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Home Build prep guide



Home Build Budget Overage Q+A

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


Avoiding home build budget overages is one of the TOP home build concerns that I hear over and over from clients inside my private ‘Before You Build’ program.

This is a VERY common fear among people getting ready to build their dream home. 

Sooo … if you’re feeling nervous or confused about the budget piece of home building, you are definitely NOT alone.

I think just about everyone assumes they’ll go over budget when building because all we ever hear is … ‘it’s impossible to stay on budget’ and that ‘everyone goes over budget’.

I’m calling bull crap on this one!

Yes, it’s true that *most* people DO go over budget when building a house, but that doesn’t mean *everyone* does.

This is YOUR experience, and you don’t have to be like *most people*

I didn’t go over budget, and you don’t have to either.

But believe me … the more information you know about the home build budget BEFORE you build, the better your chance of sticking to that elusive budget :).

In this episode, I’ll answer your home build budget overage questions PLUS I have a special invitation for you at the end of this post because I want YOU to feel equipped and confident in your ability to build your own dream home within budget (or at least very close to budget).

Ready to confidently build a house that you absolutely LOVE and is perfect for YOUR family (now + into the future) … without blowing your budget? Learn how in my *FREE* masterclass, ‘How to Build Your Dream Home on Budget without Sacrificing Your Must-Haves’. 🙌 Grab your (virtual) seat here!

Home Build Budget Overage Q+A

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Below is the full transcript for this podcast episode.

Hey there! Welcome to the ‘Before You Build’ podcast. I’m your host, Carrie Barker (aka, Caroline on Design). 

In today’s episode, I am answering the top home build budget overage questions that I get (over and over).

Chances are, you might be wondering the exact same thing.

The questions I’ll answer in this episode are:

  1. How many home builds go over budget?
  2. Why do construction projects go over budget?
  3. What happens when a builder goes over budget?


You can google this question and find a million different answers (and I’ll share the most common answer below), but the best thing for you to do is to ask LOCAL builders how many of THEIR builds go over budget. 

You can do this when you’re conducting your builder interviews. 

It doesn’t matter how many home builds go over budget in general

What matters is how many of YOUR potential builders’ homes go over budget.

I know, I know … you still want a general idea of how many projects go over budget, so let’s talk about it. 

My research (a.k.a. Google search) consistently suggests that 85-90% of home builds end up over budget. 

However, this doesn’t give us the full picture.

It isn’t clear how many of these projects are significantly over budget vs more like my custom home build where we ended up about 1% over budget (which is basically ‘on budget’).

While it isn’t surprising that the vast majority of builds are over budget, keep in mind that 10-15% of people DO stay within budget :). 

So it IS possible to build a home without blowing the budget.

Luckily, I was in that 10-15% and I share exactly how I managed to stick to budget while still building a house I absolutely Love via my *FREE* masterclass that I’ll tell you about at the end of this episode. 

As I mentioned earlier, you can get general statistics from Google, but the ONLY way to get an accurate idea of how much YOUR local builders go over budget is to ask them during your builder interviews.


Many factors contribute to construction projects going over budget.

Some factors are completely out of your control (e.g. rising material/labor costs and time-lags with material delivery or lack of available contractors), while other factors ARE within your control.

Although you can’t control rising costs and other unforeseen situations, you can maintain some ‘control’ over these extra expenses by adding a buffer to your budget to cover unexpected costs that arise during your build.

The biggest issues (within your control) that lead to budget overages are a lack of planning and a lack of vision for your future home. 

Indirectly, these issues lead to inaccurate quotes from builders because they don’t have the full ‘picture’ of your future home.

Without a clear vision of your future home, your builder will be unable to give you an accurate bid on what it will cost to build your home.

And without an accurate bid, it’s very likely that you will go into your build without a REALISTIC budget, and, consequently, you can kiss your chances of staying on budget ‘goodbye’.

I don’t want this to happen to you, and that is exactly why I created my private ‘Before You Build’ program to help YOU plan for your home build the RIGHT way so that you end up with a home that you love and is within (or very close to) budget :).


This is highly dependent on WHY your build went over budget.

If the budget overage is due to you (the homeowner) upgrading finishes mid-build or creating change orders during the building process, then these particular budget overages come out of your pocket.

However, things get a little murkier when budget overages are outside of your control (e.g. rising material and/or labor costs)

And even more murky when it’s difficult to pinpoint whose fault an overage is (e.g. the builder said they would order the light fixtures, but forgot and now the price has increased).

The person responsible for covering overages outside of your control typically depends on the type of construction contract you decide with your builder.

There are two primary types of construction contracts: Fixed-Price and Cost-Plus.

With a Fixed-Price contract, your builder is responsible for most budget overages that are outside of your control (but you’re still responsible for change orders and/or upgrades).

With a Cost-Plus contract, you are responsible for nearly all budget overages (whether the overage is within your control or not).

Side note: Most builders are using the cost-plus contract option during this volatile time in the home build market OR they have to build in extra buffers if using a fixed-price model (so it gets pretty expensive). I’ve also heard of builders doing a hybrid method of using the fixed-price contract model but excluding certain items from the fixed-price (e.g. lumber).

I highly recommend that you have a lengthy conversation with your builder so that you are VERY clear on how they handle budget overages that are outside of your control (or when it appears that the builder is to blame for the overage).

Learn more about Fixed-Price and Cost-Plus Contracts in ‘How Custom Builders Charge’.


My husband and I *barely* went over budget when building our house and I’m here to help you do the same!

The same timeless principles that worked for me to build my dream home less than 1% over budget will work for you too.

I promise that with the right preparation, even if you go over budget due to variables outside of your control, you’ll still be WAY closer to budget than you would be without proper planning. 


It takes strategic planning and preparation (long before you break ground) to have a chance of building your dream home within budget. 

This prep work will be invaluable when it comes to sticking to your budget (or at least close to your budget) when building your dream home.

If you want to learn how to build on budget from someone whose been there and done that, grab a (virtual) seat in my *FREE* masterclass, ‘How to Build Your Dream Home ON Budget without Sacrificing Your Must-Haves.’

Here’s exactly what you’ll learn in this *FREE* class:

👉 The top 3 mistakes everybody makes when building a house and WHY these lead to significant budget overages.

👉 The simple secret to designing a house you LOVE (psst … no design experience needed!).

👉 My 4 step ‘Before You Build Blueprint™’ for building a house you absolutely love and is perfect for YOUR family … WITHOUT blowing your budget or sacrificing your must-haves.

​If you’re dreaming of building a home and the thought of any home build budget overage scares the crap out of you, you do NOT want to miss this training!

Grab your (virtual) seat here! 

Ready to confidently build a house that you absolutely LOVE and is perfect for YOUR family (now + into the future) … without blowing your budget? Learn how in my *FREE* masterclass, ‘How to Build Your Dream Home on Budget without Sacrificing Your Must-Haves’. 🙌 Grab your (virtual) seat here!

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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