Planning a kitchen or bath remodel? It's an exciting but daunting task. Properly budgeting and planning will help make it as stress-free as possible. But how do you actually form a workable budget for such a big project? Here are 8 steps to building the kitchen of your dreams without it becoming a total nightmare. 

Assess Your Finances

The first step in budgeting for any remodeling project is to understand what you can spend -- and what you can't spend. This means setting a rough estimated dollar limit as a base line for budgeting around. Remodeling can quickly get out of hand financially, so understanding your financial picture is essential in keeping things in check. This estimated budget doesn't need to be the final word, but it gives you a place from which to work.  

Understand the Breakdown

When doing research on costs in your area and talking with potential contractors, you need to understand how the various parts of your remodel will affect the total cost. Some experts note that the finished products (cabinetry, appliances, accessories, etc) will account for approximately 65-70% of your costs. That leaves 30-35% for installation and labor. This means that you can't spend all your money on expensive products and may need to scale back your expectations.

Set Priorities

Budgeting is an exercise in compromise. To be able to come to an agreement between your wish list and your wallet, you need to prioritize your desires. If necessary, make a literal list on paper counting from 1 to 10 and list the most important aspects of your remodel. If your budget starts to creep up, begin crossing items off the bottom of this list.  

Keep a Cushion

As already mentioned, remodels have a way of busting budgets very easily. Sometimes problems are discovered in demolition or reconstruction. Other times, finished goods prices have increased. Or owners simply change their minds as they see the work taking shape. Account for this by keeping a cushion of up to 20% in your budget for emergencies and alterations.  

Factor in Living Through It

Remodeling a kitchen or a bath can wreak havoc on a family's daily life. For this reason, include a line item in your budget for dining out more than normal. You may even need to stay somewhere else for a short period of time if work affects plumbing or electrical or involves major construction. Be realistic by including these costs in your budget.  

Look for DIY Areas

To save money, keep an eye out for ways you can do a little work yourself or purchase products on your own. Projects like demolition or painting may be something your family can do fairly easily over a weekend. You may also be able to pick up a few basic skills with a few lessons at a home improvement store or over the internet.  

Track Expenses

As you begin work, create a journal or spreadsheet to track the costs as you go. A budget is of little good if you don't compare it to actual expenses while you still have time to change things. Be sure to get full expense breakdowns from your contractor so you know what's been paid and what costs are still to come.  

Don't Deviate

Once you've prioritized, researched and selected a plan, try not to change your mind more than necessary. Costs will creep up, so don't make it worse by altering your design midway through or upgrading products too often. If you do decide to deviate from the plan, consult your priorities list to remove something unnecessary to stick to your budget.  

Talking with potential contractors or interior designers, like those at Betcher & Walker, can also help you get an estimate on the cost of your kitchen remodel. The planning and budgeting of your project may not be the most exciting part of your remodel, but it makes the entire enterprise work more smoothly and worry-free. So get started today!