These days, prices are rising on just about everything, and home-improvement initiatives are no exception. Inflation and the effects of the pandemic continue to increase material costs and hamper the availability of items such as lumber. Last summer’s Consumer Price Index noted that appliance prices have risen nearly 5% compared to the previous year; washing machines and dryers were up about 18%.
Recent studies indicate that prices will continue to rise on the home-improvement front, causing homeowners to find ways to reduce remodeling budgets; however, cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting corners. Take a look at these ideas to help you renovate without breaking the bank.
Set a budget. Like any remodeling project, creating a smart budget is key. Be sure to add another 10% to cover any surprises that might pop up along the way. Next, make a spreadsheet of costs you can update regularly to keep yourself on track.
Do it yourself. It sounds obvious but rolling up your sleeves and putting in a little sweat equity will pay off financially. There are plenty of publications and online tutorials to walk you through whatever project you’re considering, and even the most inexperienced renovator can paint a room or insulate an attic.
Do your own demo work. You’ll stash some cash if you do the demolition work versus leaving it to a contractor—but proceed with caution. Demolishing a carport or deck may be easy but be careful when taking down walls. You need to be sure you’re not damaging a loadbearing wall or putting yourself at risk for sawing into wiring or damaging plumbing.
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Ditch delivery fees. It pays to schlep around town and pick up materials yourself. Many home improvement stores offer rental trucks just for this purpose. Have a buddy with a truck or a trailer? Ask if you can borrow it and avoid delivery fees.
Watch the windows. See if you can improve the insulation around existing windows before replacing them. Are there other repairs that could be made without replacing a window? If so, you could be in for huge savings. If you ultimately need to purchase new windows, keep them the same size as the existing windows and you’ll pocket a bit of cash.
Visit recycling centers. Picking up slightly used fixtures, secondhand building materials, scratch-and-dent appliances, and other salvaged items can help cut costs. Milwaukee is home to several Habitat for Humanity Restores, and you can even find some materials at local auctions.
Reconsider expensive renovations. Kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most popular and expensive home improvements. You’ll save a lot of money by keeping the layouts the same, leaving the plumbing intact. Instead of gutting these rooms, consider simply painting or re-staining existing cabinets and vanities and adding new hardware. Retiling a kitchen backsplash or bathroom shower is actually easier and more economical than you might think.
Hire a contractor. While hiring a contractor will significantly increase costs, sometimes it’s simply the smartest thing to do. Get at least three quotes and avoid hiring during busy periods—the middle of summer and September through December. Stash some cash by keeping manhours low when you prep areas yourself (removing old carpeting, for instance).
Most important, pace yourself and focus on one project at a time. Review your wish list and assess which renovation project makes the most sense to tackle first. Can you afford one project more than the others? Will one project add value to a home you’re about to put on the market? Choose your project wisely, and you (and your bank account) will surely be happy with the results.
5 Ways to Renovate on the Cheap
- Update the front door.
- Reface kitchen cabinets.
- Swap out mirrors and fixtures in bathrooms.
- Add new trim and/or crown molding.
- Create space by reorganizing to increase efficiency.