In today’s world, budget is considered a

Dirty Word.

It brings up feelings of restrictions and limits our ideas. However, let’s face it: the dreaded B word exists on every project. Even if the project has a meaty budget, there is always a tipping point where we get told to scale back.

How do I know this? Well, I have worked on a few projects with eye-watering budgets over the years, and there has always been one component that doesn’t make the final cut.

Whether that be the singing and dancing Toto toilet, the hand-gilded silver ceiling or omitting the outdoor furniture covers from the soft furnishing quote (which, as a side note, is mind-blowing when you think about the sun in Australia!).

Recently, we have been undertaking value management on a large-scale residential project. We need to reduce the overall tender quote by approximately 10%. This project has a project manager, so all the consultants are working through ways we can reduce costs without compromising aesthetics.

Everyone has an opinion on how we can achieve this goal:

+ Why don’t you swap this finish for that finish?

+ Can we alter this detail for that detail?

+ Let’s reduce the benchtop from 40mm to 20mm (to reduce labour costs).

+ How do you feel if we down-spec the hardware?

You get the drift!

It got me thinking about how, as designers, we have this visceral fear when we need to redesign something heavily invested in. A sharp stab to the chest when you need to down-spec that finish, detail, or item you know is perfect for the project.

Then, of course, there is the delicate dance of knowing when to compromise or push back, especially when working with high-end projects. For example, expensive joinery in a lower-value house won’t significantly increase the property’s value. But cheap joinery in a high-value house will detract from its overall appeal. This is often noticeable in real estate listings for properties over a threshold when there is an expectation for exceptional appliances and the epitome of finishes.

Here are a few ideas I have been

Flirting with…

I hope this post offered insights into framing the word budget in your mindset.

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