Remodel Your Home Without Remodeling Your Bank Account

by David Ning · 8 comments

Remodeling your home is often just wishful thinking, but you can turn that dream into reality without going bankrupt if you make a few wise decisions. There are places where you can save money without compromising quality, and other areas where you should plan to spend more to ensure a good result. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Make Complete Plans

Before you start calling around to shop for contractors, figure out exactly what you want to accomplish. If you have any unusual elements you want to include in your design, sketch it out, preferably with measurements, and present it to the contractor when you first meet. Figure out your budget in advance, then add 10% minimum to deal with the unexpected, and set up your financing. Do as much research as you can before you meet with the contractors. The more knowledge you possess, the less likely you will get a quote with a high price.

Pick materials you want by visiting home improvement stores and specialty stores. Remember, the things that are most popular or high end will cost the most. This is an area where you can compromise and select something just as lovely for a lot less money. If anything is going in your walls, pick the best because taking apart a wall because the water pipe or valve is leaking is an expensive proposition.

Picking the Contractor

This is one of those places where cheaper isn’t better. Recommendations and referrals are your best source for finding a good contractor. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau as well. Avoid any contractor with a history of complaints.

Ask for an estimate on price for the job you planned. Show any unusual elements you want incorporated. If the job comes in at a higher price than you expected, ask where you can cut expenses. A contractor understands that you are working on a budget, just like he is. They are in the best position to tell you what elements you can sacrifice without impacting the whole project.

Who Purchases What?

Sometimes you will hear people say that they opted to purchase their own supplies when engaged in a home remodel. Under just about every circumstance, this is a poor choice because your contractor will usually have access to the best prices. If you are purchasing an unusual, high end item, it may pay to price things on your own, but always compare with your contractor to see who has found the best deal.

Contract Confidence

Make sure you hire a contract lawyer to check and recheck your contract before you sign on the dotted line. This is one area where you don’t want to skimp. While it may seem like a lot of money, it really is just a fraction of the total price and it can save you loads of money if things go wrong, and something almost always does in renovations.

Renovating your home is a messy, and an often expensive process. It takes time, creativity, and a great deal of patience. Make sure you have a good time line from your contractor, work with someone you trust, and accept that as long as work is ongoing you will have a mess in your home. In the end, even if you don’t recoup all the costs when selling the home, you will have the home you wanted for as long as you live in it.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Great advice! Most homeowners have big plans for remodeling their homes until reality sets in. A strategy that works is to make the list as soon as possible after you move in and consider the cost of each project. Once you make the list of what you would like to upgrade in your home, prioritize! You may realize that some remodeling projects will fall to the next owner. If you concentrate on making a few major improvements that are well done and professionally, plus a number of smaller cosmetic changes, you will be in a good position to enjoy your home and prepared for future resale.

  • Monika Hamilton says:

    I underestimated the scale of my previous home renovation which cost me more then the set amount I had saved for the job. In the end I was forced to take out a loan. I don’t wish that upon anyone.

  • Adam Porter says:

    Those are good pointers.

    I recently remodeled the kitchen (walls, cabinets, floors, appliances…everything.). To allow for a more ‘higher-end’ budget on the actual items we bought, my friend and I did about 90% of the work.

    Of course, not everyone has the time or the know-how to do everything themselves but thankfully for us, it worked. Everything looks 100% better and there’s a sense of pride in knowing that we did (most of) it ourselves.

  • Jamie says:

    i like the attitude of coming up with a plan yourself and having everything drilled down as much as possible then adding an additional 10%.

    you could also work with the contractor on buying all the material this way you don’t end up paying double or triple for material costs.

  • Cd Phi says:

    If you’re not looking for structural remodeling but more of something along the lines of interior decorating, you can add some color to your house by painting the rooms. We’re currently painting all the rooms in our house and that pop of color really makes the room more alluring.

  • Kimberly says:

    Good tips. Another thing to think about is having enough money to actually decorate the room or rooms after the remodeling is done. You can do that really inexpensively too, though, by being creative. For example, I cut out the pages in a beautiful flower calendar that I found and put them in standard size black frames and it came out beautifully. It looks like high-end art for a fraction of the cost. I definitely agree that one of the most important things to do in a remodel is NOT to skimp on the contractor. It ends up costing you so much more.

  • I’m 50% of my way through renovation process, which we used a builder (contractor) for. Next time around I’m just going to spend the money on adult education classes so I can do it myself. Adam Smith said “no man would pay for something he could do himself for cheaper” well I did and I’m hugely regretting it. After watching the builders for 2 weeks I’m certain I could have done it myself, it would have taken longer but nothing they did seemed that technically challenging.

  • If you do not watch it, remodeling can be really expensive. Generally, the more you can do yourself, the more you can save. Chances are even if you are not handy, you can do part of the job. However, if you are using a contractor, get a quote first and then ask how much it will reduce the price if you do A, B, or C. If you are remodeling the kitchen, maybe you can do the demo work. Or if you are putting up molding, ask if you can paint it.

    The more you do, the more money you keep in your pocket

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