How to Remodel a House On A Budget: 50 Surefire Tips
Remodeling your house is a huge task. Often finding out how to remodel a house on a budget comes with a huge bill, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. When you make smart choices and do some research you can shave thousands off of your remodeling budget. There is not just one way to remodel a house on a budget, there are many. While not every suggestion will work for every home, being smart and using the ones that do will keep some extra money in your wallet.
If you have an unlimited budget you can disregard these suggestions. Most of us don’t have an unlimited budget though so we need to get the most impact for every dollar. Budget remodeling requires stretching each dollar allows you to do more in your home. Every dollar you save with one of these suggestions is a dollar that can be put to upgrading or repairing something else in your home.
How to Remodel a House On A Budget: 50 Surefire Tips For Success
- Optimize Spaces: Instead of expanding your rooms and incurring the costs take a look at how it is organized. Often a space isn’t actually “too small” it is just organized badly. Try moving furniture, or removing some, to gain you the room you need without the cost of removing walls.
- Buy at recycling centers: A great idea, if you are doing some work yourself, is to get your materials at a recycling store. Houses for Humanity has a line of ReStores® that sell housing supplies gathered from homes being torn down. The downside to this idea is that if you are contracting a project out the builders may not use these supplies. Most contractors won’t incorporate used supplies, or will not agree to a warranty on work that includes them.
- Demolish on your own: Breaking stuff is fairly easy. Make sure to be careful to check for plumbing and electrical, but most people can tear things apart. Doing your own demolition can save hundreds of dollars in your budget. Don’t forget to rent a dumpster for what you are pulling out.
- Use Contractor’s Sources: You might be able to get a bit of a deal if you ask your contractor where they buy their supplies. Even if you do some of the work yourself asking your contractor to source the materials might save you some money. Depending on how your contractor works you may be able to look at receipts and see where they purchased materials from without having to ask.
- Avoid Recessed Lighting: Every recessed light you use costs you almost double what a standard ceiling mounted light costs. Stay with normal lights to be able to save some on your budget and add more lights overall. Normal lights can often light a larger area as well.
- Consult An Architect: Save yourself money by consulting with an architect during your planning stage. It is a small cost up front that can save you having to fix problems later. An architect can help you come up with a good plan that takes advantage of your home’s unique features.
- Do it Yourself: One of the main ways to save money on your remodel is to do as much of the work as you can on your own. Be realistic though, the thought that you can do something is not always the reality. It will cost more for a contractor to do repair work than it would for them to do it right the first time. If you are intent on doing it yourself, make sure you know how before you begin.
- Pick Up The Supplies: An easy way to save some money on your budget is to offer to transport materials for your contractor. If you have a truck this is a great way to shave some dollars off of the contractor’s bill. If you don’t have a truck consider the cost of a truck rental compared to what your contractor will bill for the same transportation.
- Use Imitation Materials: You may have a marble dream, but a linoleum budget. Use high budget materials only where they matter most. There are many imitation materials that are high quality but have a low impact on your budget. Luxury Vinyl Tile can mimic stone or wood at a lower cost.
- Start Over: There is sometimes just not enough money in the world to fix a home properly. Know when to stop turning your home into a money pit. Be honest with yourself, and listen to your contractor. There are cases when it would be cheaper to tear down the house and rebuild completely.
- Install light tubes: Instead of new windows consider putting in light tubes. This option fits between the rafters and joists and saves you the costs of structural changes to your home. Light tubes can brighten up a room in the same way as a new window or skylight but at about half the cost.
- Off Season Success: When the weather is good a contractor is more in demand. If you are doing a remodel that can fit into the off season you may be able to get a better price. Check the seasonal rates of contractors and be flexible enough to fit your remodel into when they need work the most.
- Avoid Shifting Foundations: Plan the remodel to work with your existing foundations. Doing foundation work is expensive and time-consuming involving heavy equipment and concrete deliveries.
- Don’t Move Plumbing: Moving your existing plumbing is an expensive proposition. Save money by leaving plumbing where it is, and adding additional plumbing near your current lines. Moving a plumbing vent stack or drain line is going to be a large expense.
- Plan With Sizes in Mind: When you make decisions consider the size of your materials to get the most use out of them. If you can use dimensions that fit into the material widths and lengths you can reduce waste and save some money. The money is saved when you are able to reduce waste from having to over purchase just to be able to finish a project.
