How to Control Costs During the Design Phase in Pittsburgh

Remodeling can be an intimidating project to take on, but with the right team and a solid plan, avoiding budget creep is possible. Controlling home remodeling costs actually takes place during the design phase as we work with you to develop your project.


But first, What Is the Design Phase of a Project?

The first phase of your project is feasibility, where we align scope with budget and produce a schematic design. The second phase is design development, where your ideas and selections develop into digital renderings. This initial phase consists of meetings and detailed communications to bring your project to life.

At J. Francis Company, LLC, cost planning occurs as you make the many decisions that develop into the budget. This allows us (and you) to determine if the scope is driving the budget or if the budget is driving the scope.

What degree of finishes will fit the budget?
Will we need to remove walls?
Will your home require any new electrical updates or plumbing?

These questions and more are customized to your project, and allow us to design the plan and budget.

Ways to Control Costs During Design:

1. Provide Specific Details 

The process will start with a design consultation with your designer to go over the specific details of your goals. To prepare, we recommend that you give as much detail as possible and bring visuals to communicate your goals clearly to your designer. Creating a vision board on Pinterest or Houzz to share with your designer will give them an understanding of your tastes and expectations.

Let's play it out - you have the dream kitchen design you want down in your head, but are you confident in how much it will really cost?


2. What is Contingency?

A contingency is an amount added to an estimate to allow for items, conditions, or events that are uncertain and that, in the contractor's experience, will likely result in additional costs. This includes unforeseen conditions during demolition. It's important to sit down with your designer and decide what contingency is the right amount. 

3. Be Realistic About Your Finishes

The difference in the price of materials can really add up - we're talking thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. To help stay within your budget, plan which areas of your remodel need high-end finishes, and which will not. Starting your project this way will contain design cost by preventing repeating finish selections multiple times.

4. Choose Design-Build 

Your Design/Build Firm is accountable for everything from start to finish.  Knowing your budget, we will work with you from the start to manage the scope of work and to design a project that meets your needs, without exceeding the budget.  

Design-build is transparent because we want clients to understand the process and to know what’s going on. The best partnerships work, not because people say what everyone wants to hear, but because they say what everyone needs to hear. Through clear communication, the budget is defined early on and it becomes the agreement for the entire project. 

5. Addition or Reconfiguration? 

If you’re adding to your home, the "where" will affect your final cost. If your vision is to expand your kitchen, but an addition is over your budget, you could reconfigure the space you already have to create a larger kitchen. 

Be sure to discuss with your designer if working within your home’s existing footprint will make the most sense for increasing your home’s value and work best for your family.


You have more control over your costs than you might think, and with the right remodeling team, you can keep costs under control through proper planning and communication.  J Francis Company, LLCC is known for excellent customer service, transparency, and collaboration. We aim to deliver that which fits your budget, vision, and timeline. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.