How to Renovate a House on a Budget

Renovating an apartment or a house is bound to put a dent in anyone’s budget, even if their income exceeds the national average. Getting the right tools, materials, and finishing touches often (unnecessarily) costs a lot of money, especially if one doesn’t know the real value of it all. Luckily, the following home renovation money-saving ideas should eliminate any concerns and stretch out the budget further. Though it seems that having a magazine-worthy home requires only the most expensive finishes and experts, getting a renovation on a budget is entirely possible if someone is ready to give it their best try.

Budget, Budget, Budget

Some people may think that a budgeting plan might not be needed when it comes to doing a home renovation. They figure that just having all the money is enough, and since most might already know the ballpark prices of all the things they need (they’ve been talking to other homeowners!), a piece of paper and a few digits here and there should suffice.

Going in blind and without a clear budget could very well be a recipe for disaster. Though the majority of the things mentioned above are true, it’s necessary to calculate it all to avoid coming out short and having to take out a loan.

One of the best home renovating money-saving ideas is to create a budgeting plan that’s as detailed as possible. It will be different from anything else the person might already be using. There aren’t any miscellaneous expenses, as each category has to have a clear purpose. And it all has to find a place in the budget, one way or the other.

The best way to go about it would be to consider the value the renovation will bring. Then, it’s time to think about all the wants and needs. Some things may be necessary, while others can be cut out. Because of that, this part of the process will be the longest. It’s fairly challenging to determine which parts will have to go and which are indispensable.

Only when there are clear categories can homeowners start mixing it up. At first glance, it will seem as if some parts are eating up the whole budget. So they will have to shop around for a bit and find replacements or entirely cut them out. At the same time, if they decide against adding something, they can use that money somewhere else.

The more one knows about the renovation and all the costs, the less likely it is that they’ll go over the budget. Therefore, each category should have a column that lists its expected price and how much the homeowner can put toward it. 

Sometimes, these will match, but they often won’t. What’s more, a few categories may cost less once homeowners implement some other popular home renovation money-saving ideas. Because of these fluctuations, it’s always best to overestimate the budget. Setting it at 10% higher than expected would let the homeowners catch any unexpected costs.

Wait It Out

Unless the house or apartment is a complete ruin, there’s no reason to renovate everything at the same time. With a considerable income and a reliable budgeting plan, going at it with everything they’ve got might be tempting to some homeowners. But as many reno shows have demonstrated, there’s no telling what kinds of problems may pop up in the meantime!

A good rule of thumb is to save up for a room or two (those that require the most work) and start from there. Once they are done (and in the meantime), the homeowner can start saving again for the remainder. 

The primary advantage here is that less money would be spent upfront, giving the homeowners plenty of time to save more. If there are any unexpected costs, they will be able to deal with them effectively because the footprint is smaller, which makes the overall expenses lower.

But what’s even better is that they’ll get to learn as they go and recognize other areas where they could save in the future. Although using a room or two as a learning experience may sound strange, it’s going to happen anyway. Homeowners might as well use it to save money down the line when redoing the other rooms.

Pay Cash If Possible

Although it seems like an excellent idea to take out a loan to fund a luxe renovation or to charge it all on a credit card, at the end of the day, all that interest is bound to pile up. Thus, one of the best home renovation money-saving ideas is to try to pay for most things in cash.

The gist of this tip is relatively simple: if one knows how much they can spend, i.e., they have physical money they can rely on, they’re less likely to overspend. Not being able to fall back onto a loan or use a credit card may limit them a bit and make them compromise on some stuff.

The only time taking out a loan would make more sense would be if the homeowner were planning on selling their abode. The rise in value could give them a solid return on investment and erase any consequences that popped up by getting a loan. In all other circumstances, it’s best to wait until there’s enough cash. 

Reuse Stuff

When doing a home reno, most people eagerly wait for the demo day so that they could finally get rid of those ugly cabinets or low-quality appliances. But wait! Among that pile of “junk,” there has to be something that can be reused.

Leaving the cabinet body in place and just switching out the doors could easily save someone a few hundred dollars. Even better, if the reno isn’t too detailed and the cabinets are in good shape, they can be simply painted over. All one would need are some finishing touches, such as new hardware, and a few coats of paint that match the rest of the kitchen.

And that is one of those home renovation money-saving ideas that applies to the whole dwelling. If someone is redoing their bedroom, there’s no reason to get rid of a beautiful headboard if it can be sanded and polished. They might as well try to upholster it — it could end up looking completely new.

But what if there’s no way to use some stuff? Well, then it’s all right to get rid of them. But even in that case, it’s best to take inventory of everything one owns and try selling or donating the items first.

Balance It Out

Now, it’s tempting to go for only the best quality materials and elements out there. Most homeowners would prefer that, as they don’t know when they’ll ever get a chance to redo their house again. However, just because some materials are cheap doesn’t mean they’re always subpar. And besides, it all comes down to balance.

Homes that need a complete makeover may require higher-end materials and add-ons. Yet those that don’t can be spruced up with some simple compromises. The cabinet doors can be replaced with brand-new ones, but it might not be necessary to invest in a statement stove. Similarly, the dining room might be in dire need of a new window. Since that’s expensive enough, the dining table and chairs could only get a fresh coat of paint.

Again, it all depends on the condition of the home itself. Sometimes, these compromises won’t be possible at all if whole floors have to be taken out and replaced. But no one can argue that finding the right balance is one of the best home renovation money-saving ideas out there. At the very least, it will make homeowners reconsider their choices and find more affordable ones.