- Buy At Auction: Check your local papers and notices for auctions. You can pick up unique items at estate auctions that you can’t find in stores. You may also be able to find auctions where building supplies are sold and save yourself money on bulk materials.
- Make Decisions Early: Waiting to make big decisions until the middle of your remodel can be catastrophic for your budget. A whole house remodel is a bunch of interconnected projects that impact each other. If you haven’t made decisions at the beginning you risk requiring a different project to be changed in response.
- Avoid “We Could Also”: Once you have a plan do your best to not keep adding more to it. There is usually a tendency to see a little extra in a budget and think you could also put something else in. Until your remodel is completely done, you don’t know when that little extra will be a life-saving amount later on.
- Use Paint: A way to save some money in your budget is to use paint instead of wallpaper or other more expensive wall coverings. With some time and effort you can create a unique look. There are stencils and guides to turning a simple paint job into a feature wall that shows style and complements your home.
- Donate for tax credits: Your used items can often get you some money when you do your taxes. When you take old cabinets, sinks, or other pieces out of your home do it carefully. You can donate these to the Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity and get some money back at tax time. Be sure to get the proper paperwork to verify your largesse.
- Stair Runners: Use a stair runner instead of carpeting the whole stairwell. This has the added benefit of letting you change your look without having to recarpet the whole stairway. A stair runner is a great place to make use of remnant carpet, which is available at a lower price.
- Repurpose Old Fixtures: Take those old light fixtures and instead of replacing them fix them up. With a wire brush, and some enamel paint an old fixture can look brand new. This effort can save you a hundred dollars per lamp fixture.
- Renew Flooring With Paint or Stain: Your flooring can be a large part of your budget. If you are working with concrete you should consider painting the floor instead of spending your budget on carpet or hardwood.
- Repaint Cabinetry: With a little bit of elbow grease and some sweat you can save money by keeping your current cabinets. If the cabinets in your home are structurally sound they can be stripped down and repainted. Doing this can save you thousands of dollars.
- Use Vinyl Flooring: Marble or hardwood is not always the best answer. Modern vinyl is a great alternative to these costly options. Luxury vinyl tiles or even high-quality sheet vinyl can give your floors a designer look for a budget price.
- Change Handles: An easy way to update cabinetry that looks alright is to replace the handles and visible hardware. This gives your cabinets an updated look without having to buy a whole new set of cabinetry which can cost you thousands.
- Paint Exposed Basement Ceilings: Instead of using your budget on basement ceilings consider just painting the entire area black. This saves the cost of installing either a drop ceiling or a full drywall ceiling.
- Stain concrete: Similar to the idea of painting your concrete floor is the option to stain and seal your concrete. Staining and sealing the concrete saves the cost of floor covering. There are many different stains and colors available, and when combined with stencils stained concrete can be an upscale look.
- Buy mis-tints and make special blends: An interesting option for buying paint is to look at leftover paint. Usually leftover paint is found at stores that sell recycled building supplies. If you are flexible in your color scheme you can mix the leftovers and come up with one color. Make sure to paint a sample on an extra board. Paint stores can use this to match the color in the future.
- Purchase Clearance Materials: Be flexible in your design choices and buy what is on clearance. You may not get the exact shade or style you had dreamed of but you will save some money in the process.
- Get the Floor Model: The floor model at the local supply store or home remodeling outlet is often available for a steep discount. You can save as much as 25% if you ask to purchase the model everyone has been looking at. This is especially true if the only remaining option is the floor model.
- Refurbished Is Good: Check out the refurbished items at your local supply store. These are usually items that have been returned to the store, the company fixes whatever was wrong and resells them at a steep discount. Sometimes as much as half off of the original price. Most still retain the warranty as well so you have minimal risk by purchasing them.
- Use The Classifieds: Another great place to look for building supplies is your local classifieds. Many homeowners will try to sell off the surplus materials from their own renovation projects. By looking into the classifieds and being flexible you may be able to get materials at a steep discount. Always look materials over before you load them up or pay for them though.
- Search For Sales: When looking for supplies, from flooring to furniture, always look to see if you can find it on sale. Taking the time to research and look for a sale pays off in the end. Often there is someplace that has what you are looking for on sale. Stores wont look for you though, so take a few hours a day and look through places for things you need. Check the circulars in your local paper, as well as the internet for sales outside the local area.
- Use Engineered Versions: While it is always best to use true hardwood flooring, or siding, there are other options. Engineered hardwood flooring or siding can be a more economical option. Engineered hardwood is composed of a core of wood fiber, with a veneer of actual hardwood for the appearance.
