230 Point Checklist for Design and Construction Budgeting – Avoid Common Pitfalls

We share the knowledge we collected from the 10,000+ projects and over 500 builders and tradespeople that use our project management platform.

We consider it part of our job at New Avenue to share this information with everyone – customers, architects, designers and contractors alike.

Construction is hard. That’s just a fact of life.  Planning rules change, agencies you’ve never heard of pop up and want permit fees, design is creative and easy to run with while 2×10 rafters are always heavy and rarely straight.  Plus any construction project is probably the longest simple arithmetic test of your life!

A great tactic to survive is to use great checklists.  We view our project budget as one big checklist. One list to rule them all, if you will.

We have tried and tested well over 1,000 formats for our budgets in order to hone in on the optimum number of line items in our budgeting tool.  We have arrived at 57 rows for all design and permitting and 173 rows for construction for a grand total of 230.

At one point we fantasized about a modular home that was just one fixed price.  We found that on a mobile home lot and went ran the other direction, screaming.  One price is clearly too few because most people love custom and we believe that custom home building, when done right, is not only a better quality but also a better price.

At another point we looked at the Construction Specifications Institute “CSI Codes” and found they have an overwhelming 45,000+ codes to choose from.  Respectfully, we believe only an engineer would appreciate this kind of list.   45,000 rows is beyond the limits of normal human patience.

So we tested a few less rows and a few more rows until we got a good number.   Then every time a change order popped up we added it to the budget as well.  We stabilized at 230, and for over a year now we haven’t made any significant changes.

You don’t need to use all of these 230 rows though.  You want to review them to make sure you aren’t forgetting something major, like windows or landscaping.  It’s painless to see something and know you’re not getting it.  It is really painful to realize mid construction that your kitchen cabinets were not included!

For example, one recent design budget for an entire home used only 22 of the 57 design items and the construction bid used only 86 of the 173 construction lines.  Even a $1,500,000 custom home we recently started used only 40 rows.

The budget, like all projects, is broken down into five key phases:

  • Pre Design which includes feasibility research and program development
  • Schematic Design and planning permits
  • Design Development
  • Construction Documents and building permits
  • Construction

For a full budget example, you can click here.  This is not what this actual client paid because that would be innacurate today. This budget shows what a local archtiect and local builder would bid based on current pricing in the area.   This makes it a more accurate summary than simple historical costs:  http://newavenuehomes.com/small-home-clients/erins-inlaw-apt

Here are some snippets from the maser budget:

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Phase V Construction gets much more detailed: 

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For an example of a full budget you can review it here: http://newavenuehomes.com/small-home-clients/erins-inlaw-apt

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

1 thought on “230 Point Checklist for Design and Construction Budgeting – Avoid Common Pitfalls”

  1. I’d love to see the full budget example you mention. But I can’t find it anywhere in the link you provide. Any other options? Thanks!

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