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|Posted on December 18, 2015 at 2:57 PM||comments (760)|
USA's National Averages Cost vs. Value Report 2015
Blackstone's Price List*
$51,696: Attic Bedroom (midrange)
$65,442: Basement Development (midrange)
$75,726: Sunroom Addition (midrange)
$84,201: Family Room Addition (midrange)
$85,592: Garage Addition (upscale)
$111,245: Master Suite Addition (midrange)
$161,925: Two-Story Addition (midrange)
$236,363: Master Suite Addition (upscale)
$19,226: Minor Kitchen Remodel (midrange)
$56,768: Major Kitchen Remodel (midrange)
$113,097: Major Kitchen Remodel (upscale)
$16,724: Bathroom Remodel (midrange)
$39,578: Bathroom Addition (midrange)
$54,115: Bathroom Remodel (upscale)
$76,429: Bathroom Addition (upscale)
*prices are estimates only.
Never seen a price list like that from a renovator before? Neither have we!
That's because we cheated.
As a General Contractor in New Developments / Large Scale Renovations / Additions, specializing in both residential and commercial projects - we are constantly asked how much big complicated projects will cost. While individual fixed quotes per project can vary greatly per each project's unique design, the estimate figures above are the most accurate we've ever published.
And here's our big secret how we came up with our price list - we stole it straight off Remodeling Magazine's famous 'Cost Vs. Value Report 2015'. This power house pricing database contains:
While we've never yet come across any Canadian data that comes close to this report, we feel comfortable enough recommending it to you as the next best alternative. We've compared the Report's pricing against our own estimating models and concluded the costs in this report differ from our own by 10% at worst, and spot on at best (foreign currency conversions aside).
|Posted on February 1, 2014 at 4:08 PM||comments (157)|
HGTV's Too-Great Expectations
How HGTV's home improvement shows create unrealistic expectations for homeowners.
We've all seen it. Turn on HGTV, and before long you'll run across a family in distress after a home improvement project gone wrong. They've apparently been wronged at the hands of an "evil" contractor who took their money and ran, leaving behind a half-finished master bath or floor tile that began to come up the moment they began walking on it. Never fear...Mike Holmes and the Knights of Home Improvement are here! Before you can say "prime time," half of the house has been gutted and miraculously recreated using top-of-the-line products fit for Windsor Castle with no price tag in sight.
The Ravages of Reality TV
Ah yes...even home improvement cannot escape the ravages of "reality" TV. What the majority of these "save the day" shows forget to pass along in their search for ratings is the fact that some of these "wronged" homeowners tried to get their original contractor to complete a $50,000 dream renovation on a $5,000 budget. Many shows simply do not divulge all of the costs that come into play when you want your home redone right. Just like the old saying about square pegs and round holes suggests, it can't be done. You get what you pay for, and if you aren't paying much, don't plan on getting a whole lot in return.
Miracle Makeovers and Magical Gnomes
While some of the contractors who carried out the original work featured on some home shows may have been dishonest or underqualified, expecting someone to perform miracles you don't intend to pay for can make even the best contractor look like a bad guy. Home improvement programs have done both homeowners and contractors a great disservice by neglecting to dig into the underlying causes of many "botched" renovations. Miracle makeovers that seem not to have a price tag give homeowners the impression that good renovations are completed by a team of magical gnomes who only expect a shady spot in a corner of the garden in exchange for their efforts. Viewers have become detached from the fact that home improvement has a price, and excellent home improvement has an even higher one. They also fail to recognize that the majority of contractors are honest, hard-working people who expect to be paid fairly for their efforts, and that the building materials don't grow on trees bordering the homes of the magical gnomes they expected to complete their renovation.
Who foots the bill?