Time Your Shopping and the Renovation Itself

Everyone has heard that materials and contractors may cost more when the season of remodeling homes peaks. That mostly happens during spring and summer, and it does mean that one may not be able to get their preferred builders.

So when should someone schedule their renovation? In the end, it depends on how much they’re willing to pay. 

Overall, a home renovation should start whenever one is ready to commit to it. However, that cannot be said for shopping as well. It’s best to time the shopping spree by hitting all the essential sales, like Black Friday. Homeowners can save thousands of dollars just by waiting to get what they want for a month or two. 

Also, remember to check out the scratch-and-dent sections of all the major stores. People often return items that are as good as new, but they may fit right into someone else’s home.

Ask for (Free) Help

One of the most cost-efficient home renovation money-saving ideas is to ask friends and family members for help.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the kids should be cleaning up after the builders or that grandma should come in on demo day with a massive sledgehammer. The point of asking for help is to use the expertise of friends or family members who are already in the home renovation business and/or know how to do major makeovers, such as lay new flooring.

There are some caveats here, however. Mixing business and pleasure can sometimes backfire, so it’s crucial to consider how much one can save by hiring friends or family first, as well as their expertise. Additionally, it is never a good thing to immediately think that the total costs will be zero. 

Offering financial compensation will show them that no one is taking them for granted. Sure, they’re likely to say “no,” offer a fair trade of services, or give great discounts. But it’s the thought that counts, and that can shave off hundreds of dollars off the total cost. 

Don’t Hire the First Person You See

Vetting all the contractors in one’s area and comparing their asking prices is another one of those home reno money-saving ideas that sound like a given but are often forgotten by some homeowners. 

Most people forget that contractors are sort of salespeople that have to convince people to hire them and give them all the money they ask for. Thus, they may sometimes try to charm their way to it and make it seem as if they can do all work within the budget.

But relying on the estimates could cost homeowners in the long run. Besides, hiring someone based on a few conversations and without thoroughly checking their previous work might be a recipe for disaster.

In general, it’s crucial to review their past experiences before starting the reno and ask all the questions beforehand. Looking up reviews, as well as asking for recommendations, can go a long way here too. Better yet, when talking to potential contractors, it’s wise to get it all in writing so that everyone’s on the same page. 

Don’t Move Anything Major

Most major home renovations come down to moving the big stuff, such as sinks, tubs, stoves, and windows. However, that could drain one’s budget quite easily, as it not only calls for the use of specific materials, but also expert labor.

Therefore, if the layout works as is, it’s better to just leave it like that whenever possible. Instead of changing everything completely, making the rooms more efficient is often much cheaper. For instance, most people decide on blowing out a wall in the kitchen to accommodate more appliances, cabinets, etc. But they could easily save thousands just by getting dividers, extra shelves, and pull-out pot trays.

Think About the Future

Though this next entry isn’t one of those home reno money-saving ideas that’ll have an immediate effect, it shouldn’t be underestimated at all. 

When remodeling their abode, most homeowners dream big. They want all the trendiest items, the best colors, and that intricate tile that looks so incredible in their neighbor’s house. But what they don’t realize is that trends fade over time. In a couple of years, they might get tired of seeing the same old pattern over and over again. Better still, switching out those trendy additions could be quite expensive and possibly require another remodel.

Therefore, when deciding on the colors and materials such as tile, it’s best to keep it simple. It’s always easier to buy a new appliance than to lay new flooring. And even though taking this approach may be deemed as rather safe, it pays off in the long run. 

Be Your Own Project Manager

Having someone on-site who will keep track of how the renovation is going is indispensable. A general contractor is there to take the burden off the homeowners and ensure their vision is fulfilled.

However, if someone has experience in managing such projects or just wants to be as hands-on as possible, they could be their own project manager. Of course, that does mean more work for them and being on call, as well as finding the right subcontractors. It’s not stress-free by any stretch of the imagination, and it could take a toll on their everyday life. But in the grand scheme of things, it will lower the overall costs drastically.

DIY Whenever Possible

Finally, one of the greatest home reno money-saving ideas is to turn the remodel into a partial DIY project.

Now, for apprehensive homeowners, that may be out of the question. After all, some people don’t even know how to use a hammer properly or paint. Thus, they will most likely want to shell out extra money to have experts do it all.

But for those few lucky ones out there, this is when they can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. By lending a hand and doing some of the work instead of the contractors, the overall costs should go down. After all, most crews require homeowners to pay them by the hour. Consequently, by cleaning up after them, preparing some surfaces, or taking on demolition, the number of hours paid will be lower.

This approach isn’t recommended for some specific duties that must be taken care of by experts, such as electrical work. It mainly goes for simpler tasks that one already knows how to do or can be learned through YouTube. If technology has taught the world anything, it’s that it’s possible to hone skills through the power of the internet. 

Renovating on a Budget

Although there are plenty of other home reno money-saving ideas out there, these are definitely among the most cost-effective ones. And really, they only require a few tweaks here and there and a bit of planning.

In the end, there’s no reason for a home renovation to exceed all financial expectations (or are those hopes?). Of course, it will be a sizable investment for most households and might require a few sacrifices along the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that it’s possible to stay within budget by somewhat adjusting the expectations and making compromises that won’t influence the result too much.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button