uncomfortable moments between you and your designers, contractors and spouse. Contractors can easily go over stated budgets. Your designer will usually find “the perfect fabric/furniture” that costs more than you had planned. Am I speaking from experience? Yes. My ex-husband was a contractor, and I spent way too much money on paint, furniture, rugs, paintings and fabric for my large home. I won’t give you the dollar amount – but I am sure that my ex could tell you what it was down to the penny! Many an argument took place about my ability to stay on budget, and many nights I sat and listened to my ex complain about subs, clients, time frames, change orders and other problems that occur on construction jobs. So, although I am not an architect, interior designer or contractor, I have been a client and the wife of a builder. I learned some tough lessons about boundaries and budgets that I’d like to share with you.

Boundaries can provide an environment where expectations are known and met. They include rules, expectations, budgets, and learning to say “No” so you can enjoy any project. Boundaries provide an opportunity for communication and compromise with your partner. They prevent unexpected surprises of expenses you can’t afford. Boundaries and budgets also make it easier to say “No” to the people you hire, because they understand the parameters of the job up front.

Interview anyone you plan to hire. Call their references. Understand how their business model works and what type of clientele they attract. If yours is a big job, don’t hire someone whose niche is being a handy man. On the other hand, if you like cozy and simple, a designer who loves glitz and glamour is not the person to hire.

Creating a budget with your partner is a daunting endeavor. You will inevitably have different definitions of wants versus needs. There are different levels of quality for each item. If you can get through the budget process with your spouse without throwing anything at each other, you are doing a fabulous job. You can always ask the people you hire to give you an “a la carte” estimate from which to choose. When you have a final budget, deduct 10%; this is the number you give to the people you hire. This number allows for a buffer in costs, changes and mistakes.

Want Versus Need
There is a cost difference in the quality of every item necessary to perform any job. Now that you have a budget in mind, be aware that there are places where you can save money to allow for upping the quality in other areas. Separating your needs from wants will help you decide how to parcel out your budget and de-stress the process. For example, if you are renovating your kitchen, you will need paint, appliances, cabinets, and counter tops. You can save money on paint by choosing Behr from Home Depot ($35/gallon) over Sherwin-Williams ($35-$70/gallon). You need cabinets, but you can choose from Merillat or have them custom-made. You can use the knobs that come with the cabinets or spend $60/knob for some extra pizazz. Ask yourself, “Do I really need $60 knobs?” Appliances can range from Kenmore to Miele. You might not cook, but you might have a pet peeve about loud dishwashers. In that case, it would make sense to go with the lower-end range and spend more on a quiet dishwasher.

Boundaries & Timing
Contractors are rarely on time. Projects frequently take longer than expected. How can you help everyone along? Don’t choose special order items. They usually have long lead times. Include a penalty in your contract if your job is not done on time. This penalty can be an effective way to light a fire under any contractor or subcontractor.

Boundaries & Learning to Just Say No
If the timing of this project is important to you, then make sure you say “No” to special order items. If staying on budget is important, say “No” to yourself every time you want to request “just a small change.” Remember that those small changes add up in your pocketbook and can delay the project.

What happens when you like what you initially choose, but after it’s installed, you hate it? Well, a budget is a budget, and boundaries are boundaries. I learned the hard way that I stink at choosing combinations of paint and carpet. I was so excited to arrive at the house only to find pink walls and brown carpet – yuck. I didn’t notice the red undertones in the paint chip. From the small swatch, I couldn’t tell that the carpet would end up a deeper brown once in the room. When I asked my husband if we had more money to change out either the paint or carpet, he stuck to his “No,” and I had to live with this combination for five long years. Note to self: In the future, Cindy needs to hire an interior designer.

You can de-stress any project, small or large, by creating boundaries and a budget for you, your partner, contractor, painter, designer, builder, or architect. Examine your wants versus your needs. Use your “No” liberally. Hire the personnel you need (so you don’t have to live with pink walls and brown carpet) to make sure your end product is one you love and will enjoy for years to come.

Cindy Battino


Good sound advice. I like the need versus want separation. It makes the decision process more focused. Great article!

J Kelly
10 3 2013 Thu
Contribute with a Response
500 characters

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, October 10, 2013 at 16:13 pm and is
filed under Healing Blog
You can follow any responses to this entry
through the RSS 2.0 feed.