Many people simply expect too much for too less, and home improvement programs do little to accurately represent contractors or educate homeowners. In the case of many hugely-popular shows, the studio foots the bill, so viewers are never exposed to the actual costs. Contractors come across looking like the bad guys, and homeowners don't receive the information they need to secure quality work by offering a fair and reasonable price. HGTV and friends could better serve their loyal viewers by exposing the realities of renovation. Using materials only the Hilton's can afford without second-mortgaging their lives away only provides greedy eye candy for overly-hopeful homeowners. It simply isn't possible to get granite tile on a linoleum budget, but at least people in the latter category should know how to get the best linoleum money can buy. They should also be able to sleep at night knowing the Mike Holmes and company won't have to come and reinstall it for them in two weeks. When you know what your money is worth, it's a lot harder to be disappointed when you get what you pay for.
Of money and miracles
To return to the realm of the realistic, it would be much more helpful if home shows were to show homeowners how to set and work within a realistic budget, rather than jump in with a "miracle" cure worth more than the value of their home. Many renovations fail because people fail to correctly anticipate costs. When the money starts running out, they start cutting corners. Homeowners need information which can give them a better idea about what their home improvement project should cost so they can form realistic expectations. Home improvement programs would also do well to help homeowners determine how to identify qualified contractors who are likely to do things right the first time.
You need the right glasses
In the meantime, HGTV and friends could do us all a favor by letting us know what these "miracle" renovations really cost, and what led good ideas to go bad in the first place. It would also be great if all contractors weren't made to suffer at the hands of homeowners who want something for nothing. In short, we've all got to stop watching home shows through rose-colored glasses, and trade them in for green ones that reflect the actual cost of quality home improvement.
|Posted on August 31, 2013 at 1:19 PM||comments (150)|
How Will A Kitchen Renovation Affect Your Home's Value?
If you want to spice things up with a stylish showpiece in your home, the kitchen is the hottest place to be. Homebuyers are willing to spend thousands of extra dollars for an updated kitchen. If you've got the budget, why not enjoy those bonuses in your own home right now?
Imposing Price Tag
Kitchen renovations are notoriously expensive. Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value Report 2013 says the cost to renovate a 200-square-foot kitchen with wood cabinets, an island, laminate countertops and a standard sink and faucet is about $54,000. That price also includes new appliances, lighting and flooring.
A gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, custom cabinets and a tile backsplash, along with built-in and commercial-grade appliances can nearly double that price tag to $107,000.
Low-Cost Alternatives to Renovating
If your budget isn't quite that generous or you're just looking to refresh the look of your kitchen, consider these ideas:
Pays Off When It's Time to Sell
When you're ready to sell your home, your updated kitchen will boost your home's value. Remodeling magazine estimates you'll recover 60–70% of the cost of your kitchen remodel.
A new kitchen will also grab potential buyers' attention. Not only are homebuyers willing to pay more for a home with new appliances, granite countertops and a kitchen island, but 51% of men and 62% of women said they would fall in love with a home that has a gourmet kitchen.
Stick to the Budget
The budget is essential to a successful kitchen remodel. Here are three budgeting tips to help keep you on track.
Consult a Real Estate Professional
An experienced real estate agent can help you determine how much to spend on your kitchen renovation without overdoing it. And, when it's time to sell your home, your agent will also make the most of your home's standout feature to attract buyers and get a great price.
|Posted on June 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM||comments (191)|
Hiring A Contractor
|Posted on June 25, 2013 at 10:38 AM||comments (259)|
BBB Warns Spring Time Brings Home Improvement Scams
With warm weather approaching, the Better Business Bureaus in the U.S. and Canada are warning homeowners to be on the lookout for home improvement scams. This is the time of year when less-than-reputable or unqualified contractors breeze into town promising a variety of services at cut-rate prices. They may show up at your door, advertise in local papers or deliver fliers to your home.
Complaints to the BBB concern a wide range of problems, including high-pressure sales tactics, confusion over contract terms, poor workmanship, incomplete job performance, over-charging and in some cases, home foreclosures.
“It’s not your lucky day when a contractor shows up on your doorstep offering a too-good-to-be-true deal on a project. The salesperson may claim he has materials left over from a recent job at your neighbor’s house or the ‘house down the street.’ This is a common ploy of fly-by-night contractors who are based out-of-state and use their pick-up trucks as their place of business,” said Steve Cole, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Complaints against home improvement/home repair contractors are among the most common consumer complaints received by the Better Business Bureau. And there is little wonder, considering how lucrative the business is. Americans spent over $200 billion in 2005 on home remodeling/repair projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
“There are thousands of reputable contractors who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget. Consumers can avoid costly mistakes and scams by doing some research before opening their wallets,” said Cole.
