Couple working on DIY projects in their home to save on renovations

Ways to Save on Your Home Remodel

Updated January 4, 2017 . AmFam Team

Are you looking to remodel but want to avoid breaking the bank? Cut costs by getting thrifty and following these tips to save money on home renovations.

From a full-blown home makeover to just a few cosmetic adjustments, remodeling your house can be an exciting time! But it’s not always easy on your bank account. Before you go ripping up carpet and installing new cabinets, get in a money-saving mindset by following these tips on how to save money on home renovations.

Tips to Lower Your Home Improvement Costs

Sprucing up your home doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank to make it uniquely yours. With a little elbow grease and careful planning, big changes may not be as far away as you think. Take a look at these tips to improve your home on a shoestring budget:

Consider the Resale Value

The first thing you should think about when deciding on a costly home renovation is the resale value. If you’re planning to sell your home in the future, you’ll probably want to recoup some of the renovation costs. Will the addition or renovation help increase the value of your home? Choose remodeling projects that boost resale values to get the most bang for your buck.

Take Your Time Finding Help

If you’re hiring contractors, it’s not a good idea hire the first group you contact. Request written bids from at least three reputable contractors to find the lowest possible price. Carefully review the bids to compare what you’re getting with each proposal and how the contractor stands behind the work once it’s complete.

Sure, price is an important consideration, but remember that poor workmanship and low-quality materials can lead to unplanned repair or replacement expenses down the road. Also, if you’re going the contractor route, make sure that they’re licensed and insured before they sign the dotted line to work with you. It’s key that you understand the best ways to avoid contractor fraud before you start collecting bids.

Also, it’s important to verify that your contractor will apply for any work permits or locally-required documents where an inspector or other authority is required to review the job. Your contactor should also take photos throughout the project to prove compliance with local codes.

Do the Work Yourself

Labor can take a solid chunk from your renovation budget. Save some money by putting your own sweat equity into your projects. Sure, there are some things best left to a professional — electrical work, certain demolition and major plumbing, to name a few — but don’t underestimate the power of your own two hands.

Painting, sanding and insulation are all ways you can chip in and save money on home renovations. Take advantage of the many free resources available and learn how you can do some home improvements DIY style.

If you decide to get the job done yourself, work closely with your local inspector and permitting team to help ensure you’re doing the work properly. Again, document your progress with photographs and keep receipts for all materials purchased during the upgrade.

Consider Look-Alikes

Don’t let the term “knock-off” deter you from saving money. Whether retiling a bathroom or swapping your shag carpet for a stylish hardwood floor, you can find imitation materials that look just as nice for a price that’s often less than half the cost. For example, while a solid oak hardwood floor is attractive, it’s also expensive. Consider laminate oak flooring that looks similar but costs way less.

  • Projected costs of this project: Hardwood - $15.00/sq. ft. Laminate - $8.00/sq. ft.
  • Estimated savings: A 400 sq. ft. space - $2800.00

Get Thrifty

Big-time do-it-yourselfers find the best deals because they know where to look. Reap some big savings by heading to recycling centers, like Habitat for Humanity ReStores (Opens in a new tab). These stores offer salvaged materials at half-off home-center prices. Even yard sales or sites like Craigslist can be extremely fruitful if you take the time to do some digging.

Keep in mind that some contractors won’t work with salvaged items to avoid a liability risk. They might be hesitant to work with materials that they don’t know the history or quality of. Check with your contractor to see if this is a viable option.

Bid on Materials

Another inexpensive remodeling trick is to check out auctions that specialize in home building products and score amazing deals on surplus remodeling materials from brand-name wholesalers and retailers. The best part? Most auctions sell everything from kitchen sinks and cabinets to trim and molding. While you might have to travel a few hours away to find the right auction, it could be worth the savings in the long run!

Plan Around Plumbing

Do yourself a financial favor and plan your renovation around existing plumbing. If you choose to move your toilet or sink just a few feet, you could be looking at costs well over a thousand dollars. But the cost to keep it in place? Free!

  • Projected costs of this project: Plumbers cost around $150.00/hr.
  • Estimated savings: 3 hours work = $450.00

Work with What You Have

Your biggest savings could be located right in your own home. Get in the revamp mindset and give your current space a face lift instead of an entire remodel. It may be tempting to double the size of your kitchen or opt for a brand new addition, but you don’t have to go bigger to make it better, in most cases.

Install high pantry cabinets to increase your storage space, hang pots, pans and utensils on the walls and rearrange your bathroom for maximum functionality. You’d be surprised what a little bit of creativity can do. A room can be transformed with the right lighting, color, décor and storage space, so be open to affordable alternatives and reinvent what you already have.

Refurbish Your Furniture and Décor

Instead of purchasing a new set of dining room chairs or hitting up the big stores for your wall décor, head to a local antique or resale shop for wonderful character pieces at a lower cost. Just give them a bit of paint and a little TLC to look and feel brand new!

Donate Old appliances to Non-Profits That Pick Up for Free

Many people opt to have old materials picked up, but this service often comes with a price tag. Even getting one small appliance picked up on trash day could cost you more than $20. Skip the charge and call up your local Habitat for Humanity. Not only will they pick up anything that’s salvageable at no cost, but you can get a tax write-off for making a charitable donation.

  • Projected costs of this project: Variable
  • Estimated savings: $20 per appliance

DIY Hauling

On a similar note, instead of paying a store to drop off your new materials, pick them up yourself! Do you have a truck? Perfect. If not, ask to borrow from a friend or rent a truck from one of the many home improvement stores nearby. Costs start at $20.00 per hour. It’ll be worth it to at least compare the cost of delivery fees to the cost of renting a truck.

  • Projected costs of this project: $150.00 to rent a truck for the day
  • Estimated savings: $150.00

If you’re completing a big renovation like a new kitchen or finished basement, you’ll want to check in with your American Family Insurance agent to see if your remodeling project has added value to your home. They’ll make sure that your coverage limits are adequate and reflect how your home has been amended post remodeling work.

Keep in mind that some remodeling projects may require specific insurance. So be sure to check with your agent to add specialized coverage to protect you during your remodeling project. Also, don’t forget to update your home insurance inventory so you have the right coverage in the event of the unexpected.

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