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Home renovation projects, even seemingly simple and short ones, can spiral out of control financially and time-wise. This takes an additional toll on your mental health and stress levels.

Of course, getting a fair assessment of your home renovation costs upfront would be ideal. How exactly do you go about getting the best possible estimate?

Rely on a thorough written contract and not on what was conveyed orally

The more that the contract gets down in writing, the better. It should include a start/end date, material costs, labor costs, the scope of the work and exclusions, among other issues. For example, an exclusions clause may state that the contractors are not responsible for removing debris. You can then budget additional money to hire another party to do that rather than find out at the last minute. Speaking of additional money, keep an eye on any “allowances” in the contract. If a contractor has too much room for the purchase price of materials, your budget could go up hugely in the blink of an eye.

As for the timeline, it should include a payment schedule. For example, you might pay a deposit upfront, with four additional installments paid after completion of certain phases. The contract should also detail any penalty fees the contractor pays for missing the deadline. For especially pricey projects, it is also good to include information on arbitration and dispute resolution.

Beware of promises made orally. If contractors say they will do something but it is not in the contract, get it added. Also, the contract should have a guarantee of the work.

Protect the renovation

You may be happy initially with your renovation and its cost, but what happens if defects emerge a year later? It does not seem fair for you to pay all over again for another renovation project. Protection is important, and most contractors guarantee their work in writing for a specific period of time such as 15 months or even four years. Even if your contract does not have a guarantee, you have some safeguards as long as the contractor is licensed.