Comparing cost before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project is very important. In doing so, you should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors based on the same building specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project.
The BBB advises homeowners to never let a contractor pressure them into making a snap decision. A reputable professional will recognize that you need time to consider many factors when deciding which contractor to hire.
When looking for a reliable contractor, consumers should employ a contractor with an established business in their area. Ask for references and check them out. Look into the contractor’s standard of work and his professional affiliations; verify his insurance; and check to see if he needs to be licensed. Check with the BBB for a report on the contractor.
Do not permit work to start without a signed written contract that includes all verbal promises that were made by the contractor. Be sure that the written contract includes a start and completion date, a breakdown of the cost and information about the contractor, including license number, street address and phone number.
If you need financing for your project, it may not be wise to agree to financing through your contractor or someone he suggests. “Consumers complain that they were pressured to sign a lot of papers and only later found out they had agreed to a home equity loan with a very high rate, points and fees. Carefully read every document before you give your consent. You can usually get a better deal on financing by shopping around on your own and comparing loan terms from several lenders,” Cole added.
If you are asked to pay for the entire job up-front, this should raise a red flag. Arrange for payments to be made as parts of the job are completed. Final payment should not be due until the job is done. And, homeowners should pay by check or credit card, never cash.
|Posted on June 25, 2013 at 10:13 AM||comments (257)|
BBB Tips: Home Improvement
Planning Your Project
Before selecting a remodeling contractor, you should carefully plan your project from start to finish. For example, if your project involves a room addition, determine exactly what your needs are, how the room is to be used, and what you want the completed job to look like. It is a good idea to coordinate your color schemes and draw a simple floor plan using miniature tables and chairs to lay out the room arrangement.
Be specific in explaining to the contractor what you want, and be sure to approve any architectural plans that are involved in the remodeling job before the contractor begins the work.
Hiring a Contractor
It is extremely important to compare costs before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project. You should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors—bids based upon the same building specifications, materials, labor, and time needed to complete the project.
Discuss bids in detail with each contractor, making certain you understand the reasons for any variations in the prices. Do not automatically choose the lowest price. One contractor's bid might be higher because the materials to be used are of a better quality or because the work will be especially thorough and, therefore, require more time and labor.
Ask the remodeling contractor for local references and find out if these customers were satisfied with the contractor's work. If possible, visit and inspect their completed projects.
Find out if the contractor is a member of a professional association which has standards
or a code of ethics for remodelers.
Contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn how long a contractor has been in business and if the firm has been responsive to any complaints filed with the BBB.
Another important matter to consider before hiring a contractor deals with insurance. Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability in case of accidents. Then call to verify the contractor's insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.
Finally, check with your state, county, or city housing authority to see if the contractor must meet certain licensing and/or bonding requirements in your area. If so, make sure your contractor is properly licensed and bonded. Never pay a contractor for the entire job in advance and avoid paying in cash whenever possible.
Home Improvement is not an exact science. Expensive hidden problems can be uncovered once work has begun.
Financing Your Project
To obtain financing for your home improvement project you may want to consider a personal or bank loan, a home equity loan, a loan from your credit union or insurance company, or a loan from a savings and loan institution. While your contractor may be able to assist you in securing the needed financing, it is important that you investigate the various sources of funding and compare the amounts, interest rates, terms, and tax considerations.
If you cannot pay for a home improvement project without a loan, it is a wise idea to put a clause in your contract with the remodeler stating that the agreement is valid only if financing is obtained.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans for home improvements are available through certain banks and other lending institutions. However, FHA requires that the lender approve any contractor associated with the loan request and will not guarantee the work or the contractor. Be wary of any contractor who tells you that he/she has been approved or endorsed by the FHA.
If your home improvement project results from an accident or natural disaster that is covered by insurance, check with your insurance company to determine the extent of coverage before signing a contract to have the damages repaired.
