Is your kitchen hopelessly outdated and your bathroom a blast from the past? Then it looks like you’re overdue for some home improvements. There’s only one problem: remodeling can be a huge undertaking, and an expensive one at that. The average kitchen remodel will set you back $60,000; a bathroom renovation, $17,908. Ouch! But hey, that’s just the medium prices paid by owners. Many home renovations can go under this thread if you know a few tricks to control your home renovation budget. Check out these smart ways to save on home improvement costs to achieve your dream home without spending a lot of money.
1. Do not completed remodel
Unless the room needs to be completely gutted, you can cut costs by refurbishing existing fixtures. When remodeling the kitchen, staining current cabinets, replacing old drawer pulls and knobs, and resurfacing moldings can save you thousands of dollars.
In fact, refurbishing existing cabinets can save you up to 50% over the cost of buying new cabinets, according to Angie’s List. You can also cut costs by purchasing materials yourself (e.g. granite, flooring or lighting), says Chris Dosmanrealtor at Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.
2. Choose decent, medium-quality materials
Choosing high-end options or materials can significantly increase the cost of your renovation project. One area where you will find a major price difference? Carpet.
While basic olefin and polyester carpeting costs around $1 to $2 per square foot, wool can cost up to $9 to $11 per square foot, according to Angie’s List. These costs add up whether you’re re-carpeting a large room or an entire floor.
Another big problem? Countertops: Granite costs between $60 and $100 per square foot; laminate (i.e. Formica) looks like granite for $10 to $40 per square foot.
3. Do the prep work yourself
To reduce the hours your contractors will have to spend and save money on labor, do light prep work yourself, says Dossman. By removing and disposing of the old carpet yourself, for example, you’ll save time on the installer’s bill, which can add up to big savings when you consider that many companies charge an extra $4 per meter to remove the old carpet.
4. DIY, but know your limits
Another way to reduce renovation costs is, of course, to do the work yourself. It’s a good move for small projects, like painting a bedroom, where the job is fairly simple. Plus, the materials you’ll need, including paint, brushes, sandpaper, and masking tape, only cost $100-200. (Professional painters, on the other hand, charge between $25 and $100 per hour.)
With larger projects, however, probably rolling up your sleeves is not the best decision, especially if you lack practical skills. For larger home improvement projects, you’ll probably want to hire a professional to do the work. It will cost more, but it is worth it. Let’s face it: the last thing you want to do is cheap and have to pay a second contractor to redo the job.
Here are six home improvement projects you should never do yourself.
5. Find the best (and cheapest) contractor
Last but not least, a home improvement project is only as good as the one you hire. It is crucial to find a reliable contractor who will offer you a fair price and deliver high quality work. To find that special someone, you’ll want to meet at least three contractors and get offers in person. This will give you a good idea of the price range; it will also give you an idea of whether you would be comfortable working with the person.
When vetting contractors, pay attention to small details, such as whether they show up on time for the appointment. Punctuality indicates how well-organized the person is, which can affect how much you’ll have to pay, says Matt Parkerreal estate agent in Seattle and author of “Real Estate Smart: The New Home Buying Guide”.
If a contractor has a habit of falling behind, this can affect the duration of the project and the number of labor hours you will have to pay. The adage “time is money” can be painfully true when contractors are involved, so you want someone who takes your time seriously.
Another economic security measure: insist on seeing all renovation estimates in writing and, if possible, limit the hours. Meanwhile, a checklist can ensure that the renovation isn’t officially done until you’re satisfied. Any contractor who is unwilling to provide these par-for-the-course documents may not be worth it, as it protects you both in case part of your renovation goes off the rails.