The cost of your project needs to be well established. This is not always as easy as it sounds. Once you have established the scope of the work (the brief) you are planning to under take, it is important to establish a budget. If the budget is of prime importance, establish this first and then discuss it with your designer & builder. The project can then be design to stay within your budget. This may mean compromises to what work is done, but it best to know this before you get too far down the track.
However, be careful who you talk to.
Many building companies are good at doing the building work but poor in budgeting and management. This will often lead to an over optimistic quote or estimate and it is usually very hard to tell if everything is included. The best course of action is to research your designer / builder and make sure that you can trust the information being given. A good track record with happy clients is always a good sign.
Your builder should be able to give you a rough guide of what the likely costs are before any work is undertaken. However, any estimate of price at this stage should only be used as a rough guide. The pricing will become more accurate as more information is provided in the form of plans.
The next step should be concept plans from which a more accurate estimate of the pricing of the project should be able to be provided. This is the time to look at some fine tuning of the project to suit the budget if required.
Once the pricing is all tracking to your budget and or goals, you can then move onto construction plans. Once these are completed your builder should be able to provide you with a fixed price quotation which will then set the bulk of the projects cost in stone. Where possible, insist on a fixed quote. Watch out for charge up or cost plus contracts, these can easily over run a budget.
Another area to watch are items that are tagged out or put in to the price as a PC sum. These can dramatically affect the pricing of a project and skew the cost to look more attractive than reality. This is where your home work on the builder will help and provide confidence that their budgeting skills are up to the task.
In summary, watch these points:
Establish a brief. Know what it is that you want to achieve.
Establish your budget.
Do your home work, find the right people.
Confirm the brief with the designer / builder. They will be able to have some input.
Build up and firm up the price on the way through the design process.
Get a fixed price quotation; know the difference between a fixed price and an estimate.