Getting a Building Permit
Building codes are established by most cities, towns, and counties and may vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. Your contract should state that the work is performed in accordance with all applicable building codes and zoning regulations in the area where you reside.
A building permit is generally required when performing structural work or when a home’s basic living area is changed. Separate permits for electrical, heating, or plumbing work are required in some cases. Check with your local department of licensing and permits when starting a job to learn if a building or work permit is required.
If the project does, in fact, require a building permit, the contractor should apply for it in his or her name. Thus, if the contractor's work does not pass inspection, you cannot be held financially responsible for any corrections that must be made. Terms regarding the application of any permits should be outlined in the written contract.
When a government agency issues a permit for home improvement work, it will inspect the work when that work has reached a certain stage to make sure it complies with various codes and regulations. It is the responsibility of the contractor to arrange for these inspections.
Terms and Conditions: All agreements and oral promises regarding a home improvement project should be put in writing to protect both the customer and the contractor. If you intend to do some of the work yourself or hire another contractor to do it, such terms should be written into the contract as well. The written contract should also include:
A thorough description of the work to be done—specifying all materials to be used in terms of quality, quantity, weight, color, size, brand name, etc.;
In addition, make sure the written contract includes:
You should make every attempt to pay a minimal or no downpayment for supplies or services; especially if you have not done business with a contractor in the past. You should not make any payments for incomplete work. Schedule payments at weekly or monthly intervals or after completion of each phase of the project. All of these terms should be spelled out in the contract and clearly understood by both you and the contractor.
Cancellation Rights: When you sign a home improvement contract in your home and in the presence of a contractor or contractor's representative, you have three business days in which to change your mind and cancel the contract. The contractor is required to tell you about your cancellation rights and provide you with any cancellation forms. If you cancel, it is recommended that a notice of cancellation be sent to the contractor by certified mail, with a return receipt request.
Never make final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work done and know that all subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.
Lien Protection: For a large remodeling job that involves several subcontractors and a substantial financial commitment, you should protect yourself from liens against your home if the primary contractor does not pay his or her subcontractors or suppliers. You may do this by adding a release-of-lien clause to the contract or by placing your payments in an escrow account until the work is completed.
Warranty Clause: Any warranty offered on products by the contractor should be in writing and scrutinized carefully. Make certain you understand all the terms and conditions, including the length of the warranty. The warranty must state whether it is a FULL warranty that gives the consumer certain automatic rights or a LIMITED warranty that restricts certain consumer rights.
Quick Check List
Before selecting a remodeling contractor, you should do the following:
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 5:07 PM||comments (271)|
Downloadable Government Consumer Protection Pamphlets For Renovating
We love working with smart clients!
Here are 5 sources for common-sense practical guides for renovating.
They are listed in no particular order.
Note: please don't feel overwhelmed with all this literature because:
a) chances are you know the bulk of it anyways, and
b) there isn't a high quality renovation company around that's going to let a client have a negative experience if it's in their power to prevent it (if they hope to be around for any length of time in the future).
This video (above) is produced by CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) for the benefit of consumer protection and awareness when contracting renovation work in the home. This is a success story. Not all renovators are the same. The homeowner in this video shares tips to achieving a great renovation experience. She was very pleased with her contractor and their working relationship and the results. For more renovation info from CHMC visit: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/renoho/refash/
These downloadable files are offered by Hiring A Contractor and are a homeowner's best friend for ensuring renovations are done to the highest standards by qualified and legitimate contractors.
www.hiringacontractor.com is an industry watchdog and covers: do's and don'ts, specific tips, reference sheets, checklists, and many more crucial tools for homeowners preparing for renovations.
These guides are furnished by the City of Calgary
excerpt from City of Calgary's website:
"Hiring a contractor
Don't be a victim of contractor fraud. Contractors are required to hold a valid City of Calgary business licence and The City has the authority to suspend or revoke this licence.
While the vast majority of contractors are legitimate business people, before you hire a contractor, here's what you can do to help guard against bad business practices:
While calling 3-1-1 to confirm a contractor is licensed is a good first step, there are many other things you can do to guard against contractor fraud. Here are some suggested resources:"
Here's some advice from Renomark:
excerpt from Renomark's website:
"This website will help you better understand how to best approach your project, how to do your research and then find the right company to do the job."
CHBA (Canadian Home Builder's Association) jumps in with their two cents...
excerpt from CHBA's website:"Renovating Your Home
If you're planning to renovate your home, here's the information, ideas and practical advice you need to do it right, from Canada’s professional home renovators.
The CHBA is the national organization representing the professional renovation industry from coast to coast. The Canadian Renovators' Council of the CHBA is committed to helping homeowners make confident and informed decisions about their home renovations. This site is designed to help you get off to a great start."
This public information has been made available as a collaborative initiative by the following content providers:
City of Calgary, Department of Development and Building Permits
CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
CHBA (Canadian Home Builder's Association)
BBB (Better Business Bureau)
CPS (Calgary Police Service)
The Government Of CanadaRenomark
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 12:38 PM||comments (68)|
How To: Prepare for Renovating
Spring has sprung and maybe you’re finally ready to build that new deck, paint those golden oak cabinets in the kitchen or install that new bathroom tile. Renovations are a natural part of home ownership — here’s a few things to consider before you swing that sledgehammer or make a trip to your local home improvement store.
WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION?
Are you selling your home and looking to increase the value? Have you purchased a house with the sole purpose of renovating it to make it the home of your dreams? Is your home outdated? What are you looking to accomplish? Just a few questions to answer before you start ripping up that old carpet or tearing down those paisley drapes.
CONSIDER A HOME INSPECTION
If you’ve lived in your home for a number of years the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) suggests a complete home inspection as a way of giving you a snapshot of the condition of your home and is a good starting point before diving in with a renovation. “For effective long-term planning and budgeting, it is important to know when to expect major home maintenance expenses,” said the CHBA. “An inspection can make it easier to plan for future expenses such as furnace and roof replacement.”
NEED A PERMIT?
Do you need to get a specific permit before you start swinging that sledgehammer? Within the City of Calgary, a building permit is required for erecting a new building or structure — including retaining walls over 1.2 metres, swimming pools and hot tubs as well as demolishing, relocating, repairing, altering or making additions to existing buildings or structures. Building permits in Calgary are not required for fences, sidewalks, planters, retaining walls less than 1.2 metres, painting, minor repairs or accessory buildings not greater than 10 square metres in area — if they do not create a hazard. Electrical and plumbing permits are separate from building permits so contact the City at 311 or www.calgary.ca before beginning any electrical or plumbing projects.
WHAT’S YOUR TIMEFRAME?
Having a wedding in your backyard and looking to build a new deck? Did you pull the short straw on hosting Christmas dinner this year and want to paint the dining room days away from the big event? Timing is important when it comes to planning for your home renovation. Are you planning on taking the DIY route or hiring a contractor? In a city like Calgary, contractors are busy folks so if you’re taking the professional route it’s important to call to see how far in advance they’re booking. Or if you’re doing renovations yourself, you’ll maybe want to take some time off or be willing to live with a home in mid-renovation mode while you work at it evenings and weekends. Architect Tim Anderson offers this: “For a major home renovation, the design, permit and construction process often takes more than a year. Are you willing to invest that much time and effort?”
WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Have you been saving up to finally rid your kitchen of that peach and forest green motif ? Budget is a major part of renovation preparation and Probuilt by Michael Upshall suggests adding two to three per cent to your final budget as a contingency backup. In 2011, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation reported Canadians spent an average of $13,709 on renovations, of that amount, 81 per cent of respondants who undertook renovations in that year paid for part of the work from savings while 11 per cent chose to finance part of the cost through a line of credit or credit card. In a survey released by Scotiabank on May 21, 62 per cent of respondents said they’d finance their home project with cash savings while 29 per cent said they’d be using a line of credit.
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 12:31 PM||comments (137)|
Spring Reno Fever
It’s no surprise home renovations are on the minds of many Canadians in spring. It is after all, a time of renewal.
