You feel ill.

You knew it wasn’t going to be good. But this bad?

A knot forms in your stomach as you look over the amount you now owe.

You frantically look it over to find any error…but you can’t find anything—nothing to make you feel even a little better.

No errors you can spot – everything here is a legitimate charge.

How did this happen?

How did you go so far over on the budget for your new home?

Believe it or not, you’re not alone. Many more construction projects go over budget than do not. And the larger the project, the larger the odds.

So how do you avoid that potential disaster if you are just starting, or are in the middle of, an extensive renovation or new build?

Well, to be honest, it’s not easy. Many will tell you that going over budget is an inevitability.

But there are ways to keep the additional costs down, if not stay completely under your budgetary goals.

And we’re here to help.

Below we will go over 10 ways to avoid going over budget on your construction project.


1. Beware Things Other than Your Construction Costs

Make sure you take into account ALL costs. There are costs to consider over and above the construction costs themselves. 

Don’t let things like interior decorating and landscaping take you by surprise. Best to get an idea as soon as you can.

Layout everything that will happen during your construction project, and make sure you have pricing, or at least an estimate, for each one.


2. What’ll It Be?

You define what is important to you by what you dedicate your time to.


If your budget’s important to you (and let’s be honest, it always is), then you may have to make some concessions later on. Take the time right now to figure this out so you’re prepared later.

What do you want in your project that’s an absolute necessity? And what could you get by without or possibly add in the future?

I would recommend making a list and even numbering it in order.

Be clear about the needs of you and your family. Maybe you have to focus on size right now, and you can add in some of the “extra” things you want a few years down the road.

Or maybe cooking and family meals are a priority in your household. Move the kitchen and dining room up that list. 

There may be some tough choices, but it will help to get clear on what your priorities are. Now and in the future (in the likely scenario of #6 on this list.)


3. Get These Out of The Way, Right Away

The thought of sitting through another meeting at this point is agonizing. You just want to get on with it. Push those decisions to later in the project, so your project can get started! 

It’s so tempting.

And I understand – all those meetings can be draining. But if you want to be serious about your budget, then the more time you can take right now to make any decisions upfront will make life better for everyone involved.

And it’ll save potential budgetary issues down the road – guaranteed.


4. Don’t do This Unless You’re an Expert

Many people want to do small and large portions of a project themselves. 

And that could be okay. 

But, if this is you, make sure you know what you are doing. Too many times we’ve seen someone try to tackle a project, and it ends up costing 50% more (or more). 

And then there’s the possibility of an “oops”…and none of us want that.

Sometimes it’s better to leave it in the hands of the experts.


5. Careful Who You Trust

Don’t trust everything you see…Even salt looks like sugar.

~Maryum Ahsam


Diligently research your builder. We have a detailed article about this here.

You may find good information by doing research in your local area. Some general contractors give more change orders than others, and some consistently go over budget with their clients. So ask around town. 

It helps to know which are which.

I’ve seen plenty of stories first-hand where going with the lowest bid didn’t yield the lowest end-result.

Be wary who you’re doing business with.


6. Be Willing to Rob Peter to Pay Paul

Know where you’re willing to cut corners and where you’re willing to invest more.

As your project moves forward, it may become unavoidable to go over in one area, either planned or unplanned. So make sure you know where you’re willing to take from to make ends meet.

The list you made above should guide you in the right direction.


7. Don’t Fall Into This Trap

You know the one.

“Well, we’re already getting $300 in groceries, what’s an extra $30?”

And the next thing you know, your final grocery bill is $450.

Only in construction, those numbers are a lot bigger – and add up a lot faster.

So watch the well, we’re already spending this much trap.


8. These will Sneak Up on You

You know those things you put in another category so you could choose them later on – during the building process? Faucets, sinks, and (the big one) appliances, to name a few.

Yeah – those pesky allowances. The best an architect and general contractor can do is guess at the cost, without a selection upfront.

And would it surprise you to know that most people change their minds on these items during construction?  And which direction do you think these changes take the budget?

Yep – usually in the wrong direction.

The more precise you are on what’s needed, and the sooner you make selections, the better the chance of controlling the cost going into your allowances.

And if not, you could easily fall into the trap above…


9. Don’t Get Distracted

Most builders will share your costs with you frequently, make sure you take advantage (and if they aren’t willing to…see #5). 

They will probably have a plan for you, but if they don’t, state how often you want to see this.


10. Have a Rainy Day Fund

Most projects go over budget, and there’s a reason for that. Honestly, no matter how hard you try, the odds are that you still may.

But, if you keep up on it, and don’t splurge on anything (much), you can keep the amount to a minimum.

But just in case, it’s a good idea to have a little slush fund you can grab if this happens.

You know what they say: “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”


Do You Think You’ve Got Nailed Down?

Your stomach starts to knot up.

You’re about to look at the final price of your house. 

You know it will be over budget. But by how much?

You thought you did everything you could to keep it on budget, but the thought won’t leave your mind.

Your eyes scan down to the final price and…

That can’t be right.

You are actually on budget?

It almost doesn’t seem possible. But if you pay attention to the things above, select the right team to work with, and stick to your initial plan, you can meet your construction budget.

And you and your family will move into your new home without another care in the world.



H-1 Construction is consistently recognized as one of Hawaii’s best custom home builders, and we are here to help – whether working on your new home, renovation, or just helping you make the right decisions. 

If you would like more information or a free consultation, you can visit our website or email us at

LIC# BC-34618 | PHONE 808.554.9462