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32 Ways to Save During a Home Renovation

Save money in big ways during your remodel with these tips.

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Get efficient

There are easier ways to gain some room around the house rather than tearing down walls. Consider some simple solutions that will give you more space in the kitchen and other areas.

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Shop for a contractor

Even if you’re an avid DIYer, you’ll eventually need a job done that’s just too big or complex to tackle by yourself. That’s when you hire a contractor. But how do you know you’re getting the best deal? Well, first, make sure you follow all the time-honored advice like asking friends and family to recommend a contractor, making sure you hire someone you’re comfortable with, and verifying that the contractor has been in business for a while and has liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Interview at least three contractors so you can compare the bids. When you meet with them to discuss the job, you should ask these questions to be confident that you’re getting the most for your remodeling dollar. These are the secrets contractors wish they could tell you.

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Have a budget

Knowing your budget—and sticking to it—is one of the most important parts of renovation planning. Remember to add in a contingency fund for any unexpected costs—and expect to use it—as well as incidental costs like the cost of eating out for a kitchen reno, or even taking a hotel for a night or two.

It can be easy to want a top-of-the-line renovation, but perhaps all you need are some cheap upgrades. Do your research and plan your budget before ever lifting a hammer.

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Do your research

Take the time to chat with friends, family, and neighbors about the renovation work they have done, and the challenges they have faced during the process. Having a wealth of information from homeowners who have been in your shoes can be invaluable in the planning process, and this information may alter your end plan. All contractors wish first-time home buyers knew these secrets.

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Obtain permits

Many homeowners consider obtaining a building permit as an unnecessary headache which can slow down the renovation process, but permits are a necessary part of the process in most cases, which can come back to haunt you if not obtained in the first place. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and code inspectors in most jurisdictions can make you rip out non-conforming work if not up to snuff. This can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road. It’s always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed. Don’t do these home renovations you’re likely to regret later.

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Be a smart packer

Renting a trash bin isn’t cheap, so take advantage of every square inch of it by strategically placing the debris in the container instead of tossing it in willy-nilly. Long boards should always run the length of the container. Set in large, hollow items like bathtubs or sinks open side up so you can fill them in instead of creating a void. When it comes to big renovations, make sure you finish these elements before winter. 

Use small pieces to fill in and around large ones. Think of the debris as puzzle pieces, each with its own proper spot. If your trash bin has a door, don’t park the bin so close to the house that you can’t open it. Walking in heavy items is a lot easier than lifting them over the side. Also, make sure you order the proper size. If you explain your project to the sanitation company, the staff should be able to suggest a bin size that’s right for your project.

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Consult the calendar

If you’re hoping for a brand new home for a particular event or holiday, make sure you look at your end date and work your way backward. Be sure to pencil in a few weeks to a month at the end for wiggle-room in case there are delays on the way to avoid disappointment. Also, if you can, try to avoid getting work done during the peak remodeling season, you’ll save some money. Learn how to complete a renovation without you and your partner getting a divorce.

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Add light without windows

You may not need to invest a bunch of money in new, bigger windows to bring in more light to your home. Skylights have their drawbacks because they can lead to moisture problems if not installed correctly but they can add a ton of light to a home at a lower cost.

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Watch your walls

Consider replacing a wall if the repair costs are going to exceed replacement costs. The labor of repairing a banged-up will eat up your dough so weigh your options carefully. These are the home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.

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Cabinet color

You don’t have to get rid of those ugly, old cabinets. You can always just throw a coat of paint on them to save some big bucks. Get an idea of how to paint kitchen cabinets easily.

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Have a detailed plan

This seems obvious, but having a detailed plan of your remodeling project before you get started is one of the best ways to save money. Ask your contractor lots of questions during the planning stages. This will help you stay on budget and ensure your timeline is realistic. These are the questions you should always ask before you renovate your home.

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Create a makeshift kitchen

If your remodel involves the kitchen, set up a temporary kitchen before you get started on the project to save money on eating out. Move the old cabinets to the garage or basement, put plywood on top of the cabinets to act as a work surface and move the stove to a temporary space, if possible. If the weather is warm, consider grilling outside or use a camp stove.

