How to Prioritize Your Home Renovation on a Budget

open concept kitchen and living room floor plans after the redesign

Are you undertaking a home renovation on a budget?

If you don’t have the time, patience, or budget to renovate your entire home – but it needs it – I always recommend completing individual rooms first, rather than piecing the project together by grouping specific types of work (like plumbing first, then electrical, etc.).


You won’t save money, and you will just create a headache for everyone involved. Read below to learn why.

You can be displaced for weeks to months

Napa and Sonoma Interior Design kitchen remodel and home renovation on a budget

If you will be living in your home while the work is getting done, it is vital to maintain some functional and private areas of your home that you can use and retreat to while workers are in your space.

This means having at least one functional bathroom, one usable bedroom, one accessible sitting area. (For kitchens, this is harder to do, so I always tell my clients to expect to make some adjustments to their mealtime routines.)

If ALL of the bathrooms in your home are demolished at once, just so that you can get the plumbing done at once, and then the tiling, etc., you will most likely need to stay in another location until one of your bathrooms is back up and running.

Scheduling subcontractors is a full-time job

Napa and Sonoma Interior Design kitchen remodel

A renovation project has a clear order-of-operations, and renovation projects are a game of scheduling. Most work is dependent upon other work getting completed first, like pieces to a puzzle.

Your painter may be available one day but not the next, and maybe they can’t start their prep work until the floor tiles are set, but the floor tile installer can’t start their prep work until the plumbing fixtures are roughed-in, but the plumber has to wait until the framers complete framing the wall, and then the plumber also can’t install the toilet until the floor tiles are set, so they will have to come back anyway. 

You get the picture! 

In most residential construction firms, there are dedicated Project Managers whose job it is to schedule all of the members of a project, from electricians, plumbers, tile installers, painters, cabinet makers, flooring installers, etc., to ensure that the project moves forward smoothly and there are no gaps in work.

It is unlikely that a homeowner will be able to efficiently schedule their subcontractors to come in and complete their assigned duties one right after the other. 

So, even if you think you are being savvy by doing ALL of the electrical first, and then ALL of the plumbing, etc., chances are that you will run into scheduling conflicts and delays. 

A home renovation on a budget will still be over budget

Renovation projects are notorious for going over budget. I always set up my clients for success from the beginning by over-estimating costs. It’s the simplest way to avoid running out of money before the job is complete. 

If your contractor estimates $250 per square foot for your kitchen renovation, bump it up to $300 per square foot. If that amount is out of your budget, then reevaluate your plans. Maybe opt for mid-range appliances, lower-cost countertops or tile backsplash less complicated to install, or rethink your lighting selections. 

Going into debt, living in a half-renovated home for a year, or letting the finishing touches go unfinished, signals to me that there was poor planning and poor management of expectations. If you have a reasonable expectation on costs from the very start, this can easily be avoided. 

How should you prioritize your home renovation on a budget?

As our featured Houzz article shows, homeowners are currently opting to stay put and renovate rather than purchase new homes. 

In summary, it’s best to focus on one room at a time in order to maximize the focus and keep the project moving forward, one subcontractor at a time, even if that means a sub has to return to your home multiple times.

It’s always a good idea to over-estimate, as material prices can increase suddenly and without warning, as we all have learned from working through the pandemic.

Did you know that Revelry Interior Design can handle all of the logistics of a home renovation on a budget for you? We are experienced in renovation project management, speaking with contractors and subcontractors, specifying finishes, plumbing, appliances, and renovation space planning. Reach out to us here to get started or simply to learn more.


Dana Feagles, Principal Interior Designer and Home Renovation Expert

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