As a brand new home owner, I had a few projects to get done before my fiancee and I moved in. It seemed simple: get rid of popcorn ceilings, paint the walls, and put down new floors.

Piece of cake!

I was told that the rule of thumb is that whatever I think it will cost: triple it. However long I think it will take: triple it.

Baloney! I’m not an overly optimistic person. I understand how to take realistic estimates of how long things will take and I am definitely shrewd enough financially not to underestimate.

At least that’s what I thought.

Double Your Cost Estimate to be Safe

If you have a rough idea in your mind about how much money you expect to spend on a project, I suggest you double that estimate to be safe.

Unless you are a very experienced handy man then you should expect to overlook some details.

For example, I pulled up the carpet and will be putting down bamboo floors. I knew I’d have to pay for the floors, the underlayment, some glue for the stairs, and a few tools.

bamboo flooring

photo credit: ninahale

It didn’t occur to me that I would either have to repaint the baseboards I pulled up or buy new ones altogether. Nor did I think about the fact that I might have to level some of the floors and spend time and money doing that.

Those are just my extra flooring costs I know of now, and I haven’t even started flooring yet!

Once you actually know everything you need to do and price everything out, I still suggest to give yourself a little buffer room for additional materials.

For example, we bought 4 rolls of painters tape at the beginning of the project. We’ve now gone through 7 and have plenty more taping to do.

If you double your original cost estimate then you will hopefully keep yourself on budget. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project and running out of money. Unfinished projects drive me crazy!

Triple Your Time Estimate

It has been much easier for us to keep costs in line than it has been for us to get stuff done on time. Again, this is a product of us being first time home owners and not really understanding every piece of a job.

I’ll use floors as an example again. In my mind the steps were 1.) Pull up carpet; 2.) Put down underlayment; 3.) Put down floors.

Pulling up carpet sounds easy enough. Just grip it and rip it right? Well I did that and then…

I realized I had tackboards all over the house and it took a long time to pull them up as well…

Then I realized that I had to get rid of 1600 square feet of carpet and underlayment and my city trash service wouldn’t pick it up…

Then I realized that there are some places where the drywall is so close to the ground that the bamboo won’t fit underneath, so I’ll have to cut off half an inch of drywall in places…

Again, I haven’t even started flooring yet because I’m still not done painting and I’m still not done with all the prep work yet.

And don’t forget all the clean up as well. Every one of these steps makes and mess that needs to be cleaned up.

I can’t stress this enough: if you have an idea of how long something will take but you haven’t done it before, TRIPLE YOUR ESTIMATE!!!

Home Ownership is Work but it’s Worth It

If I could do it all over again, I probably would have stayed one extra month in my current apartment so I had plenty of time to get all the work done before moving in.

Instead I’ll be living and working in a construction zone for a while. (Right now my mattress is sitting on some plastic sheeting, which is sitting on bare concrete floors in a completely empty bedroom.)

Despite all the costs, time, and frustrations there are three really great things about this renovation work.

First, Tag and I are going to have a really awesome house with beautiful paint and great floors that we can admire.

Second, we should at least make our money back and hopefully even turn a profit when we do eventually resell the home.

And finally, if Tag doesn’t leave me before we are done (I have unfortunately been kind of a jerk at times because the frustrations have been weighing on me) then I know our relationship will be stronger than ever. If we can make it through this then I feel great about us being able to weather any storm that comes our way.

Readers: What’s the last home renovation project you did (even if it wasn’t in your own home)? Did you go over budget? Did it take longer than you expected?