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How to establish a realistic renovation budget?

Last modified: 2021-11-03 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Embarking on a renovation project cannot be done without establishing a realistic budget before starting the work. Since few people have an unlimited budget to get their house up to date, it is important to get an idea of the costs involved in this refurbishment.

The following article is an overview of the current methods used to estimate the total cost of a renovation project, as well as some important guidelines for establishing a realistic budget.

As an introduction, there are two methods to estimate the price you will have to pay to renovate the room of your choice. The first of these is the square foot method, while the second is the full cost method.

Calculer budget renovation

Current methods for establishing a renovation budget

The square foot calculation method: insufficient in itself

This method consists of converting the number of square feet (and therefore the total area of the room) to the cost of the material you will be using for your renovation. Essentially, this method will give a pricing per square foot.

However, some experts have reservations about this method for very obvious reasons. This is because as the number of square feet increases, the cost of materials will in turn decrease. With this method, it is difficult to know if the amount calculated is realistic concerning the scale of the task itself.

It seems this method may be insufficient but is nevertheless useful to obtain an approximation of the costs generated by the project. Indeed, this leaves little room for considering the particulars of each renovation project, as unexpected events may occur along the way.

The full-cost budget calculation method

The full-cost method takes into account the different professional trades which will be necessary for the realization of your home renovation project as well as the materials needed (taking into account the materials as a part of the work). To accurately establish the total cost of the renovation project, it is necessary to do business with a professional estimator.

Entrepreneur en rénovation_Soumission Rénovation

Only a qualified cost estimation expert relative to residential renovation projects will be able to consider all the ramifications of the project to establish a realistic budget. Whether it’s replacing the plumbing, changing the windows or refitting your bathtub, you will have to integrate the cost of the work into your budget. This way, your budget will be well in line with reality.

Beware of unforeseen disturbances to your home renovation budget

Although you can come up with a budget that seems to be as close as possible to the final amount, it is nevertheless imperative to have a surplus budget to avoid becoming stranded by unexpected expenses.

To compensate for this inconvenience, plan for an amount of about 15% of the total sum of your renovation project.

Some tips to put into practice to have a realistic renovation budget

1- Require a timeline that will track the expenditures incurred in completing each stage of the project to ensure rigorous tracking of how your budget is being distributed.

2- Allow an initial amount for the dismantling of the areas to be renovated to take stock of the conditions you’re working within. You will then be able to establish a budget to continue your project as planned, or instead a budget to get the structure into proper shape.

3- Before starting work, make sure that the contractor is specific about the materials that will be used during the project. You will need to know the precise costs of all materials used, rather than accepting uncertainty and winding up with luxurious materials that greatly cost you. Further, if you aren’t aware of what your contractor is using, you may be disappointed with the quality of the materials used and will therefore not be satisfied with the final result.

4- While it may be tempting to compare your project with that of a friend or family member to get a sense of what yours will cost, avoid doing so. There are far too many parameters to include in the calculation of your budget to estimate from a simple glance. Differences in prices for selected materials or the condition of the premises that you are renovating will likely distort your analysis.

Limit your budget by doing work yourself

Although it is possible to do some of the renovation work yourself, including attaching joints, painting or finishings, you should make sure that you do not overestimate your skills as a renovator. In this regard, remember that if you do wrong in carrying out some of the work and it does not meet a certain standard, you will cause problems that will cost extra to be adequately corrected. Not only will you lose time and money, but you may also regret all of the stress and worry caused by the unpleasant DIY situation.

Cost estimator for different renovation projects

Calculatrice budget rénovation has worked with contractors in our network to set up cost calculators for various renovation projects. Click here to access these tools which help you get a general idea of the amount you will have to pay. Here are the currently available categories:

The different methods What you need to know
The square foot calculation method
  • multiplies the cost of materials by the number of square feet of the room to be renovated
  • is insufficient in itself
  • does not take into account the specifics of the project and the unforeseen events
The full-cost budget calculation method
  • takes into account all the trades involved and the cost of the different materials used
  • requires a professional estimator

A few tips do-follow

  • provide an amount equivalent to 15% of the cost of the work to compensate for unforeseen events
  • ask for a timeline setting out the expenses incurred at each stage
  • provide a budget for the dismantling of the structure (you can then adjust the budget at the start of the work if it's damaged)
  • get accurate information about the materials used
  • do not estimate the costs of your project based on those generated by that of a loved one


Get 3 renovation quotes for your home renovation project can help you get quotes for your home renovation project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals. 

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