In 1986, Tom Hanks starred in a movie called “The Money Pit.” It was all about a couple’s adventures in remodeling what has to be the worst house ever. Even though it was a comedy, if you’ve ever been part of a big remodel, some of the situations the co-stars find themselves in (re: the remodel, not the rest of the story, which is clearly irrelevant) are way too familiar. Too little money, problems becoming bigger than initially assumed and chaos, chaos, chaos.
But you aren’t going to jump into a money pit worthy remodeling project. Oh no. Not when there are so many awesome ways to avoid it.
Remodeling is Always More Expensive Than You Expect
If there’s any hard and fast rule of remodeling, it’s that it’s always more expensive than you think it’s going to be. Even professionals tend to build some padding in to accommodate the unknown. The older the house and wider the scope, the bigger the padding.
Although building regulations have been around since the early twentieth century, they were inconsistent across the country and poorly enforced. It wasn’t until 1997 that the International Building Code was first published, finally creating a building code that was uniform across participating countries.
That’s a little background about why so many older houses are full of surprises you get to uncover when you start to remodel them. It really helps to go into a remodel with a savings mindset if you’re going to stay under budget.
Get Ready to Save Some Money: Tips to Get You Started
Remodeling can be a huge process, but if you’ve got the intestinal fortitude for it, it can be an incredible experience to be involved with. No matter if you hire most of the work or just hire the work that requires a permit, you may be able to save more on your job by trying these tips!
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to Save More. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Take that trim out carefully, you can reuse that stuff! Although more narrow types of trim like quarter round can be pretty fragile, wider crown molding or tall base moldings are great candidates for recycling, for example. Cabinets, tiles, sinks, tubs, light fixtures and most materials, really, can be recycled in some way.
2. Paint Can Give Materials a Face Lift. Hate that wooden trim? Is the wash on your kitchen cabinets unbearable? How about that wood paneling? You don’t have to rip them out, all you need to do is sand them lightly, apply an appropriate primer and carefully paint them. Suddenly you’ve got a whole new look!
3. Replace, Don’t Relocate. When you’re remodeling rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, it’s tempting to move toilets, sinks and dishwashers — but don’t! Instead, work around their existing locations, since moving your plumbing (as well as electrical) can be very expensive and may require that you bring your house up to current code, adding even more cost to the remodel.
4. Check Out Sales, Coupons and Scratch and Dent. When it comes to appliances, especially, scratch and dent sales are one of the best places to find deep discounts. Big home improvement stores tend to get a lot of returns and typically there’s nothing else really wrong with the appliance. There may be a small scratch on the side or top, but if it’s not too obvious or it’s the sort of injury you’re likely to inflict on your appliance moving it into your house, there’s no reason to spend an extra $500 on that fridge.
Sales and coupons come around on a regular basis. Wait for them. Be patient. Collect the stuff you need for your remodel ahead of time, that way you’ll be ready and have saved a bundle on all those big ticket items!
5. Discount Material Stores Can Yield Fruit. Discount material stores often get bulk shipments of odds and ends that larger retailers couldn’t move in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes this means that they’ve got big stacks of avocado green tile, sometimes it means they have just enough high grade laminate flooring for your living room. Make sure you know how much material you need before you go into a discount material store, usually it’s a one shot situation. Once they’ve sold out of the material, it’s just gone.
6. Look for Ads Selling Used Materials. Remodelers and homeowners often put bigger ticket items up for sale when they’re being replaced, especially if they seem to have a reasonable amount of life left in them. Windows, pavers and excess materials from projects are popular things you’ll see in online and offline ads. You’ll need to make sure the used materials you buy are right for your remodel, but otherwise, this is a great way to save.
7. Use Your Material More Efficiently. It might seem sort of obvious, but the more efficiently you use your materials, the less you’ll need and the more you’ll save. This means planning all your cuts ahead of time, being mindful of each piece and where it goes (like some giant crazy jigsaw puzzle!) and aiming for zero waste. You can usually return excess building materials, especially when they come from a home improvement store.
Can I Save Money Without Doing it Myself?
If you’re a little less handy or just far too busy to contemplate doing your own home remodel, it’s smart to call in a home remodeler. These professionals can advise you in ways to save money with your remodel, based on your end goals and what you’re already working with. Just try to be as flexible as possible, that’s the easiest way to save money with a professional remodel, really.