Wants vs. Needs During a Renovation

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Renovations are exciting, and we know that. We wouldn’t work in renovations if we didn’t love the thrill of creating an incredible new space for someone, but we also know that this excitement can make things a little hazy for a lot of our homeowners. When you get really excited about a renovation, you might find that you start struggling to decide between your wants and your needs, and this can cause problems during the renovation.

“I absolutely must have this EXACT kitchen from Instagram.”

“That exact model would cost about $200,000–let’s see if we can find a slightly more realistic option.”

“That’s… yeah, let’s do that.”

We are always upfront about the fact that we want you to have your dream renovation, and we do. Unfortunately, that might not always be realistic. Sometimes we have to compromise the dream renovation in a few ways in order to satisfy your needs and your budget. Though this can be a little disheartening, when you work closely together with your contractor, you will find that a great solution is still available. In this article, we will discuss your wants, your needs, and how we can help you to find a good balance that doesn’t completely break the bank.

What is a Need?

The truth is that the needs of a renovation can vary from one homeowner to the next. What is considered an upgrade for some homes might be considered a downgrade for others, and these are the things that we need to consider when choosing design elements that are right for your home.

“We need a refrigerator, but these models look worse than the one that we already have.”

“It sounds like finding a nicer refrigerator is essential to improve your home.”

In its simplest form, a need is an element that the renovation simply would not be complete without. These needs might be something like a sink in a kitchen—or a backsplash to protect the walls from splattering spaghetti sauce. These are things that you can’t live comfortably without. To date, no one has asked us for a bathroom remodel that doesn’t include a toilet, but these kinds of needs are something that must be completed or added in order to leave you with a whole renovation.

“If we get the marble floors, we won’t have enough leftover for a kitchen sink. Do we really need one?”

“Uhm, yes. Sinks are pretty important. Let’s see what we can do.”

People often get confused when discussing wants and needs because they think that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to them. This really isn’t true. In some cases, choosing cheaper necessities can actually lower the value of a home. Of course, sometimes we think that we need something when it is really more of a want.


A true need is an essential, and it exists at a standard that elevates the home in some way. We might feel like we need that beautiful option we saw on HGTV, but we don’t. Trust us, we understand that the desire to have it can be extreme, but in the end, it still doesn’t fit the “need” standard if it is not actually essential.

Core Features

When identifying a need, you just have to consider what you are looking to get out of a renovation. This all comes down to items that are absolute essentials, or decisions that will help you to achieve your goal.

 

We’ve already discussed some of the common needs, but the full list is a long one. Needs include cabinets, counters, appliances, showers, baths, bathroom sinks, and everything else that the room requires as a bare minimum.

“Our appliances are already pretty nice. We’ll need something better to get the boost in value that we want.”

“Let’s keep looking. There are some great upgrades available.”

With that being said, needs can change when your goals do. If you are trying to increase the value of your home, your needs will change because it means that the lower-quality essentials might not work for you. Homeowners that are starting from scratch will find it easy to improve a property, but if your home is already pretty nice, you will need components that are nicer in order to increase that overall value.

What is a Want?

When you think of your dream renovation, there is a good chance that you are focusing almost entirely on your wants rather than your needs. We all love to go on Pinterest or Instagram and favorite all of those awe-inspiring renovations, but that doesn’t mean that those elements are essential, even if we have convinced ourselves that our renovation can’t be complete without them.

“I saw this 17-head shower on HGTV, and I can’t have a new bathroom without it.”

“I’m not sure that is entirely accurate…”

A want is anything that isn’t an essential need for your renovation. This means your upgrades, your higher-end materials, your added features, and your more expensive design elements. The world of renovations is vast, and there are plenty of incredible products that homeowners love—but not all of them are essential to the renovation itself.

Appliances

Appliances are one excellent way to look at wants as opposed to needs. Obviously, every kitchen renovation requires certain appliances. It wouldn’t be a kitchen without a refrigerator or stove. These are needs, but the ones you might be looking at can very well be wants instead.

“I absolutely must have the Refrigerator 10000X. It has a 4K tv and makes dinner for you!”

“Actually, that’s really more of a want—and it would take your entire budget. Let’s discuss alternatives.”

The best way to understand the difference here is with your budget. Appliances can start at $4000 and stretch all the way out to $50,000 or more. There is a huge difference between the prices of these appliances, and there are some differences regarding features and appearance as well. The biggest consideration here is that you likely don’t want to spend $50,000 if you know that $10,000 can offer the same great experience.

