Budget is affected by the size of the project, the number of elements involved, how many people need to be involved in doing the work, the quality or brand name of the fixtures and components selected, and the intended lifespan of the improvements. Doing something as a "quick-fix" that only needs to last a year or two until something else is decided versus doing something for a ten-year period or longer definitely factors into the pricing.
Just as finding out from a custom home builder that they typically build for a certain price per square foot and that a competitor is higher or lower than this really reveals nothing about what ultimately may need to be spent to create the desired look and end result. The quality and type of the features and fixtures used will have a direct bearing on the overall project cost.
When we are told or when we hear someone tell us that something is so much a square foot to build, we immediately need to learn or ask what this includes before we can determine if this is a good number or not. Obviously, using an entry-grade or entry-level item versus a luxury or higher-end one is not going to factor into the price per square foot scenario the same.
This same thinking applies to our clients. They might be people who are interested in achieving a certain result at the lowest possible cost - something that will be safe and serviceable to use but done the most economically possible. This is most likely to occur when the improvements weren't really something that had been anticipated or contemplated, when the length of time they will be needed is relatively short, and when there is a very limited budget for this project.
They could be people who want a little higher quality but still are conscious of holding to a budget, or they might be interested in achieving a top-notch job with top-of-the-line appliances and fixtures in their design.
Before we can begin formulating a budget and determine a resulting scope of work that coincides with that amount of money, we need to learn what people are envisioning as improvements, what they have identified as potential weaknesses or areas of concern in their home layout, and what they are able to expend from their own resources without looking to outside funding sources.
Another way of arriving at a budget is to ask our clients what types of fixtures, appliances, flooring, cabinetry, door hardware, wall treatments, and other items - by description and possibly name brand - to learn how realistic they are and to help ground them in potential project expenses. There is no point moving forward with the client having unrealistic expectations about what it will take to achieve their desired results. They might not be able to get everything they want but still manage to get everything they need.