One of the hardest truths a homeowner faces is just how expensive remodeling is, and how important it is to save on home remodeling.
Nationally, a roof can cost $18,000, a major kitchen remodel runs at $54,000 and a bathroom remodel is $16,000, according to Remodeling Magazine.
But you can save on almost any home remodeling project by planning before paying, buying materials creatively, and getting your hands dirty.
So if you’re trudging forward with some remodels this summer, or planning for the fall when the kids are back in school, think about these five ways to save money on home remodeling.
1. Build in a 20 percent cushion
This isn’t necessarily a cost-saving tip, but a budget (and sanity) saving tip to start you in the right direction. Almost every renovation goes over budget due to some unforeseen circumstance, so it’s better to be prepared than surprised.While that 20 percent cushion may mean your finishes aren’t as fancy or you sacrifice some space, it’s worth the peace of mind that you can afford this renovation.
2. Employ more efficient, modern design
Homes that were built 50 or 100 years ago aren’t used in the same way now as they were then so the design for today’s home cooks can be bulky and inefficient. But ignore the instinct to build bigger, designer Carolyn Leonhardt told Remodelista, because big kitchens and bathrooms are often unnecessary. Instead of blowing out walls and expanding the space, focus on design that would make the space function more efficiently. You’ll feel like you gained space without the expense of actually adding on. Plus, by sticking with the original bones and not moving around the plumbing or electric outlets, you can save thousands. Moving the kitchen sink can cost up to $2,000, and moving a toilet just 3 feet can cost between $500 and $1,000.
3. There are plenty of ways to get recycled materials
This Old House has a great tip for saving money on materials: contact a ReStore. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 Restores around the country, which offer bargain prices on materials salvaged from home remodels. ReStore staff can even take a look at your materials before your demolition so you can take a charitable tax credit by donating them. Then head over to the store to find materials for your new kitchen. You can also check out building supply auctions (try here) and ask for leftover materials from your contractor. Keep in mind that not all contractors will work with rehabbed materials though, so make sure you keep open lines of communication with your builder.
4. Get specific about products
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry says the number one way to decrease costs is through product choices. Give yourself enough time to decide on your desired look and then find a way to do it for less. Choosing everything you want to include from appliances to light fixtures will also more narrowly define your budget and therefore your bid. This will allow your contractor to develop a more specific budget with less surprises and prevent expensive night-before decisions on products.
5. Help out (or get help)
There are actually contractors who offer consulting, or let you work alongside to reduce costs. They’re rare, but they’re out there, and you can also ask your contractor if they offer anything like that. You can also do your demo (as long as you’re not knocking down weight-bearing walls; think along the lines of ripping out cabinets) or provide transportation. If you can find ways to pick up and transport materials or garbage, you can save big, even if it means doing a little investing in a utility trailer or renting trucks by the hour from a big box home store.
Above all else, having a firm vision and a good general understanding of how each step will get done, then looking for any cost-saving alternatives, will lead you down the remodeling path with a few extra bucks in your pocket.