3 Tips for Saving Money on Home Improvements
Home improvements are rarely cheap, but if you strategize, you could save some money. Whether you’re going to do it yourself or let the professionals handle the job, here are three ways to get the most bang for your renovation buck.
1. Shop smart. Whether you need new appliances, flooring or doors, it pays to shop around. Big-box stores often hold sales over holiday weekends and at the end of the year. Many appliances go on sale in September and October to make room for new models, although new refrigerator models come out in May. Check second-hand stores like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which sells everything from fixtures and doors to cabinets and appliances. Some of the items have been used, but some are brand-new donated items. For vintage, mid-century modern or eclectic looks, you may find just what you want at garage and estate sales.
If you’re working with a contractor, ask if he or she gets discounts from certain retailers or suppliers and if you can use it. If not, or if you’re doing DIY home improvements, you may be able to buy the floor model for less. Many independent shops and some big-box stores are also willing to negotiate the price or offer free delivery, so it never hurts to ask.
If you have a small area to paint and aren’t particular about the color, consider buying someone else’s mistake. Most stores that mix paint have a shelf or area with mis-tinted colors that are marked way down in price. They are perfectly good products—just not the exact color the customer requested. Sometimes you can find multiple cans of the same mixture, but often there is just one. You can also shop carpet, flooring and fabric remnants if you need only a small amount.
2. Plan ahead. When you’re doing a major renovation, like a kitchen remodel, or adding something new to your home, selecting standard sizes and finishes rather than custom will help keep costs down. Before you even pick up a hammer, research standard sizes for things like cabinets and doors and see if those will fit your vision. By purchasing off the shelf rather than having things custom made or adjusted to fit your space, you will save time and money. You may even be able to install it yourself.
Before you fall in love with Carrara marble or other high-end materials, see what else is out there that may be just as beautiful but less expensive. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, going in educated will help you make informed decisions about what compromises you are willing to make.
3. Do some of it yourself. Just because the entire job is too much for you to take on doesn’t mean that you can’t do some of the tasks to cut down on labor costs. Discuss with your contractor what jobs you might be able to do, such as shopping, demolition, cleanup and even painting or installing fixtures.
That said, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you choose to do your own demolition, ask your contractor what you should and shouldn’t do and what you need to watch out for before you even get started. He or she may be able to offer advice or even provide instructions or diagrams to guide you. Make sure that you aren’t taking down any load-bearing walls or interrupting any of the major functions of the home, such as electricity, plumbing and gas. You don’t want to make any mistakes that would end up costing you more money.
Home improvements on a budget are not a fantasy. By planning ahead and putting in a bit of work yourself—either in research or in manual labor—you can stretch your renovation dollar a little further.