Five Home Renovation Savings Tips

Home renovations are a necessary process when you own your home.  Sooner or later you will want or need to remodel your bathroom or your kitchen or perhaps finish off that basement.  Not only will renovations provide pleasure and function to you, but they could increase the sale value of your home a bit.  Here are a few tips on saving money while doing renovations.

Plan ahead

Know what you want to do and plan it out well ahead of time.  Want to redo your kitchen?  Take time to shop around to figure out what exactly you want done.  Do you really need new cabinets or could you just replace the doors?  Do you need to replace the doors or would a fresh coat of paint suit you?

If you are remodeling your bathroom, do you need to replace the vanity or would it look great with a refresh? When I redid ours, I used that spray meant to re enamel tubs to re-finish the vanity tops.  I sanded and re-stained the wood cabinet and fashioned a matching frame for the mirror out of molding strips from Lowes that I got for about $3 each.

Take the time to learn any requisite skills, either by reading, learning online or perhaps attending some of the home improvement big box store presentations and skill shops.

Understand what parts of the job may require code inspections and what the codes mean.

Save over time to build the funds you will need for the renovations you want.  You really can wait on most things – but do act fast on those items that will cause further damage if you don’t handle them.

Look for materials in unconventional places

Check out as many non-commercial options as possible to get what you need.  Possible sources include:

  • Neighbors or real estate investors who tore out perfectly good materials and want to get rid of them
  • Garage or estate sales
  • Thrift shops
  • Make it yourself items
  • Internet sites offering goods for trade
  • Craigs list

When I re-did our bath floors, I knew I wanted tile.  My son had a tile cutter which he loaned to me. I scouted for tiles as I went to garage sales for other items and was lucky enough to find not only a big lot of beautiful travertine tiles, but also two very usable Kohler bath faucets – for which we bought one replacement part off the Kohler repair site.

I found wood frames for my national park posters and a wildlife themed shower curtain at the local thrift stores.

Trade services

If you can’t (or won’t) do all of the labor yourself, use your network to find someone with the skills you need and figure out what you can do for them to get their services free or at least at a discount.

I traded cookies for labor.  My hubby pulled the toilet, sawed off the door frames and installed the faucets in exchange for some cookies and special dinners (I got the best of that deal!!).

Years ago, when my spouse tore off the roof and re-shingled it, he traded a hunting trip to our farm for skilled services of a carpenter friend.

An internet search for ‘barter services’ will yield multiple sites for your review.

Don’t build more than you plan

As you start your project, especially if you hire an installer or contractor to do the work, avoid being up sold while in their shop.  Stick to the design you envisioned and the materials you planned.  Don’t let your project suffer from scope creep!

When we re-did our utility area, we wanted more pantry space – with some basic cabinets that coordinated with our existing ones in the kitchen.  The contractor I ordered through did his best to sell me really high end cabinets – without success.

Find the right installer

Talk to people you know to find who they may have used for their work.  Check with your barber, beautician, lawyer, accountant and most especially with any real estate agents you know.  Join a local real estate investor’s club and attend some meetings to see who these guys use.

You may not want to go with the installer at the local big box – especially as a first option.  You can probably get someone better and less expensive with a bit of effort.  You may not want to go with the big contractors with the huge yellow page ads and TV commercials.  They probably use local guys anyway and you can find those yourself with a bit of time and research.

Check out Angie’s list – which has a membership fee – to see what folks in your area are saying about various companies.

Don’t forget to check out the company on the Better Business Bureau site to make sure there were no complaints.

Get and check references, read all contracts and make sure you don’t pay everything up front.

My $700 bath remodel

Here is a link to my guest post at the Saved Quarter describing my latest renovation project – DIY Travertine Tile Floor.  The entire project was done for a bit over $700 and included:

  • Removal of old rotted wallboard around the shower
  • Removal and disposal of 23 year old glass shower door and frame
  • Installation of new green board
  • Installation of new tub surround
  • Removal of old carpet and pad
  • Installation of new travertine tile floor in the bath and in each of the Jack and Jill vanity areas
  • Re-enamel of both Jack and Jill vanity sinks
  • Installation of like new (but used) Kohler vanity faucets
  • Staining and sealing of vanity bases
  • Removal of tile backsplash on both vanities
  • Installation of travertine tile back splashes on both vanities
  • Frame outs of both vanity mirrors
  • National park framed posters and wildlife themed shower curtain.

What have you done to get your home remodel projects done within budget?

This post was written by Marie.


Five Home Renovation Savings Tips — 26 Comments

  1. Seven hundred bucks is a great deal for all that work. I think one thing you can do to save money in cases like that is try to do your own demolition. It’s fun to destroy things. You just have to be careful to not destroy anything you plan on keeping and also keep an eye out for electrical and plumbing (in other words, be careful with that sledgehammer in the bathroom or kitchen) 🙂

  2. Having done some work recently, I think you got a steal thereby making a compelling case for your point. Planning is crucial and often not done or done haphazardly. I also agree that finding the right people to do the work can make or break a budget.

  3. While there are certain home DIY projects that anyone can complete, there are others in which it’s best to bring in a professional. You don’t want to end up losing money because you have to pay to fix mistakes!

  4. that sounds like a good deal for all that work – i’ve heard a lot of people talk about angie’s list and may give it a try. Right now i’m in a rental and the owner gives me a discount if I fix things that break – I consider it a trial run for when I have my own home.

  5. This may sound strange, but I know there is a lot of building where I am… and anything tossed into the dumpsters is free. It’s amazing what you can find there that is simply excess on various job sites.

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