With over 130 renovation projects completed, ranging from minor cosmetic to full gut renovations, we've had dozens of questions. We've compiled all of them here to help guide you through the process. 


How accurate is my bid going to be?

  • Cosmetic Renovations:  Our bids are typically within 5-10% of our preliminary walk-through quote.
  • Gut Renovations: Our bids are typically within 10-15% of our preliminary walk-through quote. Older homes typically present unforeseen problems and additional costs that cannot be found until demolition is complete.
  • Additions: Our bids are typically within 15%-20% of our preliminary walk-through quote. Typically, in renovation loans, there are no architectural plans drafted prior to closing. We work off of sketches that aren't detailed enough to get in a closer range. We recommend for all of our clients doing an addition to plan on having a 15-20% contingency.

What is a contingency? What happens if it is or is not used?

  • The contingency is designed to address complications found during a renovation project. Examples of contingency utilization include, but are not limited to, the following: fire damage, termite damage, improper construction techniques by previous owners, unseen structural damage, etc.
  • If the contingency is not used, it can either go back toward the principal balance of the loan or it can be used to upgrade finishes or add to the scope of work. Using or not utilizing the contingency does not affect mortgage payments as the payments are based off the original total loan amount.

What happens if the renovation costs exceed the total project and contingency? 

  • It is extremely rare that a project exceeds the original budget and contingency. In every instance where it has exceeded both in our projects, it has been by the homeowner adding to the scope of work. Those additions are paid out of pocket outside of the loan.

Can my budget change? 

  • The budget can occasionally change leading up to the start of the project and occasionally afterwards. 
    • Inspection: Building inspections are an opportunity to thoroughly learn what has been neglected on a home and what is urgent and nonurgent.
    • Appraisal: After the formal bid is sent to the bank for underwriting, it is sent off for appraisal. The appraiser will evaluate the detailed bid and what similar homes fixed up have sold for. In some cases, the appraisal may not come in at the desired amount. At this point, we adjust the original bid to match the appraised value. This may require the scope or allowances to change to accommodate the appraisal.
    • Plans & Design: Detailed architectural plans typically come after closing because of the cost and chance the closing may not occur.  There are instances where homeowners, architects, and code compliance requires revisions to the original budget. It is because of this that we recommend projects requiring architectural plans to have a minimum 15% contingency.
    • Permits: When submitting for permits, there may come code compliances that each municipality may require.
    • Selections: During the selection period, homeowners occasionally make selections that are more than what were originally provided in the allowance. These changes can either draw from other line items, the contingency, or come out of pocket.
    • Discovery: The demolition is when issues are discovered. Discovery items are what the lender's contingency is designed to address.

How long will it take to do my project?

  • Permits & Planning: 14-30 Days
  • Determined Timeline: On average, we typically spend $10,000 per week. The project total determines the length of time it takes to complete. (Ex. $120,000 budget = 12 weeks to completion after permits are received)
  • Cabinets: 4-6 weeks for cabinets (after ordered)
  • Stone Tops: 2 weeks for counters (after template)
  • Occupancy: Projects that have bath and kitchen remodels will not qualify for occupancy permits until complete. Occupancy cannot be taken until complete.

What if something was not included in my bid?

  • If an item is not in the bid, it is not included in the scope of work.
  • During the original estimating process, some items may not be discussed or included. Items not included will not be completed unless there are change orders. Change orders can come from other line items or from the contingency.  
  • Approved change orders after a signed contract take precedence over the original quote included in the contract.
  • Change orders are uploaded and approved through our online project management software system.

How do I know my project will be completed or the work is quality?

  • Third-party Inspectors: The lender provides a third-party consultant to verify that work has been done in a timely, craftsman manner.
  • Progress Inspections: The third-party consultant will inspect the project upon a draw request. After review, the consultant will verify the percentage complete and submit the required documentation to the lender for the release of funds.
  • Timely Draws and Submissions: Any delays in the draw requests can cause a delay in the completion of your project. It is imperative to quickly respond with concerns and verify change orders so the draws can be disbursed to vendors, specialty contractors, and our employees. 

How do we communicate during my project?

  • Progress Meetings: We know how valuable your project is to you. As a result, we hold weekly progress meetings to keep you in the know about the progress.
  • Online Communication: Renovation projects are notorious for communication breakdowns. Fortunately, we've implemented a single point of communication for tracking.
    • Track Project Running Total: Keeping track of how much money you have spent on a project is important. You can now easily view a categorized list so that you know exactly where each expense came from.
    • Updated Calendar: View the detailed calendar that tracks current project status, upcoming events, and important dates. Keeping yourself informed of the construction schedule has never been so easy.
    • Share Your Project: We keep you up-to-date on your project with a customized photo album. Share progress photos with your friends and family on your favorite social media sites.
    • Easy Change Order Approval: No need to drive to our office to approve a time critical change order request. With 24/7 web-based access you can approve your change orders from any connected device.

Can I get my materials from a big box store or website?

