Home Improvement Articles

What is a TRB and how does it save you Time and Money?
Step 6: They get a LOT of things wrong on HGTV, but defining a Max Target Budget is one area that they don't let slide on a single episode!
Thursday, April 30, 2020

(Q) What is a Target Renovation Budget (TRB)?

(A) There are a lot of things that they get wrong in the shows on HGTV as they portray what the home renovation process looks like, but one thing they get right is on nearly every show, they ask the client for the Max Target Renovation Budget. This is the dollar amount they want to invest into their home improvement project. Why is that important? The hosts ask for the TRB so that they can make informed decisions on behalf of their clients. We’ve never met a client who wanted to make granular decisions about every board we purchased or material we recommend. The level of detail we would need to communicate would be overwhelming and would likely cause cost increases with very little in additional value. Clients hire us for the value we bring in our expertise. Sharing your TRB allows our team to effectively leverage our years of experience to make a narrow range of recommendations that will keep the contract price of your project in-line with Target Renovation Budget. It also allows our team to provide an prompt and courteous up-front reality check when clients bring us plans and sample photos for a $60,000 basement renovation, and inform us that their TRB is $15,000. This polite reality check saves our clients a lot of time, and undue frustration of going through an entire quoting process, only to learn their budget won't provide the outcome they are seeking and allows us to make cost saving recommendations or master plan a multi-phase renovation that will meet the immediate needs, while staying within the budget and also sets our clients up for success and cost-savings when they are ready to move into phase 2 because provisions were included in phase 1.


(Q) Why is it important to provide your contractor with an accurate TRB?

(A) When we are pricing out a bathroom, we can choose the $1.50 a square foot tile...or the $3 or the $5 per square foot tile. If our client wants a high end, and we quote them basic finished, they might be concerned with the quality of the materials we've chosen. If our client wants the budget-friendly items, and we picked all high-end finishes, that client may tell us, “You are out of your mind!” A tiled shower base is more costly than a prefabricated fiberglass or acrylic shower base. Larger budgets allow for fun features like under-tile electric heat to take the chill off the floor in the morning, but we won't include those optional upgrades on the projects focused on finding cost savings. So once we've provided some ballpark numbers, we ask our clients for some guidance on where they want the TRB to hit, so we can choose materials and construction methods accordingly. This saves a LOT of time going back and forth making countless revisions to the proposal only to have our clients throw up their hands in frustration with "all the options" and trying to make a decision.

Let’s look at another example… decking. There is pressure-treated lumber at the bottom of the price range and there is a slightly higher grade of Pressure Treated Lumber. There are also composite decking materials like Trex, which has 3 different levels, differing in look and longevity. The high-end decking has a much thicker skin on the composite materials and should wear longer and weather better than the thinner versions. (There are other manufactures available, but in most cases, we've found Trex products to be very consistent and the easiest to work with, which means faster install times, as compared with imitators.) We also have several different railing suppliers and styles we can choose from.... from Trex, Superior, and others we trust, depending on the desired appearance and budget, but again, you input on what look you are going for... and the TRB you provide is going to guide our decisions as we prepare your project proposal.

(Q) Can you quote it with a budget friendly number, and then also a mid-range and high end and we'll choose one?
(A) Sadly, no. We receive over 40 calls per week, and we enjoy working with clients who trust and value our experience. It’s simply not practical for us to provide 3 to 5 different versions of the project to each client with all the permutations of the various options. Not only is it overly burdensome on our staff to quote and track that many that many variations, it impossible for us to ask this of our suppliers. It quadruples the time involved in preparing the quote. By the same token, simply asking us to “avoid the cheapest and most expensive options and just give me the mid-range suggestions” is equally broad and a very slow way to get to contract level details for job specifications.
We have provided this service in the past for an additional fee, and in our experience, the customers who have asked for 3 to 5 different versions of the same project, decide at the end, "we're going to put this project off another year or two" and often, it’s not because they don't have the financial resources, but rather, because of decision fatigue caused by looking at too many choices and finding themselves unable to agree on which one they Love.

