If you took a peek at a new homeowner’s search history, you’d likely find key terms like, “Home renovations on a budget,” “How much does it cost on average to do A, B, C,” or “Cheap hacks to fix blah, blah, blah…” New homeowner or not, it’s safe to say that anyone who’s has taken a trip to their local Lowes or Home Depot as of late, has had to pick their jaw up off the floor when faced with the monumental price increases of everything from lumber to plumbing and even the snack size can of Pringles you have to have while standing in line for the self-checkout. “I can store nails or something in the can afterward,” you tell yourself. Yeah, sure...
So, is renovating on a budget even possible these days? Well, yes. After all, a budget is going to vary from person to person. Even in a general sense, there are decisions you can make to cut corners and save cash without compromising the quality or safety of your project.
If you can do it, save money by foregoing professional installation. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to install a wall outlet, fix a sink trap, tile a mudroom, or replace the crumbling drywall in the den, there are pages of YouTube videos explaining how to do just that. Also, if you visit the website of your favorite hardware or big box store and search for some of the materials needed to complete your project, you can occasionally find installation tutorials right on the product page.
You’ve elected to tackle the project yourself, but the cost of the available materials has you burying your head into a tear-soaked pillow and screaming, “Why me?” not. Just because the last million-dollar home you visited featured imported Italian marble tiles in the entryway doesn’t mean you have to or need to spend that much money. Measure the length and width of the room and multiply those numbers together. That gives you the square footage. See how much square footage each box of hardwood, vinyl, or laminate you intend to buy is supposed to cover. If a box covers 14 sq ft and you have 144 sq ft to cover, you’ll need just 10.2 boxes. So, buy 11. No, buy 12. You see, you should always buy 1 more additional box than accounted for to cover your mistakes.
Don’t Fall Prey to Brand Names
You can afford what you can afford. Minimum grade underlayment is the minimum grade, which is to say it will work just fine! It’s perfectly acceptable and will keep you under budget. The last thing you want to do is spend double what you paid for your flooring to lay it. Most vinyl and laminate plank flooring requires nothing more than a circular saw, pencil, straight edge, rubber hammer, and a small block of wood to bump and lock the pieces together. Don’t buy a fancy kit because Chip and Joanna put their faces on it. Oh, and don’t forget to check Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for deals on materials someone else is trying to unload for much less than they probably paid for it.
Defer to the Experts
You know who I’m talking about. Put that old guy or gal to work. Mine’s pushing 80 and just spent the last 3 days cutting copper pipe, loading plywood into a Lowes rental truck, and maneuvering drywall in an 8x7 bathroom. You can consult someone with a fancy schmancy certificate that allows them to charge you $50 an hour to point a flashlight or you can ask someone you know and trust if they’ll take payment in cheeseburgers or beer. Look, there are times where you should absolutely hire an expert but that comes with a cost. Ask someone older, wiser, or more experienced than you how to install a new lighting fixture before you shell out a house payment for the privilege of playing trivia games on your phone while someone else does it and you learn nothing.
If you’re a new homeowner, the thought of becoming your own maintenance person, roofer, plumber, electrician, and landscaper can be a little distressing. Just think of the memories you’ll make as your sister shows you how to wallpaper while you’re on an 8-foot ladder with its legs centimeters from the top of the stairs. Priceless.
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