  • We've found that the materials on websites and big box stores are mass produced and sub-par to the quality of materials our vendors provide. Additionally, our vendors are typically locally-owned businesses keeping the money you spend on your renovation here in St. Louis.

Cons to buying from websites or big box stores:

  • Flooring - Inconsistency in manufacturing. This can cause more hours in labor to rectify the inconsistencies, which costs more than the materials. 
  • Plumbing - Big box retailers and websites sell internal valves that are mostly plastic and plated plastic. Materials from our vendors are solid and have high-quality valves.
  • Cabinetry - Inconsistency in manufacturing. This can cause more hours in labor to rectify the inconsistencies, which costs more than the materials.

Pros to using our vendors:

  • Service from our vendors is more than worth the cost if/when issues arise.
  • Support local businesses - not big box stores whenever possible.
  • We give you the budgeted amount to shop at our vendors using our contractor pricing.
  • If you spend $1.00 less than the budgeted amount, you will receive $1.00 back as a credit. The opposite is the case if you make a selection that is over-budget.

Who are your subcontractors and how do I know they are any good?

  • Our specialty contractors have gone through an extensive interview and validation process. Each of our specialty contractors are required to have the following:
    • Workman's Comp Insurance
    • General Liability Insurance
    • Financial Solvency
    • Professionalism
    • Provide Warranties

Why do you like to use your contractors? 

  • Our subs address warranty and liability issues.
  • We are legally responsible as your general contractor for all work that happens under our contract.
  • We have a lot of experience with specialty contractors and have weeded out many bad ones.
  • Running an efficient project involves good relationships and communication with all involved parties. This is hindered when a brand new personality is thrown into the mix.

Can I use my own subcontractor?

  • Yes, however, because of the nature of the renovation loans, there are certain requirements that we have to meet as a general contractor. As a result, our specialty contractors also need to meet the same requirements. Any new subcontractors must provide us with:
    • Warranties
    • Workman's Comp
    • General Liability
    • Trade References
    • Client References
    • Financial Viability
    • License and Bonding Information

Do you match other contractors' pricing or offer discounts?

  • We don’t meet or match other contractors' prices as scope of work, quality of materials, and quality of workmanship varies from contractor to contractor. The way to change the cost of a project is to change the scope of work.  

How do you calculate your markup?

  • We apply a percentage to all materials including selection items.  This number is based on a percentage that is charged on all items (materials and labor) required for the successful completion of your project. This percentage includes workman's comp, general liability insurance, tools, vans, accounting, office administration, and many other items it takes to run a successful business and make a reasonable profit on the work.

What is the chain of command and roles of your team?

  • Salesperson
    • Evaluates and previews homes with you as a buyer
    • Provides preliminary bid
    • Helps with selections
  • Project Manager/Foreman
    • Runs your project and is the day-to-day point of contact
    • Helps create and maintain the schedule
    • Runs weekly progress meetings
    • Oversees specialty contractors

Our in-house crew are primarily carpenters experienced in framing, cabinets, trim, doors, windows, stairs, built-ins, etc.


Who helps me with the designs on my home?

  • Over the years, we've found that there's a culmination of resources to help you achieve your design goal.
    • Pinterest 
    • Houzz
    • HGTV
    • Our vendor showrooms - each showroom has a designer in-house
    • Our team
    • Our past projects

How are my finishes selected? 

  • We set up "Design Appointments" at each of our vendor's showrooms generally within 2 weeks of closing.
  • Our vendors have your pricing and selections from your Pinterest as well as from the Houzz accounts you like.
  • We keep in mind the value of your home, your personal taste, quality of materials, and your budget.

Who does renovation loans?

  • There are quite a lot of lenders in St. Louis that do renovation loans. Some don't know they do them; others are competent and well-versed in them. We've worked with both sides and can help you navigate the process. Here are some valuable tips to help you. 
    • Choose a lender who has done at least 10 renovation loans in their career.
    • Almost every bank offers these loans; however, very few loan officers have a lot of experience.
    • Your lender needs to know about all the various loans to determine which is the best fit for your personal needs and finances. 
    • The lender and underwriters need to understand how the paperwork should be submitted, the timelines, and the contractor's obligations.
    • We have worked with many lenders and would be happy to make a recommendation based on our experience, your needs, and the needs of your particular project.

How do you know what my house will be worth when it's done?

  • The renovation loans use what is called a "Subject To" Appraisal, which takes into account the as-is value, but more importantly, what the home will be worth when it's done. This takes into account the following:
    • Our bid, which includes scope of work and grades of finishes
    • Neighborhood
    • Homes recently sold, generally within a mile radius of post renovation value
    • Homes recently sold within the last 6 months to a year (dependent upon lender) of post-renovation value

Have more questions?

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About Us

At Home Buy Design, we are a multi-service company who BUYS, REPAIRS, MANAGES, and SELLS HOMES while focusing on providing you with Fast, Friendly, and Flexible service.

Contact Us

Home Buy Design

St. Louis MO 63130

Home Buy Design
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