(Q) I don't want to share my budget with our contractor.  What are my options?
(A) The TRB gives our team permission to use our experience and expertise to make recommendations in-line with your design preferences and desired financial investment in your Renovation or Remodel project. If you can’t provide a TRB after we give you a ballpark, you may do well to hire an interior designer or an architect to design your space, and send us the specifications to quote for you. Some clients have aversions to providing a TRB because they are looking hire the lowest price contractor, or because they have a general dis-trust of the construction trades and feel its important to feel like they "got a deal." Again, in that instance, you may do well to hire a design professional who can work with you through multiple versions of your project, and bring us a formal set of plans and a scope of work to quote once you have settled on what you are looking for.
(Q) How do I, as the client, benefit from providing a TRB?
(A) Working this process in a transparent manner, by starting with your TRB, helps our staff and our suppliers to make appropriate design decisions and work efficiently in preparing a proposal that gives you as many of the features, design elements, and preferred styles as possible while staying in-line with your budget for this project. Your TRB streamlines the process, and gets you through the design & quoting phase an into the renovation phase faster so that you can enjoy your new space sooner. And it helps our team provide you with the Outstanding Customer Service Experience we are locally famous for.

(Q) What if I have no-idea what this project should cost?

(A) We value honest conversation. If you aren't sure what a project should cost, you can share that with our team early in our conversations and we'll be happy to guide you. That's why we start with virtual estimates and our ballparks. Its also okay to say, "We have about $10,000 to spend on our basement, and we're not sure if that's going to be enough to do what we want to do. Will you guide us?" Our team will be happy to assist you, asking you questions about your goals for the space, prioritizing needs, and possibly looking at a phased renovation.

You may find it interesting to note that determining what a project "should cost" is relative to what is important to you.  Are you looking for a short term band-aid or a long term solution?  Do you want $1.25 per square foot flooring, or $5.00 per square foot flooring? Do you want to hire a local, trusted, reputable, registered, and insured contractor with 150 Five Star reviews, and a dedicated office staff who has lived in worked in our community since 2001, or a guy off craig-list who moon-lights as a contractor on nights and weekends? Differing answers to those questions will lead you down a path to two very different project quotes.  COPE is not the cheapest contractor in our area.   However, Cope is one of the most reputable providers of home improvement services here in Southern Chester County, PA.   It would be our pleasure to serve as your guide on this journey. 

HGTV doesn't get much right, when it comes to the reality of home projects, but the one area they excel in, is their designers clarifying customer expectations up front, including getting a Target Renovation Budget before the first sketch is ever drawn.


Let's continue the journey with Step 7: "the on-site visit, consultation, or proposal meeting"

Step 1: Decide you want to improve your home.
Step 2: Search for a Contractor or learn about us from friends and neighbors or on social media.
Step 3: Read our reviews on Facebook and Google Maps.
Step 4: Contact us with details about your project.
Step 5: VES: Virtual Estimate System, Ballparking your repair, renovation, addition or new construction project.
Step 6: TRB: Target Renovation Budget, dialing in on what features and finishes are most important
Step 7: OSC: On-Site Consultation, Design, or Proposal Meetings
Step 8: Review a Formal Quote or our Home Improvement Agreement
Step 9: Finish your due diligence in screening us...
Step 10: Sign the Agreement and return it with your Deposit
Step 11: Scheduling the work
Step 12: Preparing for your renovation
Step 13: What to Expect during your remodel
Step 14: The Big Reveal


What type of work does COPE provide? Our team is experienced in all manner of new home design and construction, additions, garages, renovations and remodels, along with all types of home repairs. We can assist you with Kitchens, Bathrooms, Finished Basements, New Construction, Custom Homes, Drywall, Plumbing, Electrical work, Windows, Doors, Siding, Roofing, Exteriors, mysterious water leaks and more... What Problem can we SOLVE for you?

We're your local team! When we're finished, you'll be proud to say, "It's not just done... It's #CopeBUILT!

COPE Construction and Renovation is a registered and insured Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor. PA88078. We look forward to serving you soon!