- Buy carpet remnants: Carpet remnants are a great option if you have small spaces that need carpeting, and if you can be flexible. Carpet remnants are the pieces that remain when a roll of carpet gets near the end. Because the selection and color are limited you can purchase remnants at a steep discount.
- Repurpose What You Have: Save some money by not tossing everything out and starting over. If you have old fixtures that can be refinished and repurposed you can spend far less than you would on brand new items. Be creative and find things that can serve a new purpose, old fireplace brick can be reused in ornamental areas.
- Get Competitive Bids: When you do decide to contract parts of your remodel out, take the time to find more than one contractor. The general guideline is to find three contractors and compare their bids. This doesn’t mean that you should grab the lowest priced contractor though. Balance value and reputation to determine who will do the best job. Cheap is not always better!
- Find Holiday Pricing: Stores often offer discounts around holidays. Be flexible and purchase materials when they go on sale. This does require you to be flexible and put some effort into looking around for what you want. You may have to change a style or color choice to take advantage of a holiday sale, but the discount you get can make it worth it.
- Use Relatives and Family Friends: One of the best resources you can tap into is your network of relatives and friends. This is very true if you have any relatives or friends that are contractors, plumbers, or electricians. While they may not be willing or able to do the work for free you can get a lower rate. For general labor family and friends can be free workers, the only cost is probably you helping them out in return.
- Take Your Time: One way to save money is to take your time and do your renovation piece by piece. By allowing your renovation to happen over a longer period of time you can take advantage of sales, holidays, seasonal pricing, and other opportunities that come about. You do have to be willing to live in a home that is piecemeal for awhile though.
- Embrace Open Shelves: An innovative way to save some money is to embrace open shelves. This saves you the cost of cabinet doors when remodeling your cabinets. You do have to accept that you will need to keep your plates and other cabinet items neat and orderly or risk having your kitchen look like a disaster.
- Look at the long term: Don’t get caught in the trap of buying the cheapest version to try to stretch your budget. Look at the replacement and lifetime cost of your options. Saving a hundred dollars, only to have the time and expense of replacing something in half the time isn’t a wise choice.
- Refurbish the Floor: Instead of tearing out your existing flooring see if it is something that you can refurbish. Hardwood can be sanded and stained, as can many forms of engineered hardwood. Carpets can be cleaned to almost new condition and last years longer.
- Paint old brick: Instead of tearing out old brick and replacing it with another material consider just painting it. Painting the brick can save you the cost and expense of both demolition and the cost of a new material. Paint gives you the flexibility to choose a color that fits in with your intended style.
- Avoid Specialty Light Fixtures: When making your design choices you can easily throw a lot of money into specialty lighting fixtures. While you never want to have bare bulbs hanging from strings, you normally don’t need a crystal chandelier either. Stick to good looking, but more budget-friendly lighting fixtures. It might seem like only saving 50 dollars or 100 dollars per fixture, but if you are buying 10 of them that is 1000 dollars saved.
- Skip The Gourmet Appliances: The amount of people who actually need a gourmet stove and oven is minuscule. Honestly, ask yourself if you are a gourmet cook. You can be a good cook, and not need a gourmet cooktop. Purchase the oven and stovetop that will compliment your cooking abilities. That doesn’t mean buy a hotplate if you only eat out, put at least a standard stove and oven in.
- Peel And Stick Flooring: Instead of costly paints, stains, or floor coverings consider peel and stick floor covering. This can be put into place over vinyl laminate flooring as well. Peel and stick flooring gives a visual upgrade to a surface, with the added benefit that it is easily replaced when styles change.
- Use Carpet Tiles: Carpet tiles can be a great option, especially for basements and places where kids play. Carpet squares are cheaper than full carpet options. Tiles have the added benefit of being easily replaced if they are stained. This makes carpet tile a great idea for kids play spaces.
- Swap Fixtures, Not Basins: Don’t replace the entire sink unless you have a sink that is some pastel color from an earlier decade. If your sink is still in good repair swap out the fixtures to get a new look. This can completely change the style of your sink, at about half of the cost.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the best way to save money is to be flexible. Being flexible allows you to take advantage of everything on this list. Sticking to one option and not being open to small changes in style or color means you will pass up on savings. To save the most be open to all of these different options and grab the savings that appear as you go through your remodel.