How would you handle not being able to estimate cost of something?

Not too long ago I bought a house, and this week the previous owner moves out. Thus we'll have to renovate and furnish the house and here lie my woes. I don't know how much it will cost and the reasons are numerous:

  1. There are some things we absolutely know we'll have to do, but there are likely going to be additional small things that will increase costs.
  2. We'll want to hire someone to do some of the things and thus we can't really know the price beforehand.
  3. We don't know how much we'll want to furnish the house because we haven't seen it "bare" yet.

A lot of unknowns and no way for us to gain more information beforehand. Before I used YNAB I'd have just shrugged and though "eh, whatever" but now it makes me anxious. We have some money saved for all of this so I don't worry too much, but I'll be happy for any suggestions on how to tackle this, from the budgeting perspective.

Our current plan is to wait until the day we get the keys, evaluate what we want to do before we move in, put a price on it (and what can't be priced put the higher end of the estimate on it) and see if we can fit it in our savings. 

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  • Maurycy Zarzycki said:
    Our current plan is to wait until the day we get the keys, evaluate what we want to do before we move in, put a price on it (and what can't be priced put the higher end of the estimate on it) and see if we can fit it in our savings. 

     This probably the best you can do.

    Additionally, I would try to curb spending temporarily and redirect any excess toward your savings for this as much as possible. It's better to have more than you need than not enough because it gives you more options.

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  • We have some updates we are looking at for our house, and so created a Wish List category. Then listed the projects/items such as Kitchen floor, Living Room windows or Bathroom fixtures as subcategories.  Money already set aside was divided up as we saw fit.

    Then I worked with some ways to fund. In parentheses in the subcategory name, I put in an estimated price(this was to see it easily without having to open the line each time).   First I looked at when we wanted them complete and entered a monthly funding goal.   Second, for open-ended or less urgent ones I just add money when extra is available, so do not use monthly goals just target category balance.

    I sort them top to bottom by urgency. When one project is done I move any remaining funds down to next subcategory & hide the completed project category.  We adjust the funding goal when we get an actual estimate from a contractor or a price for items after more research.

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