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You may be frustrated (or, at the very least, confused) by the allowances listed in your home remodeling proposals. You’re not alone. Many Cornerstone clients seek to understand how their renovation allowances work, so let’s dive into this important topic.

What are allowances in remodeling proposals?

Allowances are monetary values attached to an item in a remodeled project; they serve as an average cost for particular items for budgeting purposes. For example, if your proposal lists an allowance of $3,000 for lighting fixtures, your actual cost will likely come in above or below this figure, based upon the specific fixtures you select.

Good contractors provide allowances that are based on your style/preferences and current styles in the market; other types of materials you’ve chosen; and overall goals and scope of your project. Incorporating allowances into proposals allows for firm rough pricing without requiring every decision be solidified upfront.

Will I get money back if my allowance selections come in under budget?

Many home improvement contractors support the premist that proposal allowances represent your monetary choices. For example, if your selection on lighting is less than the allowance, you should receive a refund for money you haven’t spent. As the owners and designers at Cornerstone say to clients, “It’s your money!”

Will my choices on finishes or fixtures impact the installation?

Your choices on finishes or fixtures may impact the installation of selected items. For example, you may choose tile with a more labor-intensive pattern or a built-in refrigerator that has special installation requirements. Your contactor should communicate these impactful conditions up front to convey your true costs. If you’ve identified the level of finishes and/or fixtures you’d like in your remodeling project, be sure to share this information with your contractor during your initial phone calls and meetings.

What types of renovation items might have an allowance?

  • plumbing fixtures
  • tile 
  • cabinets and countertops
  • flooring
  • lighting
  • and others

How can I make the best choices with my allowances?

  1. Choose a contractor that you trust completely. This is, by far, the best way to ensure a satisfying outcome with allowances and your finished project.
  2. Ask questions about how your allowances are calculated and what they include.
  3. Do your research on possible selections before your contractor finalizes your proposal. If you’ve found a fabulous bathroom mirror you must have, ask your contractor to include this price in your allowances.
  4. If your tastes are more extravagant or more utilitarian, ask your contractor to factor this into your allowances.
  5. Discuss your budget throughout the project. It’s easy to upgrade a few things here and there and be shocked at your overages at the end of your project.

Take time to understand how your list of allowances will impact your renovation. Before choosing the contractor with the lowest bid, take a close look at the allowances in your proposals. It’s important to note that clients have shared that some contractors may use lower allowances to have their proposals appear more competitive. In short, being armed with the right information and understanding could save you thousands of dollars and minimize unnecessary heartache and pain!

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