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Money Saving Renovation Strategies
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6 Money Saving Renovation Strategies

6 Money Saving Renovation Strategies

Your next home improvement project promises to be a large one, allowing you to finally tackle those jobs you’ve put off for too long. Perhaps you’re putting on a new roof. Maybe you’re gutting a guest bathroom. Or, you may be looking at something much larger such as putting an extension on your home or raising the roof.

Regardless of the project at hand, you may be a bit intimidated by the cost of the work. Those costs include hiring an architect to develop blueprints, presenting your proposal to your local board of improvement with legal guidance included, hiring a contractor, paying for the job and maybe being inconvenienced for months, needing to leave your home for weeks at a time and taking up residence elsewhere. Unless you’re staying with family, count on paying rent in addition to your current mortgage.

Saving Money

Thankfully, there are ways you can save on your next home improvement project. You won’t save just hundreds of dollars or even thousands — you have the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars on a large project, but only if you are thorough in your preparation and careful as your plans unfold.

1. Establish your project — You already know what you want done and how you want your home to look when your project is finished. Clearly you don’t want to skimp, but you can easily pay too much unless your plans are very detailed from the start. This means working closely with an architect to establish your project. He’ll discuss with you many options including the foundation to be laid, the materials used, the plumbing and electricity, and everything else that you need. You may want a 20 x 30 rec room, but a 20 x 20 room may suffice, giving you a similar amount of living space without costly waste.

2. Set clear priorities — Your vision will take shape if your plans are clear and accurate. A general contractor can give you a good figure to work with, but that amount could go over your budget. This is where you establish a budget and hold the line. You may want wood floors, but tile over plywood may work just as well. And be less expensive. A full bath is ideal, but a half-bath is sufficient. Your choice of windows and designs can bust your budget. Decide what is most important for you and eliminate or modify those things that are not so.

3. Do it yourself — You may not be especially handy, but anyone can paint. Once the walls and ceiling are in place, handle that part of the job yourself. With your general contractor’s knowledge, of course. If you’re especially handy or have friends that can help, run the electrical and plumbing lines yourself. You can hire a contractor to put up the shell with you and your friends completing the job, saving you money.

4. Shop for materials — With you doing at least some of the work, you’ll want to buy your materials by carefully comparing prices. Your contractor buys in bulk from a wholesaler and you may be able to do so too. Special stuff such a window blinds, lighting and heating units go on sale from time to time. Strike the iron when it is hot — you’ll save money by making your purchases when everything is on sale.

5. Reuse and repurpose — A new room or addition does not mean that everything in it has to be new. You know those wood floors you want and could not afford? Wood floors taken from an old home ready to be demolished or from a home where new floors are being put in could do the trick. We featured a story recently from Kiersten Gurry who explained how she made good use of wide plank pine flooring in a home, costing less than $1,000 to buy and to install.

6. Do your job in sections — You may want to gut your kitchen, but that job will set you back more than $100,000. Your mind tells you that this is a job you can afford, but your heart says take it in steps. Instead of assuming the cost all at once, you could do the work over several years — just like people used to do back in the days when money was tight — come to think of it, those days are here! The first year you might replace counter tops, redo cabinet faces and update the flooring. The second year you’ll tackle the the sink and plumbing, perhaps replacing a drafty window. The third year you’ll replace the appliances and paint the walls and so on. Within four or five years you’ll have the work done — maybe not as fast as you had wished, but without the attendant financial stress.

Concluding Thoughts

Of importance as you tackle a significant job is money. Cash on hand goes far and can help you negotiate with suppliers and contractors. If you must take out a loan, interest rates are at the lowest levels we’ve seen in years. A second loan may be advisable or refinancing your home and adding in the project may be all you need to do.