But this year it appears more Canadians are in the reno mood according to findings in the Scotiabank Mortgage Landscape Study. It says 44 per cent of Canadian homeowners are planning significant renovations to their homes in the next two years.
The survey found Canadian homeowners would most like to renovate their kitchen (33 per cent) followed by the bathroom (16 per cent) and the basement (16 per cent). One of those homeowners is Robert Heidmiller of Airdrie. Heidmiller recently completed a kitchen renovation in the home he shares with his fiancée Jody Paterson.
“Our old cabinets were made of MDF, they were ugly, terrible,” he said.
Since they purchased their home three years ago, Heidmiller and Paterson have been continually renovating and adding to the space. They make time during evenings and weekends while working fulltime during the day. The kitchen reno involved replacing the flooring and cabinets as well as painting, and the couple has also installed new flooring throughout the main floor, added new light fixtures, rebuilt the basement bathroom and constructed a new deck and fence.
While ambitious do-it-yourselfers like Heidmiller and Paterson are wielding hammers and paint rollers, professionals in Calgary’s renovation industry are also fully deployed helping other homeowners.
Painter Scott Appleby of Appleby Painting in Calgary said his company has been “very busy” lately.
“The easiest way to put it is we deliver a pretty high-quality product I think and I think customers demand that (high-quality) more so we’re getting more people who are interested in our services,” he said.
Appleby said six months of his year is comprised primarily of exterior projects but the most common interior requests are people having their main floor walls painted.
“The kitchen, living area, entry areas — just to spiff things up — those are the areas that get the most wear too,” he said.
For the do-it yourselfer, Appleby recommended www.paintingadvice.ca, a forum where would-be painters can get tips from the pros like the Calgary painter on everything from staining exterior decks to painting over oak.
In the Scotiabank study, 93 per cent of homeowners planning to renovate said they knew how they’d finance their project. Of those, 62 per cent cited cash savings and 29 per cent planned to draw on a line of credit.
“From painting a room to replacing your kitchen, financing a renovation should be based on your goals with budget and timeline being key to the whole process,” said David Strafford, managing director of Real Estate Secured Lending at Scotiabank. “The top three things to remember are understand what you can afford, have a budget and stick to your plan.”
Scotiabank also recommends eco-friendly renovations in order to add value to homes as well as saving homeowners money over the long term. The bank has an EcoLiving Home Energy Savings Calculator to help Canadians calculate home energy costs and see savings that can be achieved through specific energy efficient projects and practices (CREB®’s HomeSmarts is also worth a visit for energy efficient practices at www.creb.com/homesmarts).
“Renovations can add great value to your home and when you choose environmentally friendly renovation options, you can save energy, water and money,” said Kaz Flinn, vice-president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank. “Making your home energy efficient will be a benefit that will continue to pay off over the years.”
In a 2012 report released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadians spent $20.9 billion in 10 major markets across the country in 2011. The report found 95 per cent of renovations were room remodels followed by painting or wallpapering (54 per cent) and renovations involving plumbing fixtures (38 per cent). The least popular renovation project in 2011 was installing built-in appliances (12 per cent).
|Posted on June 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM||comments (618)|
Half of Canadian Homeowners Plan to Renovate
It’s the season of home renovations and according to the Scotiabank Mortgage Landscape Study, 46 per cent of Alberta homeowners are planning significant renovations to their home in the next two years.
Albertans are the second most likely of all Canadian homeowners to have a major reno project planned, ranking only behind the Atlantic provinces where 47 per cent of homeowners planned to renovate.
The majority of all Canadian homeowners planning to renovate (93 per cent) said they knew how they finance their project, with the top financing sources being cash savings (62 per cent) and a line of credit (29 per cent).
The top rooms Canadian homeowners say they would most like to renovate were kitchens (33 per cent), followed by bathrooms (16 per cent) and basements (16 per cent).
“From painting a room to replacing your kitchen, financing a renovation should be based on your goals with budget and timeline being key to the whole process,” said David Stafford, managing director of Real Estate Secured Lending at Scotiabank. “The top three things to remember are understand what you can afford, have a budget and stick to your plan.”