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Sticker Shock

Every project begins with high hopes and anxious excitement. As the design is developed, homeowners begin to understand how their needs and desires fit together into a beautiful vision of what is possible.  Then comes the time for a contractor to price out the project and, seemingly inevitably, their estimate exceeds the assumptions held in the homeowners’ minds.

It’s at this point that frustration, panic, and depression typically settle in.  How did this happen?  Did you just waste valuable time and money for nothing?  Where do you go from here?  Is your dream destroyed?  We’re here to offer three steps for navigating through this shock and help you get on the path to a successful final project.

Step 1: Don’t Panic

First things first – breathe.  You’re not alone in this experience, nor are your dreams necessarily shattered and your project off the table. Instead of just focusing on the bottom line, take some time to review the details of the pricing proposal and understand which aspects of the project are driving most of the cost.

Step 2: Remember, It’s a Process

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is ruling out a contractor after one round of pricing without a follow up discussion.  The design and construction process is a multi-step, fluid process with endless questions and adjustments throughout.  If the initial pricing is more than you wish to spend, begin a dialog to understand why it is what it is and what can be done to bring the costs down.  Your architect can help guide this discussion and, as needed, serve as a translator between you and the builder.

Step 3: Be Realistic

I’ve come to believe that designing one’s home is like grocery shopping while hungry.  You may pile up your cart with every tasty treat you think of, but, when standing in line at the checkout, it’s best to set the goodies you don’t really need aside.  Honing in on your core requirements is critical to focusing your resources and, working with your builder and architect as a team, you can identify the most significant cost-drivers of the project and how to work around them while still getting the home you’ll love.