How Interior Design Budgets Spiral Out of Control

How Interior Design Budgets Spiral Out of Control

Photo by Josh Appel

Knowing if you're working with a guesstimate, estimate, or budget, and making design decisions accordingly, can be the difference between a budget you can predict and one that spirals out of control.

Let's look at an example:

  • Guesstimate: Your contractor says, "I think you'll spend about $900 on your backsplash."
  • Estimate: You show a backsplash tile that you like to your contractor, and he says, "It'll cost about $12 per square foot in labor and materials, and you've got about 100 square feet here. So, I estimate it'll cost $1,200."
  • Budget: You've completed your design plan and picked your tile.
    • You know that your backsplash is 91 square feet.
    • Your tile showroom recommends you purchase 15% extra to cover installation waste. You need 105 square feet of backsplash tile (91 plus 15%).
    • Your tile sells for $5.60 per square foot. Shipping is free if you pick the tile up at the showroom, and you're happy to do that. Sales tax is 9%.
    • Your material cost is $641. (105 square feet at $5.60 per square foot plus 9% sales tax.)
    • You have given your design plan and materials list to your contractor, and he has given you a bid of $630 to install the backsplash. His bid specifies that building materials, grout, and mortar are included.
    • Your budget for the backsplash is $1,271. ($641 for materials and sales tax plus $630 for labor.)

If you accepted the $900 backsplash guesstimate, you would be disappointed, maybe even angry, when you realized it was going to cost 41% more to get the tile you really want.

It's not the contractor's fault, he made his best guess not knowing what the exact tile would be and not knowing the exact size of the backsplash.

Imagine those kinds of overages running across your whole project. That's how remodeling budgets spiral out of control.

She didn't know it, but Jackie Lopey's days as an advertising executive were numbered when she bought and renovated a 1950's bungalow. She soon went back to school and started her own design studio. Jackie is an award-winning, certified interior designer and the founder of Wide Canvas.

Connect with Jackie by emailing

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