Line shifting is when you pull money from a budgeted item that hasn’t been paid out yet to cover an overage of a current item.

For example, let’s say the cabinets came in $5,000 more than was budgeted.  Instead of covering the increased cost of the cabinets to stay in balance, builders make take the $5,000 from the landscaping budget even though it hasn’t been paid out.  The risk in stealing from future items is that when it comes to pay out the landscaping, for example, there won’t be enough funds to cover the costs.  If that is done enough times, there may be a significant shortage at the end of the project to complete the home.