Establishing a Realistic Total Budget Your total project budget will include several components:
Hard CostsHard costs include the monies paid to a general contractor to construct the project plus the cost of owner-purchased items to be installed such as kitchen appliances and decorative lighting. At the beginning of the design process, we develop with you an initial budget spreadsheet, which is typically adjusted when a contractor’s bid is accepted and then again at the conclusion of the project. We suggest that early budgeting be presented as a range or carry a contingency to acknowledge that there are still unknowns about the final scope of work.
Soft Costs Soft costs include other consultants and fees including architectural and structural engineering fees, specialized consultants such lighting designers, geo-technical engineers etc., the cost of permits, taxes, and reimbursable expenses such as the cost of reproduction of drawing sets. For budgeting purposes, we typically suggest that clients add approximately 25% to the hard costs to accommodate these items.

TIP: When speaking with contractors (and even many architects) it is important to be specific about the difference between what you would like to spend on hard costs versus your total budget including soft costs. If this is not specified, many design professionals and contractors will assume you are speaking in hard costs only.
Furniture and Finishings These items include elements not typically installed by the contractor such as draperies and moveable furniture. They are not included in the hard cost calculation.
Landscape Design and Installation These components of a project are typically tracked separately unless the work is being performed by the project’s general contractor rather than a landscape contractor.