My Budget: To Reveal or Not to Reveal?

My Budget: To Reveal or Not to Reveal?

Should I tell my builder what my budget is? This is an understandable concern that crosses the mind of everyone considering a construction project. Since this question is also tied directly to whether you are going to engage in the Design-Bid-Build model or the Design-Build model, we will touch briefly on this issue. For an in-depth discussion on that topic, click this link.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons of revealing your budget.


  • Information is power, so revealing your budget might feel like you are giving up a lot of leverage to your builder. Rest assured, you are not. We put this in the con category because your feelings of giving up power are legitimate. But in reality, you are setting boundaries and establishing goals for your architect and builder around what you are willing to spend. Setting boundaries and establishing goals is a very powerful and positive way to engage in the process.
  • You might think you will get a better price if the builder doesn’t know how much you are willing to spend. But this is only true if your builder is not an honest and trustworthy person. Before your first meeting with any builder, you should be way past this point in your due diligence and confident that anyone remaining on your list has a well-documented history of successful jobs and a reputation for honesty and integrity.


  • You guessed it, the first pro to revealing your budget is that you set a boundary and goal for your architect and builder. This information should guide every step of the design process from day one.
  • Revealing your budget allows the builder and/or architect to help you understand if your budget is realistic for the project or not. If it is not, this is important information for you to have before you get way down the road on designing your project.
  • Revealing your budget helps the architect and builder identify materials and design elements that are in line with your needs and expectations. Just as a four door Ford has a very different price point than a four door Tesla, a 2400 square foot house with a $300,000 budget will look very different than a 2,400 square foot house with a $600,000 budget. Understanding the budget constraints allows the architect and builder to lead you toward a design that is achievable, rather than a design that will have to be stripped down, or worse, one that will just sit on a shelf unbuilt.
  • Revealing your budget will help you and the builder determine if you are a good fit for one another. Some builders focus more on high end projects and may not have a network of subs that can deliver a more budget-conscious product. Likewise, contractors that typically build lower-cost houses may not have the systems or quality control processes in place to meet the expectations of a client with a more generous budget.
  • By working with your architect and builder to develop a budget that is realistic and in line with your financial goals, you are beginning to develop your collaborative working relationship. In a construction project, which can be lengthy and laden with a lot of emotion, a healthy working relationship is critical to success. Keeping your budget to yourself sets an adversarial tone and impedes the development of trust.