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Set up a temporary bathroom

Remodeling your only bathroom? Set up a temporary basement bathroom. Ask your contractor to help put in a temporary shower unit in the basement that can drain into the utility tub floor drain. You can also rent a “portable restroom” like the ones used at concerts and other events. This will cost you some money, but it will be worth it. Learn which home upgrade projects are actually a huge waste of money.

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Do some demo yourself

Doing your own demo will save you some money, but be sure to only take on projects you’re comfortable doing and always follow all safety precautions. Consider doing demolition on a deck or removing kitchen cabinets and countertops.

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Living Room
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Refinish hardwood

If you have hardwood floors, consider refinishing them instead of installing all new flooring. These are the things that all smart homeowners do once a year.

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Light Bulb
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Go used

One of the best ways to save money during a remodel is to hit up resale shops. Try looking for lightly used light fixtures you can install yourself. You may also find a box of tile that may work for an entryway or kitchen backsplash! You never know what you’ll find!

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Consider scratch-and-dent

Scratch-and-dent items may work for your project and be one of the best ways to save money. A refrigerator with a small dent may work if you’re adding a basement bar. A high-end oven with a small scratch on the side won’t even show when you’re done with your kitchen remodel. These are 40 home repairs that anyone can do.

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Build your own island

Try repurposing old furniture for the island or hit up a resale shop to see if they have something that might work in your dream kitchen.

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Haul your own materials

If you have a truck, you can save money on delivery fees by picking up your materials yourself and transporting them home safely. You can also rent a truck for a day, which may pay for itself if you use it to make a few trips.

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Family in Tent
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Have a backyard camp-out

If the weather cooperates, consider having a family camp out in the backyard instead of getting a hotel.

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Ask your contractor for leftovers

Ask your contractor if he or she has any leftover materials from previous projects, such as flooring, tile or trim, because you may be able to save money on material costs. Check out these tips for finding a contractor you can trust.

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Plan your lighting carefully

Your kitchen remodel will likely include new lighting. If you’ll need all new lighting, limit your recessed light fixtures because during a remodel, they can cost more to install due to them being more labor intensive.

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Floor Swatches
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Go for look-alikes

One of the best ways to save money is to go for lookalikes when it comes to materials and fixtures. This doesn’t mean go cheap, but instead look for a less expensive hardwood that looks similar to the priciest version, or go for a faucet in the middle price range if you’re remodeling a powder room.

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Do your own painting

Whether you’re painting a room or some kitchen cabinets, one way to save money is to do the painting yourself.

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Don’t toss the toilet

If you’re remodeling a bathroom, don’t think that you have to replace the toilet. If the tank and bowl are in good shape but the water keeps running, you can replace the internal parts yourself.

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Save on cabinets

To save money on your kitchen remodel, there are some corners you can cut when it comes to your cabinets. If you’re getting new cabinets, consider installing them yourself. Spray paint your current cabinets to give them a new look. Or consider converting wood cabinet doors to glass. Here are some more simple upgrades to make that can double the value of your home.

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Don’t move plumbing

When remodeling a bathroom, try to keep your current plumbing where it is instead of relocating the shower and toilet.

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Tile your own backsplash

You don’t have to be an expert to do your own tile backsplash. In fact, you should be able to get it done in a weekend. Try adding a mosaic backsplash which should cost no more than $500 depending on your tile, but may save you hundreds in labor costs.

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Think open

One of the best ways to save money on a kitchen or bathroom remodel is to install open shelves instead of custom cabinets. Every homeowner needs to know these things ASAP.

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Save on countertops

Pricey natural stone countertops may blow your budget if you’re not careful. To save money, consider installing them yourself. If you don’t have a lot of space to cover, look for remnants at a stone countertop supply yard. Before you buy, understand the pros and cons of various countertop materials, including granite, laminate, solid wood, stainless steel, and tile.

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DIY deck finishing

If you’re rebuilding your deck or are having a new one built, ask your builder if you can take on building the new railings yourself.

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Stick to the plan

The quickest way to blow your remodeling budget is to stray from your original plan. While unexpected costs are a possibility, be diligent and stick to your original plan as much as possible.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman