The Hidden Costs of a Design Project - Managing your budget

You are smart. You are a good planner. You know how to put together a budget and you happily populate your excel sheet or google spreadsheet with the cost of your sofa, your rug, or your kitchen tile. And yet, your project has somehow gotten out from under you with the actual costs on your credit card exceeding - by an uncomfortable margin - those tidy numbers you planned for. What happened? I mean, you are so GOOD at planning, right?

The big question is, what are the hidden costs that have crept into your project?

I thought I'd do this post as a case study: Here's a design board for a bedroom re-do. As you can see, there isn't a lot of furniture involved, just a few key pieces. Let's say you had put this together with your $6000 bedroom re-do budget. You put all the furniture pricing in your spreadsheet and you are right on target - just under 6g. 

CAVdesign Master Bedroom

You're on track, so you push the button and purchase the items.  Then the credit card bills roll in, and the stuff arrive and somehow it's not done AND it seems like it's costing a lot more than planned. 

Let's start with the most obvious cost we tend to ignore -- sales tax. In New York sales tax is 8.875%. That's pretty close to 9% which is pretty close to 10% in my book. But did you know that shipping is added on before tax is calculated? Yes it is, and that compounds things a bit. 

Here's how this room added up  - fortunately a few of the stores we sourced from don't charge shipping, and a couple don't even charge sales tax. Yay! (at least for now)...

Pre-tax, pre shipping cost: $5934

Shipping: $347

Taxes: $466

Total: $6747 - about $800 over the initial numbers -- or almost 12% over. 

But wait, there’s more...

The light fixtures need to be installed by an electrician, because they are hard wired (no cord) - $300

Then you'll likely need someone to repair the wall after the electrician is done - so let's say $300 for that. Then you need the wallpaper hanger to come in for $600. That’s another $1200 for labor, and your mirror still isn’t hung up…

Now, this is not meant to be depressing, but just a way to think about the budget. You thought you were coming in somewhere around $6000, but now, you are at about $8000. -- 20% over your intended budget. You can see where this heads with a larger initial budget. 

The takeaway? You should add at least 20% into your budget over the cost of your furniture. but if possible, I would bring that number up to 30%. So, plan to spend a third less than your total budget on the base furniture cost,  and save the rest to help with taxes, freight and installation. That way you’ll have a little left over to celebrate with a glass of champagne!

Interested in the items on the board? Here are the links:

Wallpaper | Bed | Wall Sconces |Mirror | Dresser | Bench | Pillows | Chair

What if I love the look but I need to cut back? There are some 'splurge' items here, like the dresser, but there are also a few well-designed pieces that are real bargains, like the sconces, the mirror and the chair. If you wanted to save a bit, you could substitute the 'non-leather' version of the bed, and find a lower priced seagrass bench. To save on the labor  you could source plug-in sconces instead. I think the wallpaper adds a lot to the space, so I would keep that.

TIP - if you are bringing in a wallpaper hanger for just a feature wall, ask yourself if there is anything else you want wallpapered? The back of cabinets? Another wall? A small powder room? The cost will likely not be much more since you are paying for them to get there in the first place, and you can get a big 'added value' from having more areas enhanced with wallpaper. 

Planning a room makeover? Want to give (or ask for!)  a truly special holiday gift? CAVdesign now offers a brand new package - the VIP Master Plan! And, for a quick room refresh, a Design Coaching Session will help get your mantle pretty,  your bookshelf styled or your artwork hung -- use it for what you need the most. 

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