 

The price difference here can alter the overall experience that you will receive as a homeowner, but when it comes down to it, these prices all cover the same basic essentials. There is nothing wrong with choosing appliances that you want, but it is important to recognize that it is a want and not a need.

Cabinets and Storage

We see a lot of confusion regarding wants and needs with cabinets and storage as well. Anyone who has ever had a kitchen knows that you can’t have a kitchen without cabinets and storage. There is an entire market built out of providing these components. We need places to keep our food, pots, and pans—but these decisions can also turn into wants very quickly.

 

There is an absolute need for choosing cabinets and storage. Your kitchen does need them—and bathrooms do too. However, the market for cabinets and storage has changed significantly. Your home needs essential storage, but that doesn’t mean that the essentials are the only kind available.

“I know that the cabinets we decided on will work, but it still seems like we really need this completely custom organizer that holds 5,000 different utensils and greets us by name.”

“How many utensils do you have?”

“About 65.”

Today’s cabinets and storage can come with a long list of exciting accessories. You can enjoy your built-in spice racks, your silverware organizers, and even custom spaces. While these can provide so much to a home, they mostly didn’t exist until fairly recently, so it is pretty easy to understand that this is a want more than a need. Of course, if you’re a professional chef running a virtual restaurant on DoorDash in the space that you are having built, this just might change into a need. Everyone is different.

What Fits the Budget?

When it comes down to it, nothing is more important when discussing wants and needs than your budget. Your budget will often limit what you can get, and that means that you will need to be able to prioritize these wants and needs in order to create a renovation that you are happy with—and that meets the budget too.

Be Realistic

You will find that anyone in our industry understands the pull of a very fancy renovation option. We are just like you when we see beautiful renovation options. If anything, we can be a little worse because looking at them is a part of our job. Despite this, we have to be realistic—and we will encourage you to do the same.

“Can I really be happy with my renovation if I don’t get exactly what I saw on the internet?”

“Of course! There are plenty of ways to make a beautiful kitchen—and this one will be all yours!”

It is very common to have the idea of a dream kitchen, and it can feel like having one would change everything for you. But, you will find that creating a dream kitchen doesn’t necessarily come down to having everything that you want. Sometimes, it is finding what you want, what you need, and a budget that doesn’t completely break the bank. Being realistic will help you to choose the right renovation and stay within your proposed budget.

Creating Balance Between Wants and Needs

Your budget is going to be your guiding compass when it comes to differentiating between wants and needs. It often comes down to clearly defining what you need, then balancing it with what you want. After we have worked out the base costs, you can see what is left to provide those fun upgrades. This will allow you to receive a beautiful renovation without forcing you to grapple with buyer’s remorse. You can still have some of your wants after the essentials are covered.

How Your Contractor Can Help

Finding that perfect balance between wants and needs is a lot easier with a little help. The fact is that no one will know the market and what is available quite like your contractor, and if you can be open and honest with them, you will find that they can get you much closer to that dream kitchen, even if your budget isn’t quite there. Sharing your budget upfront with your contractor can make everything much easier.

“Can you make us our dream kitchen for $50,000?”

“You might be surprised by what we can do. Let’s discuss your options.”

 

Share Your Limited Budget—and Your Dreams

When your contractor knows your budget, you are giving them the parameters within which they will manage your build. After they have your budget, you can sit down and discuss everything. You can get on the same page about the essentials and then get to the fun part: designing your dream space. 

 

Giving a contractor your budget, list of essentials, and list of dream items can help you to work together to create a perfect balance between wants and needs while still staying within budget—and your contractor will be able to suggest some truly wonderful alternatives that can bring you even closer.

“Okay, by creating a compromise on the refrigerator, we have made it possible to add in that gorgeous spice rack you saw on Pinterest!”

“YES!!!”

 

Work With a Contractor You Know and Trust

Homeowners tend to have a lot of distrust when it comes to sharing their total budget with contractors. There is this prevailing belief that contractors will spend as much of your money as they can, and while we understand the concern, you can easily overcome this by simply putting in the time and research to choose a contractor that you feel you know well and can trust. A good contractor wants you to have a positive experience whether that means spending the entire budget to cram in as many wants as possible—or coming in a little under budget so you feel more comfortable.

The Takeaway

Your dream kitchen exists within your mind, and contractors are committed to making it a reality. While you might not be able to copy and paste that Pinterest post into your new kitchen, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get really close to it on a smaller budget. We want you to share your dreams, and we are always happy to help you create a slightly more realistic version in the end that you can be happy with!

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