Home renovation projects are incredibly exciting. It’s thrilling to finally see your dreams for your home become a reality. However, the costs quickly add up. Renovation projects are always pricier than you first expect, and you’ll soon be looking for ways to cut costs without cutting corners. Try these four simple tips first.
1. Set Your Budget First
You’ll never save on your home renovation if you don’t know where your money is going and how much it’s projected to cost. From there, you can save by making changes to your plans, materials, and labor delegation.
Creating a budget can be challenging, but it’s best if you itemize the projects and the projected cost for each. Get as specific as possible.
“When I began my project, I created a spreadsheet and simply added everything I knew we wanted to buy,” said Mandi Johnson, author of the blog A Beautiful Mess. “I added my flooring choice (calculated to include waste), lighting, faucets, paint, countertops, cabinet hardware, outlets and switch plate covers, tile, grout, appliances, and more! I had to make calls to get quotes for materials and labor, and even added tax to my budget sheets.”
Once the spreadsheet was complete, Johnson reported making changes to things like materials or prioritizing projects to stay within her budget. She also allotted about 10 percent of her budget to unexpected expenses to help her stick with it.
2. Look for Deals on Materials
As you hone your budget, reducing the cost of your materials could save you thousands. While it’s important to design according to your preferences, you don’t have to spend $100 on a can of paint when a $50 can works just as well.
You should also look for deals on both renovation materials and furnishings and décor. You can often get the exact material you want for a fraction of the cost. Just look for discount codes when shopping on your favorite online websites. Houzz promo codes, for example, can help you cut the cost of some materials and furnishings in half.
Upcycling or recycling materials is also an excellent tactic for reducing material costs. Search for lightly used fixtures and building materials at a local recycling center. Outdated items in good shape can always be affordably upcycled to match your current preferences.
3. Shop Around for Your Contractor(s)
Contractors offer varying rates depending on the job at hand. This is especially true if you live in a nice part of town—contractors will often assume that you can afford to pay them more, and they’ll increase their prices. General contractors will offer you competitive rates, but you often have to let them know you’re shopping around first.
Once you’ve chosen a general contractor, they’ll typically hire a few subcontractors, such as landscapers, roofers, plumbers, and electricians. The contractor will negotiate the rate for you, but they don’t always have your budget mindset. You can often save by selecting your subcontractors. Most general contractors will happily work with whomever you choose.
Screen contractors carefully to save time, stress, and most importantly, money. Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, warns that those who don’t screen their contractors carefully will regret it.
“It can be difficult to hire contractors and know what you’re getting,” Hicks told U.S. News. “You’re spending a lot of money, and you’re dealing with your home. If they do it wrong, there can be a whole lot of heartache.”
4. Do Some of the Labor Yourself
Labor is typically the most expensive cost associated with a home renovation project. On average, homeowners pay a contracting company $80 an hour in labor alone.
It’s wise to have a contractor, and specialty subcontractors handle major projects where you have no expertise such as cabinet building, granite countertop installation, plumbing and electrical, and knocking down walls. However, there are many simple jobs that you can do yourself to save on labor.
For example, you can do your own demolition, which can save you thousands on large projects. However, Michael Winn, an interior designer in Virginia, warns in a This Old House article that you should proceed with caution:
“If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that. But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before.”
He recommends getting a contractor’s guidance on all demo projects first. It will still offer you hefty savings, but you run less risk of making expensive mistakes.
The average homeowner can easily accomplish other minor projects like painting, removing wallpaper, decorating, etc. Watch a few YouTube videos and learn all you can about any project before proceeding, and you can save big on the associated labor costs.