Winning !!!!!!! by Alex Guthrie

 Finding the right balance between your budget and your expectations is tricky when the economy is good and very frustrating when money is tight. Older houses are particularly difficult when the inevitable happens and you have to make a decision whether to invest more money in them. Top that off with an anemic housing market, high energy costs, and escalating construction costs; well it kinda makes you want to move to a cabin in the mountains.

In our current financial climate houses are steadily  losing value with no end in sight, so the idea of investing for a quick profit may not be as dependable as it once was. We used to feel confident that investing in a kitchen or master suite would have a better than 50% return at resale but now those assumptions may not be so reliable. This has created a paradigm shift from dream designs to practical, from money is no object to it being the object, from decisions made on the fly to carefully planned and executed projects.  You may end up in your home longer than you planned so the path you choose may have larger consequences than in the past.

But the real challenge is the balance between this years investment vs next years budget; investing more now vs recovering those costs down the road. Meeting all these requirements can be daunting  but it is doable if you plan and execute timely.

The best method is to create a master plan that reflects all the areas in the house you want improved or changed and implement a strategy to get the project completed over the shortest period of time.  A master plan will enable you to not only do the project in phases but also make purchases at optimum times as well.  This will also give you greater flexibility in cost and design.

Phasing projects is a smart and reliable way to control your budget while moving forward at a manageable pace. This is not for everyone since it prolongs the length of time your house is under construction and some people simply aren’t suited for the constant and continuous upheaval; on the other hand, some people enjoy the process.  Selecting the start and finish areas can be simply a matter of practicality and lifestyle; if you have kids at home for the summer it might be best not to start the kitchen first, but with a good plan in place you can certainly start somewhere else and work towards the kitchen. This also gives you an opportunity to buy appliances , cabinets, lighting, and plumbing fixtures on sale and store them until you need them. Taking careful notes and keeping a project file complete with pictures of products and features you want helps everyone throughout the life of the project.

At a time when budgets are tight and the market is unstable, a good well executed plan is the best way to be the winner at the end.

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